Dealing with Endings: The Series…
I want to handle my endings well. If you’re like me - you grew up hearing a lot about managing new beginnings, promotions, and growth but not so much how to do endings. And yet, we all have to face endings. Some of us have had to end jobs, endure breakups, dissolve friendships, relocate to new places, and so much more. Endings happen for a number of reasons and even under the best of circumstances they can be so hard. As I began reflecting on some of the most notable transitions in my life - I realized how “endings” have shaped who I am just as much as the “beginnings” and yet we don’t talk about them as often.
In the “Peace is Power” community we have committed to do the hard, necessary work. And that means we will deal with endings. This will be the first installment in the “Dealing with Endings” series. This blog is my way of processing, reflecting, and growing in this area. And, I hope that you will come alongside me on this journey.
Chapter 1: The Door is Closed
I absolutely love reality TV. I watch it to escape from my own reality. My all-time favorite show has been Real Housewives of Atlanta. If you are a RHOA fan you will remember one of the most iconic lines. Andy, the show’s producer, asked Nene Leakes if there was any hope for repairing her friendship with a fellow housewife. Nene responded with the now infamous line, “The door is closed”.
Well, this past week I’ve been sitting with something my mom said. She’s not a reality tv star but her words have stuck with me just as much as Nene’s one-liner. I was telling her about a relationship that I had desired to be reconciled. She paused and said “Janeé, you know how Maya Angelou says when people show you who they are, believe them, well when people show you they don’t want to restore a relationship…believe them”.
That statement shook me to my core. Even though this relationship was troubled, I honestly had not thought of it ending. I had not allowed myself to think about the door as closed. And, if I'm totally honest, the thought of having reached the end of the road made me sad. In my professional life I’ve been a champion of Relational Cultural Theory (RCT). It’s a therapeutic approach that is centered around the value of relationships and human connection. RCT acknowledges that because we are imperfect people we will also experience disconnections (e.g., misunderstandings, disagreements, etc.) with others. However, the theory proposes that relationships are often strengthened when we work through disconnection. For example, one of my best friends and I had one of the hardest conversations we have ever had a few months ago and I truly believe it has strengthened our bond. I cannot say that we would have had that talk had it not been for a disconnection. And let’s not get started on marriage. Talk about working through disconnections?!?!(Another blog, for another day…LOL).
But the truth is there are some relationships that won’t be restored. They will end. The door will close. And, what do we do with that?
1. Grieve. If we are honest, when relationships end it can leave us with an array of emotions. We may feel sad, sometimes angry, and in many cases disappointed. Most of us don’t begin relationships, jobs, friendships, church membership, etc. thinking of the end. So even though endings are a part of life they often catch us off guard. So it's okay to feel something when endings happen. We may also feel conflicted because we hold good memories. It's okay to acknowledge that there were parts of that relationship and journey that were beautiful. However, good memories are not enough to sustain a relationship or situation that has run its course. Give yourself the permission to grieve. It will actually save you a lot of time and energy in the long run.
2. Learn. As I was talking with my mom about that situation I knew I wasn’t perfect but I felt I had done all I could to try to restore the relationship and it wasn’t reciprocated. However, there were still things I could learn about myself. So often when relationships end we find ways to point out all the flaws in another person. This doesn’t absolve the other person from accountability but when we spend all our energy blaming we miss a great opportunity for introspection. I had to ask myself some hard questions as a result of that relationship ending and some of the answers I came to about myself I didn’t like. But that’s the work. Ultimately, I want to know how I can be a better person for the relationships that remain. So don’t miss your opportunity to learn.
3. Move forward. Ironically, endings are not the end. New beginnings require endings. If we get stuck in the endings we cannot move forward. May you grieve, learn, grow, and move forward in peace. Because - peace is power
Well, we are just getting started. Stay tuned…more about endings to come.