When is it time to end a relationship? Discerning when a relationship is over

I put up a survey last month for people in my community to share what is top of mind for them right now. The issue that received the most votes was, “Responding to difficult people or difficult situations with people”.

I feel telling our own stories can often be the most powerful way to open doors for each other, so I’m going to share my story of how I came to ending a number of relationships this Spring. It has been a painful experience, and at the same time it has been positive and extremely beneficial.

My story goes back to a conversation I had with a friend early in the pandemic. She said, leaders need out-of-the-box ways of visioning right now to meet the challenges with COVID. When my friend made this statement, I thought, “Oh, maybe I should bring back a leadership vision program I retired in 2016, the Deep Rooted Authentic Leadership, Awake! (DRALA) program. I did so, and immediately enrolled a strong leader in this program.

As part of the DRALA protocol, I do the same work that my client does. That means that everything she or he does, I do it too, and we mutually create an environment of inspired change. The process begins by identifying an intention for the vision journey.

My intention was:
“I am healing my Root Chakra so I see and feel rooted in my true life purpose”

I was startled as my Higher Self unfolded an unexpected vision board in response to my intention (See a picture of my vision board below). The vision board was largely about ending relationships.

I had to face some of my beliefs about relationships. The biggest one for me was that if a relationship ended, I felt I had somehow failed… That I hadn’t worked hard enough… or I hadn’t been skilled enough to make the relationship work.

My DRALA process revealed to me that it is a natural part of life to outgrow relationships, and that this is not about failure – it is about growth. At the end of the insight section of the DRALA process, I identified what insight felt most important in relation to my intention.

My most important insight was:
Allow the breaks. It’s not failure. It’s about growing and outgrowing and creating space for relationships that enhance your high vibration.

I let go of my two old cyclamen yesterday. It has created space for new plants, space in my bedroom. They were tired. They deserved an honourable death – the letting go.

It was interesting how the letting go of these two plants felt like a part of this process for me – a teaching part of the process. These two cyclamens had been with me for around twenty years. It is unusual for cyclamen to live that long. I really loved these plants! They had been a mystical part of my journey. They bloomed when I bloomed. They went into a time of rest without blooms at times when I needed that too. So it was a big thing to say good bye to these two old friends! And yet, it was time.

One of the relationships in my life that had moved into a place of not working was that with my PhD supervisor. This relationship had been wonderful the first year of being back in university. But mysteriously, in the 2020 winter term, the relationship took a nosedive and was excruciatingly unworkable.

I went into a deep depression, and in the midst of that disheartenment, I did not take care when stepping up on a ledge one morning. I fell backward from the ledge onto my bedpost, fracturing my rib. This was a very painful and slow-healing injury, and this experience was intertwined with the process of my awakening within this relationship.

At the completion of the DRALA vision session, I identified a Spirit Action – something I wanted to physically commit to doing that would put my DRALA insight into motion in my life.

My Spirit Action was:
I will journal for one hour with Buddha Locana in connection with her wisdom, “Focus on caring for the over-exposed parts of me. Everything else will fall into place”, and explore the meaning of letting go of my PhD supervisor: (1) How I grew, (2) how I outgrew, (3) what would happen if I hung on, and (4) what is possible with letting go.

Image of Buddha Locana
from the 2012 Triratna Buddha calendar at: https://www.flickr.com/photos/fwbo/5973919158

Buddha Locana is one of the female Buddhas of the five Buddha families in Tibetan Buddhism. I have had a close relationship with her since 2015. She has been a strong source of connection for me with the Wise Feminine, and I deeply value this connection. When I first connected with her in 2015, I received that message quoted in my Spirit Action. I needed her tender care and attention to journal upon these four aspects of ending this relationship AND dismantle my former beliefs around relationships ending. I want to acknowledge that the PhD supervisor is the most important and intimate relationship one has during a 4-5-year PhD – so this was a very big step for me to take!

I did the hour of journalling and became clear within myself. I organized a meeting with my supervisor, including having a neutral mediator for that meeting. The “divorce” went well. It was done in a peaceful and mutually supportive way. I believe this says something about how important it was for me to come to a peaceful and clear place within myself so this ending could happen with love and grace.

Alongside my work on this relationship, I completed other relationships as well over the past few months. I notice that since I completed these relationship, I no longer feel the depression I felt earlier this year. It has released trapped energy, and freed some people who were likely not growing with me either.

I feel that taking time out of the busyness of life to go within and vision, like I did in this DRALA process, is one of the biggest gifts I can give myself. I strongly encourage everyone to do this, because it opens up our lives when things have become narrow and limiting.

I was part of a conversation recently about self-compassion, and we were talking about two forms of compassion: yin-compassion and yang-compassion (or feminine style compassion vs masculine style compassion). The yin style is what we typically think of as self-compassion – doing things like calming, soothing and validating ourselves. The yang style is about actually taking action for ourselves. Doing a vision process is a form of yang compassion for me.

I hope that sharing my story today may help open up ideas for change for you. I believe life is meant to be a beautiful experience. It is a sad thing when I/we forget this, and it is a glorious thing when I/we find a way to get back on track. I welcome any thoughts that may come up for you from reading my story in the comment section below. May we all grow together!

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For those who are curious, here’s some information about the DRALA program.

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