“The way out is the way in.” Barbara Brown Taylor. “Learning to Walk in the Dark.”
Endings can be so hard, painful, and fraught with emotion, so this statement struck me as profound. In fact, if you are thinking about exiting an unhealthy relationship and want to do it without bitterness, then consider the way you entered into it. Provided that you have thought it through, wrestled and come to a conclusion, it may be the moment to make an exit plan.
Was the way in done with intention, with kindness and with hope for the best? Then this is the way to leave.
First, deal with the hurt, the pain and anger. With this in mind, it’s so important to process, feel your feelings and validate them. Because the pain you feel is real. Find ways to express what you’re going through, journal, vent, cry, or scream. Talk it out, but be very careful.
Talk only with a safe friend or therapist.
Then, offer forgiveness – most likely this is best done between you and God. This is not to say you should never try to sort out or discuss what went wrong, but please be cautious. Because if the other person has no true sense of the damage done, there is nothing to gain by entering into dialogue with them, except perhaps incurring more hurt for both of you. Remember the analogy of words spoken being like toothpaste coming out of a tube? Once they’re out they cannot be taken back, just like the toothpaste cannot be squeezed back into the tube. This is vital to take into account as you make your exit plan.
Moreover, forgiveness does not necessarily mean continuing in relationship – restoration is not always possible nor is it necessarily wise to do so. Forgiveness is instead freedom from the poison of bitterness. And forgiveness is not a one-time deal, it is movement towards healing, one step at a time. In this respect you may need to repeat the process of forgiveness over and over again.
Release it, release them.
This is no longer a safe place for you. Therefore, be intentional about setting boundaries in place.
In other words, protect your heart. This is not about being mean. It is about wisdom.
You are a valuable person and your Creator loves you. Clothe yourself in your God-given strength and dignity. Hold your head up high.
A great resource for setting boundaries and one I’ve found very helpful is, Boundaries Updated and Expanded Edition: When to Say Yes, How to Say No To Take Control of Your Life .
Be kind. The time for recriminations is over.
Offer only kindness when and if you interact.
Accordingly, be courteous and respectful. Do not wade back into murky waters.
And hope for the best, for yourself and the person you are leaving behind. Certain in the knowledge that you are leaving them in God’s hands.
There is a world of possibilities, and people waiting, discover them.
Some friendships can be challenging, but don’t let that stop you.
Finally, know that healing will come, though it may be slow. There will be scar tissue, yes, and, it will bring the pain back if you get triggered. At the same time, you will need to grieve your losses; do so with impunity, fully and completely.
The way out is the way in – exit plan
“The way out is the way in.”
So, as much as possible, let your exit plan be intentional, kind, and hopeful.
Going forward, live in the grace, comfort and peace that only your loving Heavenly Father can give. Because He loves you and holds you.
P.S. Please note that if you are in an abusive relationship of any kind, in any setting, it is important to make sure that you are safe. I urge you to get professional help. The guidelines may be different. Your well-being and safety are of utmost importance.