Friday, May 06, 2016

Burning the Bridge

I am a people-pleaser. Always have been. I want to make people happy and I absolutely hate to feel as if I have disappointed someone. While this is not really a bad thing, at times it has left me exhausted and frustrated. There is no pleasing everyone. Someone is going to be disappointed no matter how hard you try to avoid it. Yet, I still try very hard.

Unfortunately there are people in this world who feed off people-pleasers. They see them as an easy energy source. They take and use and drain and know that they will not be told no because their unassuming host is "too nice." 

My friends, there comes a time when we have to put a stop to such behavior, no matter who it is from. Being kind is a good thing, a godly thing. But being a doormat is not. We are of no use to anyone if we constantly have our energy and emotions drained by people who don't give anything in return and don't care. When you come to the realization that you are in this type of situation there is only one thing to do; burn that bridge and walk away.

It's a difficult thing to do, especially if the bridge you must burn is one you carefully built all by yourself. Perhaps you reached out to someone and over time developed a relationship with them. You gave them your time and energy and were happy to do so. However, the other person never met you half-way. You labored over your bridge only to have it met with utter disregard and ingratitude. And even worse, your hard work is seen as something they deserved, rather than the labor of love that is truly was. 

How do you put a match to something you have so diligently and lovingly put together? It's painful, heart-wrenching, but it must be done sometimes in order to move on. When the stress of holding a friendship together all on your own is too much, it becomes necessary to let it go. When a relationship brings more worry and stress than joy, it's time to carefully examine the nature of it. Are you the one doing all the caring? Are you getting buried under the weight of the other person's demands? Are your feelings being consistently disregarded?

If the answer is yes, burn the bridge and don't look back. Don't do it out of spite or revenge, but do it out of love and respect for yourself. You deserve to have your feelings considered, your thoughts appreciated, your efforts regarded with gratitude. 

As people-pleasers, we don't do anything for applause or recognition. We do it because making other people happy makes us happy. But for some people, your efforts will never be enough. They will continue to use you as long as you allow it. They will take and take and take until you are empty. 

If you do decide to burn the bridge, be prepared for a tirade on how selfish you are. You will be accused of being unfair and of "not being who you used to be." Don't take it to heart. 
If there are not accusations, there may be an apology of sorts. Tread carefully. Users know how to get to our soft hearts with tears and promises to change and be better. They say the right things and even may show a momentary display of gratitude. However, if the pattern holds true, once they're back in your good graces their original behavior will resurface and the cycle will start over.

Burn the bridge. Torch your precious handiwork and use the light of the flames to lead you to a better path. You tried. You made a beautiful thing. It led nowhere, so now it's a bonfire. 

Don't get me wrong. I'm not totally disillusioned. I think there are still a lot of wonderful, appreciative people out there. I believe in true love and friendship. I have lots of loyal, loving people in my life. Having those people makes it easier to give myself permission to walk away from those who are not loyal and loving. I will continue to give of myself and try to make the world a brighter, happier place, but I will not allow myself to be drained dry. 

I have no anger or malice toward anyone. I wish only the best to all the people I have known and loved. But I and every other people-pleaser must learn to set boundaries. Not limits on our love and devotion, but on how far we are willing to allow ourselves to be pushed. It's okay to say no. It's okay to speak up and say, "I will not allow you to treat me with disrespect." If they cannot comply, torch that bridge. Don't linger over the flames and don't let a single tear douse it. Toss a match over your shoulder and walk away. 

It's okay. You're not a bad person. Repeat that to yourself. I am not a bad person. 
But you are a person and you deserve more than toxic relationships that leave you depleted. There are good relationships out there. Keep looking. Build more bridges, but don't be afraid to burn those too if necessary. You'll know the right ones. In those, you'll be met halfway by a friendly smile and a voice that says, "Hey, nice bridge!"