Imagine you have an ex-boyfriend with whom you’ve tried to maintain a friendship for far longer than is healthy. In an “on” moment of your on-again off-again relationship, you agree to attend a concert, one of the few activities that you both fully enjoyed while with each other. You make a plan to each try to score tickets to see one of your favorite artists. You figure if both of you are trying, you have a better chance. You’re in luck! Both of you land seats. Yours are pretty decent. His, he tells you, “are pretty incredible.” Except they cost $700 each. “Absolutely not,” you tell him, “I can’t afford that” (that $1400 is your rent and then some).
Trouble is, your ex charged the tickets to your credit card (yah), assuring you it would be his treat, even as you protested that this “gift” was too extravagant.
Things get funky from there. That old familiar feeling of being railroaded and manipulated gnaws at you. “Why did I agree to do this?” you ask yourself. Why am I trying to make nice with this person who in the course of five years abused me emotionally, financially, and physically? You vow that once the concert’s over, you’ll never get involved with him again. But the shame of knowing you’re back in it is creeping in. For brief moments, the thought of second row seats and the hope of free drinks that come with your one-night-only VIP status make dealing with your bullying ex for three, four hours tops, seem bearable. Until he calls you up, irritated, asking “how did I get on the hook for $1400?” (or something insane like that). It all comes back now. As you figure out how you’re going to sell them, the anger rises in you as you remember all the other times you were let down. The self recriminations set in as you wonder how on earth you could have let him close enough to do it to you all over again. But then you stop yourself.
The anger is keeping you tied to him. Time to let it go. And with it, the tickets.
This is a true story, that of my dearest friend of 30 years, Andrea. I share it with you (with her permission) because she has come up with a brilliant solution for dealing with this dilemma that is a great lesson in how to transmute pain into something healing.
Instead of trying to sell the tickets and make back the $1400, Andrea has decided to hold a raffle. By donating $25 to an organization called “God’s Love We Deliver,” and checking the box for “Leonard Cohen at Radio City Music Hall,” you will be entered into a raffle to win 2 center, 2nd row VIP Tickets to Leonard Cohen at Radio City Music Hall for Sat, May 16th, 2009.
God’s Love We Deliver grew out of one woman’s practice of taking food to a neighbor with AIDS who was unable to cook for himself. It has grown into a coordinated effort to provide meals and nutritional counseling to people living with serious illnesses.
What I love about Andrea’s solution is that in caring for others, she is caring for herself. By letting go of the tickets and the hope of getting her money back, she is cutting the ties of anger that have kept her in this abusive relationship for far too long. By raffling the tickets, someone who loves music as much as she does will get to experience an event that they could likely not afford otherwise. By asking people to donate to God’s Love We Deliver, she is the conduit through which many others will be fed, both physically and spiritually. In the process, she is honoring the memory of her brother, Mark, who died of AIDS in 1993.
That’s how to end a relationship—for good.