Tuesday Re-mix –
Broken relationships are like infections, they only get worse with time, and the consequences can be devastating.
They almost always start the same way. There are hurt feelings which go unaddressed. Maybe there was bad behavior involved, or maybe there was just an oversight. Maybe there was no wrong doing at all. But feelings got hurt and were left that way with no meaningful attempt to deal with them. The injured person tries to ignore the pain or tries to hurt the other person in return, but the pain itself is left to fester, much like leaving an infection unattended. Very soon after that, the relationship is broken.
But like the infection, the damage then is only beginning. There are actual stages of brokenness in the relationship. They can be identified, even measured to some extent. There is a common progression, a typical stage-by-stage process which every broken relationship goes through. The stages represent some clear “red flags” which I can use to check myself. When I see these things happening in me, I can know I have crossed a line and need to do something about it. Depending on the person and the circumstances, some may go through the stages quickly, and others more slowly. But when my relationship with you breaks,the progression is fairly predictable:
Stage 1: “Otherization” – You determine that I am no longer “one of you”. I am suddenly different. I have a different character, a different essence. This represents a distinct change in “us”. You “otherize” me when you suddenly choose to focus on what is different and you choose to ignore all our history which may show otherwise. Maybe this distancing is just a defense mechanism, or maybe it is a conscious choice. Either way, it is taking a step …