I suppose relationships were just something I thought came natural to people. I thought there wasn’t a whole lot to it, you just relate to people how you relate to them. Then all of a sudden people started walking away from me. I was a funny guy, talented, and pretty easy to get along with so I was really confused as to why people kept walking out. Turns out people weren’t sure if they could really trust me or if they really wanted to.
As I have mentioned before, I was a pretty manipulative and selfish guy. I tended to think that relationships were for my benefit and that people existed to meet my needs. This was a learned behavior to be certain but it was one that found me on an island pretty quickly. I remember in college going into the showers and just sobbing. I had broken up with yet another girl and a lot of my friends seemed to be taking her side in the matter. I couldn’t believe they would take her side but that’s because I was totally blind to how terrible it was to hook girls like I did and then drop them, especially for another girl, as it was in this case.
I was a terrible mess. I didn’t have a clue how much help I needed. I was broken and I was breaking others. I’m reminded of the Christina Perry song “Jar of Hearts”
And who do you think you are?
Runnin' round leaving scars
Collecting your jar of hearts
And tearing love apart
If I could respond to those lyrics I would say that I thought I was in love each and every time because I thought love was a feeling. I didn’t know that love was a commitment to another person, I didn’t know that I was supposed to put them first. The scars i left were not unlike my own but I didn’t know that I was the one causing them.
It’s said that “hurt people, hurt people” and that was definitely true in my case. My parents and siblings had been hurt and they hurt me. Now I was carving a path of destruction through my own life. Somehow I had to break the cycle. Unfortunately it would be a few years before I got the help I needed.
My counselor, Stephen, had me start digging into my relational history and we began to look for patterns. We really are creatures of habit you know. As I looked back over my relationships it became so clear to me how I was using girls to meet my needs. Sadly though, they couldn’t meet those needs that God was meant to meet. So eventually I would look around and think, “Wait maybe it’s that girl! Maybe she is the one!?” and then I would go after her. The cycle continued on and on. I was a user, a player, and a selfish womanizer. I was broken.
It wasn’t long after this revelation that one of my former fiance’s was killed in a car accident. I had probably done more damage to this girl than any other. We were toxic. We fueled the brokenness in one another and caused chaos in each other’s lives. I didn’t lead her at all. Unknown to me at the time, I was using her. The worst of it though was that despite this new revelation I would never be able to say I was sorry. I would never be able to apologize. When Stephen broke the news to me I was in shock and then in total dismay.
Stephen was helpful in showing me the truth about her. He showed me that she was more able to see my genuine sorrow over how I had treated her now than ever. He showed me that Jesus, my advocate with God the Father, was also my advocate with her. He helped me see that Jesus would heal her far better than my apology would.
As I transitioned back into the real world I sought out another friend who would help me navigate relationships in my life. Kevin was a huge asset in my pursuit of Katie, my now wife. I needed to bounce things off of him. I needed someone outside of myself to help me know what a healthy relationship looked like. Kevin led me to lead Katie and love her selflessly long before our first date.
As I re-engaged my family I needed guidance in how to appropriately begin dealing with all the hurt that had been unearthed during my recovery. I have always been “the sensitive one” in our family and honestly I didn’t know how to related with my family without losing it. My good friend Wayne was there every step of the way. He helped me be compassionate and patient as I navigated talks and boundaries with my mom.
These were just a few of my advisors. I had proven that I was irresponsible with my relational equity and so I needed some guys who were wiser than me to help me make the right investments. Relational equity, like financial equity, is a precious commodity and if we aren’t wise with how we handle it we will lose it. I had been on the island for too long so I asked for some help and these guys helped me get to shore.
Are your relationships a mess? Maybe you need an advisor. It’s hard to admit that we’re bad at things but until we ask for help we’ll just keep screwing it up. Reach out to an advisor today. I hope you find the courage.