Space and Wings

I don’t have children.  I’m not a parent.  But I think I understand a little of what parenting is like.  It’s that level of responsibility for another being, a human being, one whom is vulnerable and dependent and with whom your heart is entirely bound up.  Sometimes you get that feeling in an adult to adult relationship.  You pour yourself into that other person, doing everything you can for them, to keep them well and healthy and safe.  The problem is that in an adult to adult relationship it can result in an unbalanced relationship.  Adults aren’t meant to be so entirely dependent on each other.  That’s the whole point of being an adult after all.  The one who is giving can only give so much and the other person needs to be appreciative of that help and support.  That help and support also has to make a difference.  I don’t think that there are many situations where such an adult to adult relationship is sustainable for the long term.  There has to be a change at some point, even if it is more heartbreaking.  And it’s so important that the giver can see that they’re making a difference and that they’re appreciated.  Otherwise an already demanding situation becomes an impossible one.  I give.  I’m a generous person.  But there’s only so much that I can give.  And then there’s the fact that I feel.  I feel everything so much and so deeply.  It makes it all the more exhausting, draining even.  It’s very hard.  And it can mean that you’re more tuned into how someone else is feeling and thinking than they are.  They don’t always appreciate it.  You can love them with all your heart but the power to change has to come from them.  They are responsible themselves at the end of the day.  Even if you’re both in denial about this.  Children grow up.  Adults are grown up.  Even when ill or damaged or vulnerable.  They have to have their own space.  They have to take responsibility for themselves.  If they don’t want to help themselves or take their medicine or choose to throw their toys out of the pram, it’s with them.  Not you.  However personal that may feel.  Or however much responsibility you may feel.  The other problem is that you can give too much, you can be bound too tightly to the other person.  You end up forgetting who you are.  You end up not having your own life.  They are your everything and you pour all your energies and resources into them.  That’s not balanced.  Or sustainable.  Adults are fledged.  They might not be the world’s best fliers but they have their own wings.  Sometimes you have to make a heartbreaking decision and let them fly themselves.  You need the space because you are now broken too, drained with nothing left to give.  And the worst is that you know that by letting go, by giving both of you that space you need, that they’re probably just going to crash.  You can see it coming.  But there’s nothing that you can do.  You just have to step back.  You need the space to recover, to breathe and to find yourself.  You’ve done all you can, if not more, even if you’re desperate to just give a little bit more.  But no.  It’s time for a little bit of space.  You need to gather your own strength and look after yourself now.  Because when you’ve done all you can, it’s up to them.  And honestly, that’s always been the case.  Even if you will always feel that responsibility.  Now they need to go out on their own wings.  And you just wait for them to break, heartbroken.


4 thoughts on “Space and Wings

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  1. I was in an adult relationship like that. It was incredibly draining on me, and needless to say, it did not work out. I totally lost myself, and I really didn’t get myself back until I had kids. Now, I give my all to them, but in a healthy and fulfilling way.

  2. This is beautiful. It made me think of my sister. Before she died, my Mom and I had to pull back. But Dad raced headlong with her into disaster, and when she killed herself, it crushed him. He kept trying to save a nearly thirty year old woman instead of stepping back. He enabled instead of loving. And in the end, he still couldn’t save her. Because you can’t. Because she is an adult.

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