Multiply by Zero

There are people in my life that I consider zeros. 

I’m not trying to be mean. Hear me out. They might be amazing, lovely, sweet people going about their life happily. Maybe they are good for someone else.  I don’t know and I won’t judge them like that. But they have zero positive contribution in my life.

“Zeros” are the people that serve as a source of drama and complaints in my life. They criticize constantly or always come up with a ‘problem’ that I need to fix. They rain on parades when I’m celebrating and one-up everything.  They are the people that I know gossip behind my back or belittle me or simply don’t make a mutual effort to invest in the relationship. My Zeros are the people that leave me feeling stressed and icky after being around them most of the time.

And it’s frustrating to me. I am naturally the kind of person that will assume the fault and blame when a situation turns sour. I have a temper. I make mistakes. I know there have been times that I’ve been a zero to other people. So when I see a relationship struggling, I blame myself for not knowing better or not trying hard enough. Natural instinct kicks in and I feel the desire to keep trying and trying until I am drained physically and emotionally.

I’ve spent years trying to make these relationships work, make these people like me, and cultivate something healthy. Yet, no matter how much is poured into the relationship, it comes up empty.

Because anytime you multiply a number by zero, you still get zero. 

It doesn’t matter how much time or effort or forgiveness I pour into these relationships. I can’t win. For whatever reason, these people aren’t in a place in their life that we can operate in a healthy, mutual relationship. I can’t save someone that doesn’t want to be saved. It isn’t my responsibility to stick around in an unhealthy situation. There is nothing I can do to change this.

The obvious answer is to cut my losses and get out of these relationships then, right? It sounded like a good idea to me as I am rather stringent on the people I associate myself with. (Good vibes only, or something less cliche) But what happens when these people are my in laws? Or a coworker I see everyday? Or someone I care deeply for? The water gets muddied and the decision doesn’t seem so black and white anymore.

The truth still remains. Multiply by zero and you still get zero. 

This is something I’ve been struggling with lately because it doesn’t seem fair. It isn’t fair. It’s not fair that my daughter is missing out on relationships with family. It isn’t fair that I forego social events and meetups because I’m not sold on the company attending. It isn’t fair to those people that I cut out of my life. It doesn’t give me any pleasure or enjoyment isolating myself or playing the bad guy. It’s lonely as hell actually.

But more often than not, my final act of departing was a coup de grâce for the relationship. It was time to stop the vicious cycle; stop the frustration, the resentment, the stress. A mercy kill. There is no guilt in killing something that was already on it’s last breath.

And I can live with that.

Where one relationship might fail, another may thrive in its place.

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