I’m one of those people who fail to respect their own boundaries. The type that falls prey to wishful thinking, to hopefulness, to forgiving too easily. I advise others not to do this, but I struggle to internalize this concept in my own life. So while I am not a big fan of “Do as I say, not as I do,” that is basically the message I’m going to convey in this post. That even if I am not a good example of this, I still think it’s important. More than important; it can be life-altering. And that message is:
As a rule, don’t give second chances.
You can forgive. You can let things go. In fact, it’s often beneficial for you to do so, as harboring that pain and those emotions over how you were wronged weighs you down more than the person(s) who wronged you. Try, if you can, to shed that baggage, or at least as much of it as you are able. Free yourself to live, to learn from the experience, to grow…to progress in life. But do not give users and abusers entry back into your life. Give people only one chance, and if they blow it, save your next chance for someone/something else. Do not give them a second chance – period. Screw that.
I don’t care how truly “sorry” they are and how much they have supposedly “changed.” Let them be sorry somewhere else and let them demonstrate the extent of their newfound change with someone else. It is not healthy for you to place yourself back in harm’s way for someone else’s gratification. The risk is not worth it. The likelihood is that at some point you are going to be hurt again, betrayed again, lied to again, disappointed again, let down again. That’s what users do – they use. That’s what abusers do – they abuse. Maybe intentionally; maybe unintentionally…what does it matter, though? The “why” won’t provide you with any resolution or relief from your hurt.
I like to see the good in people. I like to believe that people can change. I like to believe that people can be redeemed. And maybe they can.
But that doesn’t mean that you have to allow them back in. Let them be changed over there – beyond the fence. From a safe distance. Not up close. Not here with me and mine.
You see, when you let people in, you are vulnerable. You are accessible. You are unprotected. They have proximity and opportunity to do damage that would be inconceivable from a distance, and worse yet, you gave them license to do it by allowing them inside. If they have hurt you before, they do not deserve a chance to be able to hurt you again. Because almost almost always they will. And when they do so, they will exonerate themselves. Somehow it will be your fault.
If you are a person of faith, and a Christian in particular, you might be especially in danger of violating your personal boundaries in an attempt to reconcile with others. Don’t do that. Don’t fall for that. You have a right to say, “No,” just like anyone else. You have a right to be cautious just like anyone else. I don’t care how many Bible verses they quote and how contrite they might seem; some of the most untrustworthy, harmful people you will meet are those who profess to be followers of Christ. Jesus said that He came that you might have life, and life more abundantly. He never said anything about you having to endure manipulation, hurt, and deceit for others to relieve their guilty consciences. You don’t need that, and you don’t have to take that. You deserve better.
But it’s not just people of faith who tend to find themselves in these predicaments. Many of us do, regardless of our background, walk of life, or our different pasts. For some reason, we somehow suspend our better judgment when it come to some of the most fundamental elements of caring for and looking out for ourselves. We might do a phenomenal job at advocating for and with others, but we all too frequently suck at being able to do the same for ourselves, even thought we should know better.
For example, I recently compromised my standards and allowed an individual back into my life who claimed to have been transformed from within. This is someone from my past who had repeatedly shown that they were unreliable, untrustworthy, dishonest, and dangerous. However, I will admit that even to the trained eye, this time they really, truly *seemed* to have changed for the better. They talked a good game and seemed sincere. They weren’t though; they were the same POS that they had always been. They just knew how to mask it better now, and had honed their ability to deflect, conflate, and manipulate almost to a science. Of course they were dripping with “God” talk too. What hypocrite would be complete without that part?
As I contend with the aftermath, I now have to acknowledge that none of this could have occurred without my consent and participation. Somehow I did not value myself enough to prioritize self-protection and chose to elevate the emotional needs of another above that of my own – despite having sufficient previous experience to alert me that this was not in my best interest. Yet here I am…again. Twice bitten, thrice die…as I will die before I ever make that mistake again. And I don’t want you to make it either. It can so easily be prevented…it can so easily be avoided. All you have to do is not give second chances. Why is the teeny, tiny, microscopic, practically non-existent possibility that they might actually be kinda okay worth more than your psyche, your mental health, your heart, your boundaries? It isn’t.
We have only one life. There is only one you. You cannot be replaced, and in some cases, if you suffer too much damage you cannot be repaired. You have value. You have worth. If there is only one of you, why give anyone a second chance at anything that has to do with you? One chance is more than enough. Whatever they choose to do with that chance – use it wisely or squander it – is beyond your control. But you CAN control whether you will grant an encore to someone who has proven themselves to be unsafe. And you should choose not to do it. Because the *slim* chance that they will actually not screw it up this time is not worth the huge probability that they will f*<k you over again, like they did before – and will find a way to blame that on you, too.
No second chances. If they don’t do it right the first time, they aren’t entitled to an opportunity to try again. That’s not being unkind, unforgiving, or unrepentant. That’s simply survival.
I’m not saying that they should never get a second chance. We ALL mess up; we’ve all gotten second chances, third chances, fourth chances. I’m not saying that no one will ever get it right or that people never change. They can get a second chance in life. But why should it be with you?
Let them reinvent themselves somewhere else with someone else.
|Text reads, “Everybody deserves a second chance, but not for the same mistake.” Image behind the text is of a busy street in traffic viewed through a rain-streaked window. Photo credit: Love This Pic|