Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Living Vicariously Through Other People and Choosing to Burn a Bridge or Two

I am currently living vicariously through some people. No, it's not my children (why would I want to live vicariously through them? I mean, I loved being 6-years-old and 8-years-old and all, but I can barely even remember being 16-years-old, let alone 6, so the whole "vicarious" thing wouldn't work so well, you know?).
I am living vicariously through a nice young couple.
Here's the story:
One of our "boys" (Isaac) came home from his mission in August. He goes to BYU and is still attending our ward, much to our delight. My brother's wife's cousin (Jessica) also attends BYU and is just fabulous. So, we set them up on a date. Which turned into two dates. Then three. Then spending everyday together. Then Facebook "currently-in-a-relationship" status!

They hang out with us a lot; Jessica is far from home (TN) and Isaac has always hung out with us a lot (except for that 2 year mission thing). They love our kids (free babysitting, yo!) and we love them. We have the same taste in movies, games, and football. Plus, Brandon and I are way super cool. Totally radical, man!
Anyway, we have lots of fun with them. And they are here a lot (did I already mention that?). So, I see them being cute together. I hear about their relationship progress. I giggle when she (or he) talks about the hand-holding or the first kiss. I love seeing them together, experiencing the newness of a relationship, the excitement of romance, the rush of an unknown future. It takes me back and makes me nostalgic. Sure, I'd rather be in the deep throws of commitment and complete bonding that I have with my husband, but I'm still feeling a bit...vicarious-like. I'm trying not to obsess about their relationship (obsessiveness really isn't that good. Unless you're obsessed with being a good person. I think), but sometimes it's hard!
Luckily, I'm not completely insane -yet- so I can back off a bit (insert nervous chuckle here).

Do you ever live vicariously through other people?

I used to pride myself on never burning bridges. In fact, I wrote a post about it here. It was a good post, too, if I do say so myself. But anyway, I'm here to admit that I've burned myself a few bridges this year. It wasn't intentional, but part of me thinks that maybe it was intentional. I have learned something through it all, though:
Toxic relationships should be burned.
Not necessarily blown up, but burned, for sure. The worst part is not feeling guilty when an association with a person comes to an end. This was particularly disconcerting for me because I have always prided myself on my social ability --I love friends. I love them. I want them to be happy. I like to foster relationships. But I think in the course of these last few years, I have discovered that I don't have enough time to care about everyone. I can't. The people who need me the most (including my sanity) can't compete with my incessant need to please everyone.

[Which reminds me: Brenna, do you still have Co-Dependency No More? I need to borrow it!]

So, I've let go. I have, in fact, chosen honesty over kindness a few times. I think that's the other thing --I hate hypocrisy in every form. I may be a hypocrite for even saying that (I mean, come on, we're not all perfect!), but I do. I can't stand people who pretend for the sake of show and/or pride. Drives me INSANE. But since I can't always control that, I realized I can control interaction. Plus I can shield myself from toxic relationships and/or conversations.

What a revelation!

But see, it's not just about burning bridges, either. Sometimes it's just about closing them down for repairs for a while. Or perhaps we're both on vacation. Just to be clear: I don't see a relationship that has little interaction to automatically equate burnage. For example: My bosom buddy, Emily G. and I talk about once a year. Maybe. But it's not because we don't love each other --we're just busy, busy women with lots to do. When we do get together or talk, our friendship and concern for each other is evident --without judgement, reservation, or insult. It's awesome. I actually have many relationships like this (I'm guessing you do, too!).

So, now that I've probably made this more confusing, I'll conclude with this: Burning bridges is not my recommendation --kindness really should be the rule (oh, is the rule). However, sometimes we must burn to save ourselves. Ooh! Like a fire being started to stop a fire! Yes! Like that!
Or something.

Do you burn bridges? Or try not to? Or do it all the time so the feds have to come and haul you to jail?

P.S. Go read this post and listen to the song. It's beautiful!


Annette Lyon said...

I don't think I've lived vicariously. I've envied others' lives. I'll admit that much.

As far as burning bridges, it's a rarity, but it's happened when absolutely necessary for my own mental or emotional well-being. Most of the time, as you put it, a bridge may just need to be temporarily closed for repairs.

And I'm with you--I'd prefer honesty to hypocrisy and deceit any day. In fact, those two things are enough for me to burn a bridge.


Co-dependency No More is a great book. I agree it can be hard to not feel guilty when an association comes to an end. People can change throughout time and letting go of toxic relationships is healthy.

Cardalls said...

I love the beginning stages of a relationship! My husband was in a singles ward bishopric and my favorite part of being in the ward was watching the relationships starting and living a tiny bit vicariously :)

sariqd said...

Interesting you should write this as I had just "closed for repairs" a relationship I had with an older sister that's always been a little bit... shaky. It blew up last week and she decided to take it a step further by disowning me and all the rest of the sibs who SHE thought was supportive of me and not her. It's really sad and while I do love her, it's just not healthy for me to be in a relationship where you have to walk on eggshells. Especially now that I'm pregnant for the first time and already have had complications.

Maybe someday things can work out and I'm hopeful for that but also realistic that it's going to be a long time.

Sorry for the long ramble. :)