Saturday, August 26, 2017

Maintaining Balance In Our Bodacious Dog Mom Life Part 5: The Road Travels Both Ways

So far, my series on how we've restored and maintained balance in our bodacious Dog Mom life has revolved around Bodacious Biscuit life, our work life, events, and the evolution and growing pains we've encountered since launching Bodacious Biscuit Love in 2013. This time around, the focus is going to be in those other areas. The bits and pieces that have nothing to do with Bodacious Biscuit Love.

In January of this year, I published a blog post titled, 'I'm Not Going To Apologize. The Road Travels Both Ways.'

To this day, that title sums up where we stand.

Earlier this year, we had invited some family down to visit and enjoy a nice meal with us. They declined. I was a little heartbroken.

To back up a bit, previously, it had always worked out to where they visited us a couple of times a year. Between those visits, Lisa would make the trip a couple of times a year. In the very beginning, Lisa and I went together. We only had Coco. He went with us. After our family got bigger, I stayed home with the kids while Lisa went.

During the last year or so, Lisa made the 5 1/2 - 6 hour round trip journey three times. In late fall of last year, Lisa asked if they wanted to come down for their usual visit between the holidays. They weren't able to make it. In January, we invited them to come down. They said no and suggested we visit them. Last month, I invited them down for our backyard anniversary party. That resulted in another, "No."

When Lisa took a one-week vacation earlier this month, I told her that if she wanted to take a day and make the trip to visit family, that was more than okay.

"Nope. I appreciate the offer, but it's been almost two years since they visited us. The road travels both ways."

I left it at that.

For me, that expression represents more than just traveling. Figuratively speaking, it's a representation of balance within any type of relationship.

Think back to a relationship in your life when things were one sided. You were putting in all the effort. Maybe it was a co-worker who you always helped out and covered for, but when you had an emergency and needed to rely on them, they couldn't be bothered. Or, maybe it was that friend who never called you back or always forgot your birthday. Or, it could be that person in your life who is always too busy and they think their "busy" is busier than your "busy."

Lisa and I have had quite a few of those people in our lives over the years. Our circle used to be gigantic. Now, it's small.

Part of restoring and maintaining balance within our home was recognizing these one-sided relationships and either distancing ourselves from them or completely severing ties.

It wasn't easy. I've always been one to give people the benefit of the doubt and chance after chance after chance. Lisa, on the other hand, is more realistic. She spots the red flags before I do. She sees the reality of a situation through the smoke and mirrors charade before I do. She notices when people are taking advantage of me or us before I do.

How did we distance ourselves or sever ties with these one-sided relationships? With most, we simply reduced the amount of effort we were putting into the relationship or we stopped completely. And by "efforts," I'm referring to anything that supported their need for us. For a lot of these relationships, we served a purpose. They had a use for us. I wanted to eliminate that.

One of these relationships was with a couple we liked a lot. We had common ground. We spent a lot of time with them. However, the red flags started popping up and waving, "Hello!" Lisa and I continuously waited on them hand and foot. We were always there with cupcakes, cookies, and other baked treats. We provided them with endless amounts of biscuit love. When they needed help with something, we were there. We went all out for their birthdays and anniversary. When they needed a photographer on several occasions, I stepped up to the plate. We raised money for them a few times when things were needed towards their rescue efforts.

Shortly before we distanced ourselves, they would make plans with us and then cancel either at the last minute or after we were supposed to meet up. It wasn't easy for Lisa and I to shuffle our schedule around to make a trip to their home or other location. Once they were supposed to come here.

Each time, we'd make the 30-minute trip, get to their home or other location, and wait. I'd text, "Where are you? We're here." I'd get a text back letting us know they had to cancel. Or, they'd text when we were on the road. The day they were supposed to come over, I had made some appetizers and cookies. About twenty minutes after they were due to be here, I got the cancellation text.

Over a span of a month and a half, they did this to us 5 times. That was it for me. Lisa had been done with them months ago. My absolute final straw was the text I got on my birthday two months after that. They were too busy to come over. After we had gone all out for their birthdays, I got a "Happy Birthday" text.

That's when I severed ties completely. 

As we continued the gradual process of distancing ourselves and severing ties with the people who kept us around because we served a purpose, our circle got smaller and smaller. It was a little painstaking to realize just how many people we had in our life who had been taking advantage of us. Our kindness. Our time. Our money. Once they had no use for us and we no longer served a purpose, we became disposable.

On the other hand, while all of that was happening, Lisa and I got a clear view of who are real friends are. These people, over time, have become family to us. They've always had our backs. They love us unconditionally and choose to have us in their life. They celebrate special occasions and holidays with us. And, when there's nothing specific to celebrate, we celebrate love and life.

The relationships with these people don't revolve around what we do for them.

What we ended up with is a small circle, but it's a balanced one. Lisa and I have become more cautious about who we allow in our life. I've stopped giving chance after chance after chance. When Lisa spots those infamous red flags, I listen.

She's a wise woman.

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