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Julie Spira

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Every Relationship Serves a Purpose, But is Limited

Posted: 06/09/10 02:47 PM ET

These are the very words used to console me 15 years ago when I had my heart broken. Although I was crushed and devastated at the time, these words have carried me through many relationships.

Still teary-eyed, I was told to look at the incredible memories that had been shared, and there were many. I was reminded how I had grown as a person during the time of my romantic relationship. I had learned what deal-breakers I could live with, and which ones I could not. I was told to embrace the happy memories and let the door shut gracefully, so I would be able to allow a better, more compatible relationship into my life. Years later, I share this statement with others on a regular basis. It's powerful and it's healing.

I had a romantic fantasy that the one who broke my heart was my sole true love. I thought it would last forever. It lasted for many years and I learned what unconditional love was about, even it if didn't last forever. Unfortunately in order to experience this type of love, you have to become vulnerable and open your heart.

I had to ask myself, why can't we look at our romantic relationships as a full-length movie, or something that we could have forever, 'til death do us part? Why are some relationships and friendships just chapters in our lives, and not an entire book?

Within a year after my heartbreak, I got engaged and later married the man who was the next chapter of my life. I thought about my long-lost love for a moment, but I had moved on. I received an email from the guy who broke my heart wishing me the best in my new marriage. I chose to ignore it and close that chapter.

As I'm always one to lend and ear and an opinion in matters of the heart, I have consoled many friends during their heartbreaks. After all, we take our life lessons and pay them forward. I used these exact words, "Every relationship serves a purpose, but is limited" to console many girlfriends who were jolted by the demise of their relationships that prematurely ended either as a death or a divorce, which more often than not felt like death as well. It gave them comfort to hear those words.

What I didn't realize at the time, as I do now, is how this statement transfers into friendships that abruptly end. When your best friend dumps and discards you, or you have outgrown a relationship and decide to move on, it can be as hurtful as a death or divorce.

One day, a very close girlfriend of 25 years decided to discard me in an email. I was stunned. I was shattered. She had been the maid of honor at my wedding. I held her hand during her divorce. I diligently sent birthday cards to her children every year. Although we lived on separate coasts, we were best friends. It was as close to a sister as I had ever had.

Suddenly, one day in my inbox, I received an angry email, telling me she was done with me. She broke up with me from the stroke of her keyboard. It was a unilateral decision. There was no discussion. It really hurt. I tried to use my own words, "Every relationship serves a purpose, but it limited" to get over it. I realized that she had a history of dismissing people in her life, and then returning back again, as if nothing had happened. It was just my turn.

As a natural instinct and reaction, I thought about defending myself. I remembered all of the ways that I was a devoted friend through the years. I created the list, but never pushed the send button. I didn't see it coming. I cried for days, and grabbed hold of my very own saying, 'Every Relationship Serves a Purpose but is limited" once again. I realized that no one has to sign up for a lifetime contract in friendship. You do your best. You live your life through honesty and integrity. Sometimes you just grow apart. You cannot be responsible for someone else's feelings or behavior. The only person you can be responsible for is yourself.

Yes, there were 20 years of memories, vacations, hand holding, job-hunting, soul searching that we experienced together. I thought it would last forever. It didn't, but we had a good run.

I look back on the guy who broke my heart and the former best friend who discarded me in an email, and I know I contributed to their lives as they did to mine. Of course I wouldn't dump a friend in an email, but people do. I frequently tell people to sleep on it when they are about to send an angry email or break up via text message or email. When in doubt send it to yourself before pressing the send button that could hurt another. Sometimes you just have a bad day and outside circumstances may affect your feelings. Quite often you will feel differently in the morning. You can't take it back.

My mother always says, "Treat people the way you want to be treated." My mother is a wise woman.

Take the time to think about your past relationships and friendships that faded over time. Let the pain and hurt subside and ask yourself, did the relationship serve a purpose, even if it was limited?

 
 
 

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