Why we stay


In a late night conversation, a friend of mine challenged my perception of how and when a relationship ends, if it does. We see ourselves as unappreciated, overworked, and overlooked. If this is the truth we live, then the question is…

Why do we stay?

He shared another insight, hard learned, that asked the question, “What are you getting out of this?”. It seems that if we are not getting something, whatever that is, out of a relationship, we would leave. So what is it that we’re getting from our circumstances that keeps us here? It has to be something, or we would have already moved on, right?

We can disguise it as many things, but the bottom line is that staying is giving us something we think we need. What would that be I wonder? Are we proud of ourselves for preserving a family unit, or feel the need for the security of having someone no matter what? Are we afraid we won’t find what we’re looking for when we leave, so it’s safer to stay? Is it easier for us to be the martyr, the saint or the victim rather than walking out the door and building a life worth waking up for?

Is it ego, guilt, or fear?

We may tell ourselves it’s better to face the devil we know. We may have developed some god complex and decided we can change them, change us, change the relationship by creating, by the force of our will, the life we think we want. We may tell ourselves that we’re taking one for the team by not disappointing our family, friends, our children, or the picture we have of ourselves. We may tell ourselves that we don’t want to be another failure.

Failure is in the dishonesty to self, the suppression of the heart of us, the lack of belief in ourselves that we can live fully.

It’s a hard thing to know, to swallow, that we’ve let ourselves stay for the children, the public perception, the fear, the ego denying that we can fail at yet another endeavor. It’s sickening to know that at any point in time…Any. Point. In. Time. We had the power to walk away and begin building on ourselves instead of the foundation of another.

We are the only ones who could’ve changed the Cinderella story. But we chose not to.

There doesn’t need to be a villain. It can simply be two very good people who chose partners not suited for their growing into their best selves. It can be something as simple as the wrong choice to lead us through years of struggle, fury, and pain. It can be that our Garanimal tags didn’t match and we did it anyway, leading us down the fruitless trail of trying to change each other to make us match.

The wrong ingredients make the most delicious dish into a poisonous brew. One that paralyzes, and dims the intellect, and raises excuses against any movement towards change. The kind of slop thousands of us feed each other every day under the guise of support and motivation.

I learned something about myself a few weeks ago when I wanted to run home to pick up a package that had been delivered. I never leave work during the day, ever. It’s such a pain to get caught back up when I get back. So I just never leave, I don’t go to lunch, I don’t run errands, I just stay for the duration without break. I repeat this drivel to my friend who just says “Do It”.

So I did…

And the most amazing thing happened as I was driving down the road, away from work, heading home. I laughed my ass off. You would have thought I’d just pulled off The Shawshank Redemption. It was ridiculous how happy it made me to do something as simple as stepping out of the shit and doing something I wanted just for the hell of it. It made me realize something important.

We spend too much time doing what we are “supposed to” do, and not enough time stepping into the joy of life.

The reasons we stay when there is no hope for change or growth, are not good enough. They are in fact deadly to our souls. Our reasons, numb us, put us to sleep, suffocate us, and kill the things that make us who we are. They are excuses to explain cowardice and a lack of belief in ourselves.

Can we see this now? Can we see the hypocrisy of our words in the choices we make for ourselves? Once you know what’s wrong, my friend says, you are no longer a victim. We become a perpetuator of our own pathetic story of what isn’t the way it should be. We are the ones holding us back, keeping us down. No one else is doing it to us.

Now, here we are again. What will it be? We can stay, and if we do it’s because we choose to stay, for whatever reason we give ourselves to make it right in our own minds. We can decide to keep playing the game. But it is a decision we make, not a thing that happens to us. So own it.

Or we can pull a Shawshank Redemption and take the first steps towards seeing clearly and choosing differently for ourselves. We can loosen one little spoonful of dirt at a time and carry it out with us in a finely tuned plan for freedom. Or if it works, we can blast our way out all at once and say fuck it. We each created our own road, our own prison, our own lives.

All of the power needed to change us, to change where we are and how we live, is within us.

So ask yourself this…why do you stay?

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