The Time I Didn’t Burn the House Down on the Way Out
This is how endings normally go for me: there are tears. Bargaining. Misunderstanding, blame, resentment, hurt feelings. And swearing: lots and lots of swearing.
In short, when it’s time to walk away, I don’t just walk out the door, I light a match and burn the whole mutha-f*ing house down. This has been a consistent pattern in my relationships. There is not one person that I’ve been in an intimate relationship with in the past that I’m still in contact with. Not one. Not my ex-husband, not my high school boyfriends, not my apex once-in-a-lifetime paramour.
WTF. I am a mostly reasonable, self-aware, marginally evolved adult. And yet: so much drama.
Just last week, I had the opportunity to practice doing endings differently. For the past 12 months, I’ve been a mentor and trainer of a group of Professional Life Coaches in training through Accomplishment Coaching. My 12 month tenure was coming to an end. I had the opportunity to continue on to the next level in my own leadership and training with the company. And yet, I chose to be complete. To be clear: the role of Mentor Coach involves intense, intimate connection and deep relationship with a very small community of humans. It’s like family, except way more raw and vulnerable. I love my leadership team. They love me.
To leave while the party’s still good is unfathomable for me. It’s something I’ve never done. So far, my options in ending relationship-based connections have been: A) create conditions sufficient to have the other person leave; B) allow the relationship to deteriorate (or combust) on its own; C) sever all ties; or D) all of the above, the most predictable outcome.
And yet, in service of practicing having endings go another way- the way where all parties continue to like, love, and respect each other, when I completed my year of service as a mentor coach (creating the space to both lead- and take!- some extra special retreats this year, write my book, and lavish my partner and family with extra TLC), I chose to walk out the door, close it gently, AND LEAVE IT UNLOCKED!!! I did not strike a match. I did not instigate an emotional fire for me or for other people. I did not burn the house down.
What I am present to in the anticlimactic (no flames! no destruction! no ashes!) wake of this ending is the monumental implications in all areas of my life, not just in relationships or when things end. More grace, ease, expression, sustainability, respect for the inherent dignity and worth of myself and others. Groundbreaking.
My hope is that as you read this, you get curious about what your own pattern is with endings, and what other options might be available to you. Ponder on the following, and email me if you’d like further support or reflection:
1) How do you typically do endings?
2) What is the impact of the way you do endings—positive, AND negative?
3) What will you try on, instead?
4) What will the impact be of trying on something new, in all areas of your life?
ps: For your listening enjoyment as you ponder: https://youtu.be/_3eC35LoF4U