The terms and conditions of this love or friendship exist in a scope that doesn't mean they know all of me or I know all of them. (Who on Earth does know ALL of you besides YOU? ... and that knowing takes a LIFETIME to grasp.) It is within my capacity to love the dark shadows within myself, so I have a knowing that I have the capacity to love into the darkest shadow of someone else. I love the humanity of being human. I love the imperfect perfectness. I love the gradient of color between darkness and light, and all of the monochrome shadows in between.
Whether or not someone can be frequently present in my life is mostly dependent on how they treat themselves - since that is what manifests their affect on others, including me. The inner work becomes the outer work, and vice versa.
If we can sit and stay with our own darkness, and find a way to accept it or maybe even deliver some love to it, then it is possible to patiently hold space for the processing others do in their dark spaces. This is Reiki. This is Shamanism. This is Yoga. This is the core of many dogmas.
This is Love. This is Me. This is We.
I wrote the above last year in response to a quote,
"The biggest lesson I've learned this year is that no one is really your friend or truly loves you until they have seen every dark shadow inside you and stayed."
When we see our friend's darkness, do we run or do we stay?
Do we have patience, or do we let go?
Do we label it as "toxic", or "no longer serving" to us?
Do we leave?
If we left, can we still love?
Sure we can. We can love from afar. How we treat them in our thoughts can be with love or not. That's how we know what still needs our attentive healing. We can choose to leave; to save our energy for those who are meeting our heart with kindness and respect.
When do we leave, though? When and How matter a lot when it comes to leaving. When and how we leave is totally relative to our past experiences. As we grow in experience, our perceptions change. When our perception changes, so do our decisions. We get beyond our limited perceptions the more we learn about alternatives to our personal thoughts. We start to co-create with life because we show up to the canvas ready to put ourselves in the frame. Where we put our energy matters. Where we choose to place our effort matters. We learn to matter. We learn we matter. We are matter and energy.
At this point in my understanding, my answer to, "When do you leave," is relatively easy to know. Rest assured, it's not an easy lesson that comes naturally to everyone early in life. It took me a quarter of my life to learn to leave a toxic dynamic once I realize I don't have the correct cure or the right amount of antidote. If you don't have enough antidote to counteract their toxic poison, this substance they are offering is NOT for you. Most people are not 100% toxic, or even toxic at all to every person or situation. Life's not usually that black or white.
Sometimes, this titration leaves you with excess antidote and you can take that person "in doses" because, like alcohol, you find a buzz from them. They probably make you laugh a lot. Their flaws let you allow yourself be a little unbalanced in a way that's comfortable and at first you feel safe in the dynamic. (Be careful of addition to them or attracting the same dynamic over and over again.) If you are able to put a little space between you and them and that toxicity is no longer unstable or volatile, then maybe you don't need to get out of Dodge.
Sometimes, changing the dynamic - the way you interact with them - is all that necessary. This will only work if you can create and maintain healthy boundaries. You take a different role in their life, and they in yours. In a perfect world, this role change would be mutually beneficial and mutually agreed. Sometimes, the outcome is relatively comfortable. Sometimes, the outcome is a big blow to the ego and it causes a lot of pain. There are tools to deal with all of that emotion. The change in dynamic is crucial!
Can you two communicate and act in ways that reduce the toxic load, maybe to the point of it being so faint it isn't even noticeable anymore?
If someone constantly leads you haphazardly into darkness, can you trust them? Only if your own light is fully charged can you operate in this space of utter shadow. Stay safe. Offer to sit in the darkness of the misunderstandings, the misery of mistrust, the vulnerability of authenticity with them, if you can safely hold that space. There is a compulsion to be the savior, to help, to turn the cheek in the name of faith; in the name of strength, to take on some of the load they are carrying. Resist those urges just for now. Only take responsibility for what is yours and leave the rest for them to hold. Is there healing to be done? Do you both want to do the work in this shadow?
There may come a point when you cannot permeate their darkness with your flashlight.
They have built themselves a prison where you cannot join them.
Sometimes, the change in dynamic is a literally leaving, or estrangement. Total detox.
When do you leave? The timing always shows itself through circumstance. It could be spur of the moment, or it could be planned and pondered. Some cycle rolls around for another turn of the not-so-merry-go-round, but the song is over. You don't hear it anymore. You are done. It is time to release them. Break the code, change the pattern, rekey the lock, and leave the haunted amusement park of this wasted relationship.
In observing my own behavior, it seems my release point comes when my motives are questioned and then assigned a label without my knowledge. Effectively, I leave when they think I am the enemy. Once they have decided that, there's not been any amount of talking that could resolve it. If someone believes we are operating from a malicious stance, they will behave as an enemy and project it onto us. If someone makes me an enemy, then I am their enemy, even if I did not choose to be an opposing army and I don't engage in the war. If we are purposefully living our truth and cultivating pure motives in our sphere of influence, having someone assign a malicious motive is a tell-tale sign it is time to go.
Do we go right away? Do we leave in the cover of darkness and flee? Yes, this can be the necessary action, especially if physical abuse is present. I'm not talking about those extremes right now. Just the first or second known example of our motives being assigned a toxic value without opportunity to assess them. Hey, sometimes we don't even realize our behavior needs to be addressed. We are all flawed humans.
Are we willing to have a conversation that says, "Hey Friend, we are on the same team here and now. Let's talk and sort this misunderstanding. I apologize if my motives were unclear. I apologize if __________ hurt you. How can I see this from your perspective?"
Maybe not say those exact words... but something close and from the heart.
If you are not sorry for hurting them, especially if it was accidental, there is more to be healed here. Where did the malice come from, etc.
If you are not willing to even have that conversation, the friendship is already over.