Choosing Connections – Take The Good and Take Care of Yourself

Beit Nir, a kibbutz in Israel.

Image via Wikipedia

Self-Care Tip#228 – If we choose to have someone in our lives, if we choose that it is better for us than not, than take what is good and leave the rest.

We’ve all seen them, or been them at some point through life.  Those walk-outs.  Either choice, leave or stay, takes immense courage to do well.

Tonight however, I’m thinking about the courageous who stayed.  Those who stay despite the stink in life.  Those who stay when there are bad choices by “the other” that spill over and touch us.

We choose to stay in the relationship but do we have to choose to suffer with them?

Mandy comes to mind.  Her mom was old and disinhibited.  She said inappropriate things and had mood swings.  In their past together, Mandy’s mom was younger but had still said many hurtful things and done hurtful things.  However Mandy stayed connected because she wanted her mom in her life.  Many said,

I just choose to have her.  I don’t worry, as much as I can, about the things Mom does that I don’t like.  I take care of myself now.  I stay emotionally as safe as possible but still be present in her life and let Mom be present in mine.  As long as I want her.  As long as I know I’m safe.

Mandy was like a mini version of the kibbutz I remembered visiting in Israel many years ago.  The kibbutz’s members worked a thrifty irrigation system, had interdependent living combined with separateness in a romantic setting – something green and amazing in the middle of very dry hot and otherwise empty sands.  I wanted, even then, to bring their irrigation secrets home, which brilliantly used, not misused, precious water.  They lived in something that looked close to “plenty” in a place that seemed barren of natural resources.

But memories of the kibbutz in and out through the years brought questions too about connection.  What would be enough to turn our choices to resemble theirs?  Maybe at least some of the hardships many of them have suffered.  Maybe something like abuse or terrorism would make me “walk” out on the connections my community or an individual offered.  Others may also do it for temperament reasons but extroverted temperaments would never choose that unless they felt they had to choose to be walk-outs.

Why did Mandy do it – connectedness, interdependence combined with separateness?  She chose to.  She used but didn’t misuse her mother.  For Mandy, misusing Mom would have held Mom responsible for how Mandy felt.  Mandy preserved her precious connection with Mom by taking care of her Me, her own feelings, and her connections.

Questions:  How have you stayed connected to the one(s) you love?  When they made negative choices, how did you stay safe but still connected?  Please tell me your story.

22 thoughts on “Choosing Connections – Take The Good and Take Care of Yourself

  1. I stay connected but what it means is sometimes allowing that person space to be alone for a bit. And I try to look at what that person is experiencing and to make every effort to understand. But that is the whole idea of love really.


  2. I’m really struggling with this right now. My father passed away three months ago. I didn’t call my Mom right away, because I heard that she hated (and always had hated) my dad, so I was afraid of what her response would be. When I did try calling a couple of different times, there was no answer or answering machine to leave a message on. I was partly relieved. I know that she knows of Dad’s passing, because my aunt told me she called mom and told her, but I still haven’t received any condolences from my mom. That really hurts, and I feel like just not continuing to ‘stay’ with her but rather ‘walking out’. So, I’ve picked self-preservation ‘safe’ instead of connected. If I can learn how to stay safe but still connected, that would be awesome!
    In some previous situations with my aunt, I was able to realize where the negative or moodiness was coming from and it wasn’t because of me. So I was able to enjoy the positive and let the negative roll off.


  3. I can understand Mandy. I did that, too. My mother was…well, a lot of things, but, mostly not there when I needed her and always, when she was there, expecting more than it was possible to give. It hurt; it was frustrating; it made me feel forever empty somehow. However, she was alone the last 12 years of her life, and we got close (actually because I was taking care of her after her knee replacement surgery and we watched the towers come down on 911 together). She never really changed. She just got older and, as she did, I saw the woman I’d never seen before. One who never knew how to love – one who needed to be loved desperately. So I kept her in my life, fed her ice chips as she was dying, heard her tell me she loved me for the first time in my life, and held her hand as she passed away…and realized that I had learned to love myself more by staying connected with someone who couldn’t – not wouldn’t – couldn’t love. It makes me sad. She missed so much. I would have missed so much, too, if we hadn’t stayed connected.


