The Last Goodbye
By D.S. Mitchell
As we hurry through life, we meet many people. Some are just a touch on the sleeve, quickly forgotten, while others become part of the fabric of our lives. Becoming enmeshed in the life of another person can be a good thing, but just as often it can be a bad thing.
When a once healthy relationship sours, whether after five years or forty, we are often left confused about what happened. In other cases, we know exactly what happened and wonder why we let ourselves continue a relationship that was not only unhealthy, but harmful to us, for as long as we did.
With the holidays coming at us like Richard Petty heading into a straight away, I am cleaning out my relationship closet. Sometimes the holidays magnify everything that you know is wrong with that broken friendship.
But for a thousand reasons, you keep fussing with it, nurturing it, feeding it; hoping it will surge back to life. Sometimes it does fire back to life, but usually the relationship is on life support by this time and is sputtering toward extinction. The end-time; being the only unknown.
Let me explain. I am a rescuer, I mean, a rescuer on steroids. The worse the situation; the bigger my cape. I have spent most of my life working as an RN. Most of my nurse buddies have the same affliction.
I guess when I think about it, it makes sense. Nurses want to make everything and everybody better. We’ll fluff and buff, arranging everything just so. That personality quirk might be okay in the hospital, but when carried into life it can be painfully unsuccessful.
In my case, the end came last weekend. After knowing Dave for 35 years I am finally done. I have severed all communication. I cannot and will not resume the relationship. His illness has reached a point that I can no longer be of any help. In fact, my involvement may be contributing to his worsening symptoms.
I finally recognize he is worse for me than pneumonia. No tears, no anger, just acceptance and relief. When the burden of another person’s mental illness becomes too heavy to drag another inch you have to put the burden down. There should be no guilt. At this point, your only goal should be to preserve your own mental well-being.
The only reason I am sharing this with the world is that I thought it might help someone else who is struggling with mental illness in a relationship. I know you hear it repeated, but there is a great deal of truth in being able to put yourself first.
Maybe not always, but at some point if you can’t be number one, you won’t be able to help him, or you. No matter that it is Christmas, somethings can’t wait to end. Sometimes the last goodbye is the sweetest, the most honest, and the most necessary.
**I have no safety concerns with Dave. He is a non-violent person. That is not always the case with those suffering from a mental disorder. The assumption in my article is that the person you are separating from is under the care of a psychiatrist or nurse practitioner and has made no recent suicide threats, or threatened your life.
If the person in question has made recent threatening statements, please let the person’s mental health providers know about the situation and involve them immediately. And, yes, in some extreme circumstances the police may become involved. Don’t under any circumstances put your safety at risk.* *