*This blog post was originally written and published for Ethereal Co in October 2018 and has been updated for today.*
There are many things that change as you grow older. Your beliefs, your body, your opinions, your job/career... But something I've always found particularly difficult is change within relationships.
We've kind of been sucked into this belief that our romantic relationships and friendships are meant to last forever. And then, when they don't, it sometimes feels like a part of your existence has been torn away. Or as though you've failed.
After having Blue, my mindset on this has changed a great deal. I've spent a lot of time wondering whether it's realistic to think our relationships are meant to last forever. Or whether "forever" should be a measure of success for our relationships. Is it simply hopeful to expect forever, or is it an expectation that will mostly leave you heartbroken?
These are the questions I often weigh out to myself.
On one end, you may be perceived as naive and on the other, pessimistic. But shouldn't we hope for forever but recognize that, if we all change over time, there's a chance we may grow out of relationships, too? I think so.
One of the exercises you might be familiar with from therapy is the relationship circles exercise. You make up the tiny dot, and the circles around you grow wider and further away. The people who fit into your closer circles are those you consider your greatest friends & loved ones. It seems like a pretty basic exercise but it taught me something of great value: The people in your life will move freely between these circles, and that is both normal and perfectly okay. When someone moves out of your closer circles, they aren't necessarily gone from your life entirely (although it's sometimes ok if that happens, too). Major life events, location, experiences... These are just a few of the circumstances that shape and impact our relationship circles.
When I found out that I was pregnant with Blue, it forced me to think critically about those I kept within my inner circles. Being an unplanned pregnancy, my friends all had opinions on what I "should do", and only a handful of friends chose not to voice their opinions. Those few friends simply said “whatever you choose is the right decision for you, and I will support you either way”. What a powerful sentence that is. I’ll admit, when those friends respected my boundaries and my right to choose, it strengthened our relationship. It validated their space in my life and reiterated their love for our friendship.
Some of the friends who ignored my boundaries and gave their opinions anyway, moved gradually into my outer circles. And some I chose to cut ties with. In either case, I didn't harbour hard feelings for any of my then-friends; I simply wanted to surround myself with those who respected my decision, my ability to choose, and those who helped me feel empowered and supported. Who doesn't want those things?
I feel we so often maintain relationships with people who don't empower us, support us or want the best for us because we are scared of losing people. Or perhaps because we are afraid to cut ties.
I've come to realize that we all deserve to have quality and mutual relationships with individuals who share and/or respect our beliefs, values and feelings.
Being open to changing circles and allowing relationships to form and fade along the way has had a profound impact on my perspective. It's also taught me to savour the now and give up a bit of control to allow my world to develop and grow naturally. And that is a beautiful thing .
And so this month, I urge you to give up a bit of control. Invest in the people and relationships that fill your soul (including the one with yourself) and become closer to your highest self.