  4. This is a wonderful post, Thank you 🙂
    May I ramble?

    None of us is without a darker side. Even friendships are flawed. I wonder if the glory of human nature is that we learn to live with the flaws and bask in the good times. My Mother is Mrs Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. But I love her. I’m sure Darcy and Elizabeth took good care of the original Mrs Bennet and bought her a big sound proof house far from society.

    Love is not sentiment. It transcends feelings, it’s a deeper vein, and it binds without our thinking minds telling us why. In every relationship safety, physical and psychological, is paramount. But when we love someone which whatever form of love (and the forms are legion) we are inextricably linked.

    Apologies: lengthy, but your post was inspired.


  5. This is a question that so many face. We may not dissect our circumstances and options, but nevertheless, we choose.

    For me it was a bad choice that put me into such a situation, where I felt unfulfilled. I made up my mind to stay for many reasons. At the time, I felt my choices were like stink, stank, and stunk. I needed to turn one of those into a workable life. I was young and too rigid to carry it off with grace. Yet, it was grace that carried me through it. Looking back, I must realize that I don’t know what the alternative would have brought me, so I cannot judge whether I should have stayed or not. Blessings to you…


    • wow. so articulate
      “my choices were like stink, stank, and stunk. I needed to turn one of those into a workable life. I was young and too rigid to carry it off with grace. Yet, it was grace that carried me through it.”
      say it!


  6. It is difficult to stay connected with people one loves and values if they are in the bonds of addiction. Addiction disables us from loving others and from receiving the love they can no longer offer us. With hope my phone number is out there. Someday maybe a call. I don’t wait for it, however. If the call is never made, the choice of how they lived their life must be accepted by me. All I can do is be available.


  7. As the sole caregiver for a family member with disassociative identity disorder I chose to stay connected but with boundaries. As his psychiatrist said, ‘If you don’t take care of yourself who will be there to take care of him?”
    The last few years of his life were very difficult for both of u. But much more so for him. Finding a balance was hard and often frustrating but I am glad I stayed. I was blessed to have him in my life.


  8. you know out of all the questions you have came accross this one makes me feel about hurts infact sometimes we chose are connections but these conections are deadly or plain bad but we chose them out of thinking for oursleves and not really thiking about what happens when we chose them if 2 years ago i did not make a connection i had not met my ex girlfriend what would life be like now at the time i was working everyday i can look on the positive side and on the negative side on the plus side i would stay working but i would not know what was up and i think braking point would have came anyway on the posertive side i met a girl at 28 years old first time for me i found out what love felt like i went threw hell and back and today i am probably a girlfriend and job down but i have a understanding of what and why things are going on i have stayed connected to someone i would like but what i question is it good is it right is it the wrong direction she has made a negative choice witch hurt it was the right desccision but it hurt one day we shall see the results


  9. I know what it is like caring for a loved one who was at times would test me to the limits. My husband and I were sort of forced to move in with my ailing father as no one else in my family was doing a very good job of it. This was a long time ago but sometimes seems like yesterday. My mother had passed away a few years earlier (they were married 48 years) and my dad had deteriorated and had late onset Diabetes. One of the hardest things I feel was to watch my dad always so strong and capable he was like Superman to me growing up to slowly and painfully lose his dignity and all he was to a dibilitating disease. Some days I wanted to kill him (not really) but others when I saw him sit out under the tree with my young son on his lap telling him stories and hearing them both laugh uncontrollably was a joy to behold. We stayed even when my siblings disapeared. I did the best I could to make his life better and I know now how blessed we were to be so close for those few years before he passed away to be with his only love my mom. I believe loving is a choice we make and to not love is always a loss in some way. So choose to love and you will receive far more than you give.


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