I have this very beautiful gold necklace that I’ve worn for years and years and years. Given to me by a close friend, it’s truly one of my favorite pieces ever.
Within the last couple of years, this pretty little bauble has been continually breaking.
Over and over I take it to get repaired and within just a few short weeks or months, no matter how careful I am, that darn thing breaks out of nowhere.
Each time I’ve gotten it fixed, I felt like it was becoming more and more fragile and I found myself suddenly treating it with this very abnormal amount of delicacy.
Until recently …
It finally broke for the last time a few weeks ago, and upon contemplating taking it to get repaired once again (which I could have and chances are the same cycle would begin anew) I accepted the fact that the necklace is just plain irreparable.
I don’t mean just unfixable.
I mean irreparable — meaning that it can be probably fixed but will never be fully repaired.
Side note: I don’t know; perhaps one day some jeweler out there will have something stronger that can save it. But for the moment, my necklace can’t be salvaged.
Kind of like some relationships.
You know which ones I’m talking about, don’t you? The ones we work on over and over to no avail, the ones that get fixed with apologies and remedies and short-term solutions, but don’t really have the strength to last the long haul.
I’m referring to the ones that keep getting weaker and weaker with every break, fight, betrayal, etc. etc. etc. — until we start becoming ridiculously careful walking on eggshells just to avoid the inevitable pain of just saying goodbye.
There are times in our lives where we work so hard on certain relationships to repair them. We read books, listen to podcasts, go for help, ask for advice and guidance … because most people just don’t want to give up, even when their relationship is in the ICU.
But here’s the truth …
Just like my necklace with its broken link, some relationships and friendships cannot be repaired.
And at some point, continuing to fix something that has a weakened composition is just plain maddening.
While the necklace looks beautiful on the outside, I know it’s just a matter of time before it falls back to the ground into a pile of diamonds and gold.
What I’ve learned through the years from coaching — and personal experience — is that I’m a huge advocate of trying to fix whatever is broken to save relationships and friendships whenever possible.
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m the daughter of a Holocaust survivor and that children of survivors have this very deep and freaky sort of attachment to things we love. Quite frankly, we’d probably do nothing short of jumping off a roof in a bird suit to keep a close person from leaving our life or saying goodbye to ANYTHING, EVER.
But it happens.
I’m a huge fan of accepting personal responsibility when it’s called for and delving deep within myself to develop better skills that can sustain relationships and friendships and make them better where need be.
This is what I preach to my clients … my mantra or “so they say”.
What I’m not a supporter of, however, is the notion that accepting complete blame fixes everything.
So many advice columns and self-help books say if you did this or that right, A, B or C would be so much better.
Nope, that’s bullsh*t.
I don’t believe that is the case in every situation nor do I believe that advice is always a fit. Sometimes it’s just not your fault.
However, if you’re actually not that nice to your spouse, friends or lovers and you need to amp up your game with a willing and loving person on the other end, I think you have a chance of fixing things by being better.
But if you happen to already be a really good friend or partner, husband or wife and the other person is just really friggin flawed, weakened or whatever else people come plagued with these days, nothing you do is going to save that relationship from drowning.
No matter how good of a lifesaver you are.
Wanna know why?
Because the slightest bit of stress (or even normal activity) on a weak link will cause it to break.
The law of universal exchange requires that you must give the same amount that you receive in order to have anything thrive and if it’s not reciprocal, it just doesn’t work.
And just like the treasured necklace that couldn’t be truly worn, I put it away in my jewelry box for safekeeping.
Sometimes we need to “call it” in relationships. You know, decide when the end is really and truly the end. And as painful as it is, to accept that even if it gets repaired it will never really and truly be fixed.
I came to realize that I wasn’t really wearing my necklace too hard. I wasn’t exercising in it, showering with it or anything else for that matter.
It’s not that I was too strong for the necklace, but that it had become too weak for me.
Many of us think holding on to something gives us strength.
In the end, I beg to differ. Knowing when to let go is actually what makes us strong.
Until next week,
Born and raised in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, Karin has a BA in sociology, with a minor in psychology earning honors at Michigan State University. Along with certification in relationship coaching, Karin is an international blogger and past columnist. She is currently accepting clients and advertisers and can be reached @firstname.lastname@example.org.