Monday, September 23, 2013

Deposits and Withdrawals

http://therumpus.net/2011/02/dear-sugar-the-rumpus-advice-column-64/
In all our relationships, whether they be romantical, friendly or familial, there is a sort of common sense equation we can employ to maintain equilibrium. We make deposits towards the strength and health of the relationship with consistent kindness, integrity and presence. When our feeble humanness overtakes our angelic nature, we make withdrawals from the relationship with our bad behavior. If we have taken the time and effort to make deposits into our account with the other person, the relationship will not become overdrawn when we have those moments that everyone refers to when they say, "Well, everyone has their moments..." The greater and more regular the deposits, the stronger and healthier the connection, the more of your humanness it can withstand.

One of my special witchy gifts is the ability to accurately predict the long term potential of couples I know. It's only partially due to psychicness, and mostly the result of being good at math. If both halves of the couple are making loving and respectful deposits into the account, and only making withdrawals of a reasonable size periodically, or of a larger size sparingly, the couple has a good shot at happy longevity. If not, well, they have a good shot at making each other pretty miserable until one too many checks bounce, and one or both parties call it quits. It's pretty simple: give more than you take, offer more than you ask. Sharing is caring.

Of course, it's not like we're keeping track, assigning some kind of ethical monetary value to the behaviors of our friends, family and lovers. Texting just to see how I am? How sweet! +20 relationship bucks! Forgetting to take out the trash when I've already asked you so many times? RAWR! -30 relationships bucks! It's not about "being even," or being sweet now to buy yourself some asshole time later. We do the right thing simply because it's the right thing. Sometimes we're hungry or tired or depressed and the right thing is impossible. Luckily, because you have invested so much so consistently into the account, your loved one understands that you love them even if you're not acting like it right then.

Unless you haven't been. If you experience a sudden lack of support in a relationship that was formerly supportive, it may be a good indication that you have exhausted your resources with that person. Relationships of all kinds require an exchange of energy. If you see a therapist, they listen to you talk and you pay them. If someone besides a paid professional listens to you talk all the time and you never take the time to ask how they are and listen to them, don't be surprised when they stop listening. Everyone has a limit to how much they're able or willing to give, and it's usually directly proportional to the effort you expended before. This is where we see what we've sewn.

Because human relationships are gloriously complex and messy, even the best math doesn't always apply. Sometimes the deposits you make don't end up in the account. They are immediately spent or outright rejected by a person whose account with themselves is so empty that they have nothing to offer or feel unworthy to receive. When you're momentarily unloving, they cease to believe their status as your loved one because they don't actually believe themselves to be loveable. Alternately, they will take all the love you have to fill their own void and offer you little or nothing in return. This, my dears, is what we call codependency. Someone is offering more than they get, someone is getting more than they offer, and it's not ultimately sustainable or healthy for anyone involved.

There are some withdrawals that are simply too massive and damaging. There is no preparing for or repairing later. The real sneaky killers, though, are small daily withdrawals that are not replaced with sufficient, consistent deposits. The degradation that is done to the account with days grown into years of little slights and lack of appreciation is terribly hard to make up for later, if it can be made up for at all. Both parties have to shift radically in order to bring balance back to the account, and change is challenging, especially in deeply established habits and patterns.

As it is with all shifts, the change begins within. Every relationship in our lives is built on the foundation of our relationship with ourselves. If the inner environment is unhealthy, unkind, unbalanced, it cannot be expected that the outer environment will be any different. I am loath to quote Rumi anymore, but he wrote this smart, true, applicable thing: "Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it." Once some inner love and balance has been established, it becomes much easier to feel the areas in our lives that are lacking and either let them go or work it out.

And how do we work it out?
We make our relationships a consistent exchange of respect, gratitude, time, attention, and kindness big and small.
We make far more deposits than withdrawals.
We recognize our responsibility to give ourselves the kind of love and approval that can only come from within.
We hold onto grace.
Because it is ultimately grace that we are gifted when our loved ones choose to unsee our foibles.
They know we love them because we show them all the time, and they have the grace to overlook it when we don't.
We say Thank You for this act of faith and unconditional love.
We return it when the time comes, and it will.
Because we all have our moments.

No comments:

Post a Comment