“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” ~Mark 8:36
A good friend of mine inspired me to reflect on the investments vs. the withdraws in our relationships. She is in a toxic relationship in which it’s hard to walk away; she feels like she has invested several years and children and does not want to just "give up". Despite feeling alone, lost and empty, my friend is sometimes conflicted with leaving or staying; giving in or giving more. "It’s not always bad, there are good times too" says my friend.
I told my friend, I can relate, I am no stranger to feeling that way too. I was in an extremely physical and mentally abusive relationship for nearly eight years. We shared a child together and I already had two children from a previous relationship. He accepted my children and was a good provider…. which was golden to a single mom. I was determined to "get it right". Soon after I became pregnant, things changed. All the charm he used to get me, quickly disappeared. I blamed myself, I blamed it on my pregnancy. I made all these rationalizations as to why I needed to stay and make it work.
Just like my friend, I could also relate to the good times. We had some really good times, good laughs and funny moments…those were the investments. He was there when I lost my grandmother, my aunt, and several other very special loved ones- those were more investments. He was always helpful and generous to my parents…more investments. He was good to my children and always willing to support them in their sports, after school, programs etc., …. again, more investments. All of these things I saw as investments into our relationship.
Yet, we had some very dark and depressing moments, I call them withdraws. There was the physical abuse, in which he beat me so brutally, I endured subdural hemorrhaging on my brain. It left my face so disfigured for weeks that my little girl would not even come to me…withdraws. There was the infidelity I knew of and I'm positive more in which he hid…more withdraws. Then there was marriage that he lied about for the first two years into our relationship. There were more lies on top of lies…so many, I now have a hard time believing what was real and what was fake; the manipulation, the rejection, the chipping away at my self-worth and confidence… all withdraws.
"Before I knew it, there were so many withdraws… I was bankrupt in my spirit and in my soul."
I was walking around empty. It’s a feeling similar to when we gain weight. At first, the weight gain of 5 to 7 pounds doesn’t feel like much. Then, another 10 or 12 pounds and before you know it, you've have put on 40 pounds! It is gradual…just like abuse, which is a process.
As I said, we had some great times, fun and laughs (holidays, special occasions etc.). People always ask the age old question: "why does she stay?" The simple answer (for me) is: because we are always mindful of our investments, the projected gains and what we had to loose. Even during the really bad times in the relationship, I thought there was a possibility thing would shift and improve. They say love is a gamble and that is definitely true. I kept playing the odds hoping I would win and; it was a vicious cycle.
Once I got to the end of the relationship; I began to check my balance and look at my deposit/withdraw history. I have never been that great at math, however, this became so clear to me that there was no effort needed on my part…I just had to open my eyes and see the situation for what it was! I looked back on all the years that I cried, I doubted and questioned myself and nearly lost my sanity trying to figure out what I was doing wrong in the relationship. My balance was actually negative.
We must look at our relationships (romantic and otherwise) and take inventory to see if we are investing more than we are getting back. Are those relationships draining us and taking our energy or are they increasing our value? The longer you allow yourself to pour out all you have in others, the longer you will be empty…there will be nothing left for you.
"Do not put so much into a relationship with others that you forget about the commitment to honor yourself…and more importantly God. Sometimes, we get so wrapped in the dysfunctional cycle of a relationship, we forget about what is truly important and who we should be investing in; Our Father. Our investment in Him, always reaps profit in our soul and otherwise."
If our relationships are depleting our reserves and causing us to keep making deposits, yet not giving us any return on our investments…then its time to walk away and close the account!