My 15-year-old son has a girlfriend (I know, I know. He's far too young. A baby!). He's smitten. They recently celebrated their one-month anniversary. A week later he visited the cottage of another friend. A girl. A visit that was planned months ago with this good friend.
Cue the drama: His girlfriend became convinced that "something" would happen between my son and his friend. And so she flirted with some guy over text, something my son only knows because a friend of his girlfriend sent him screen shots of the offending texts. My son plans to ask his girlfriend for the "truth" and if she lies to his face then he'll "have to decide what to do next."
It's not easy for me to back off and let my people in my life figure things out on their own though I try mightily. And so I asked my son some questions: What, to him, constitutes "cheating"? How important is honesty in any relationship? Where does he draw the line in what he will and will not tolerate in a relationship? How much is enough?
It's a question we all need to examine for ourselves. For some of us, putting up with someone's shit is a far easier life to imagine than being left or walking away. Far more tempting to tolerate an unhealthy relationship than none at all.
But we don't usually see it in those stark terms. We don't usually realize the fear beneath these choices that don't really feel like choices. We don't see that, by refusing to take a stand about what we will and won't tolerate, we're betraying ourselves. We think we're avoiding pain. But really, we're absorbing it.
How much is enough?
"Enough" for me is the refusal of a partner to take responsibility for his choices and a refusal to do the work necessary to help us heal.
"Enough" for you might be his choice to cheat in the first place. "Enough" might be his choice to gamble away the mortgage. It might be his dedication to porn. "Enough" might be the first time he hits you. "Enough" might be the 87th time.
"Enough" is that place we come to where we realize that our own integrity is worth the price of heartbreak. It's where we take responsibility for our own choices and insist that others take responsibility for theirs. Enough is where we realize that standing firm in our own convictions won't be the easy thing but it will always be the right thing. Enough is freedom.
As for my son: I hope that he won't betray himself by moving the line between what he will and won't tolerate in order to avoid heartbreak. In any case, if this goes on much longer, I promise you I will have had more than enough. ;)