Jesus did it. Isn’t that enough?
Am I really required to bear my soul to the one who tortured it? Offering my forgiveness is one thing, but seriously? How on earth am I supposed to ask forgiveness from the people who have hurt me the most? With no motive or guarantee of reciprocity? And on top of that, in this moment of transparency and vulnerability, my own healing is tied to a commitment to make it right?
Anybody who thinks they can recover from toxic relationships on their own is fooling themselves. Addictions to substances are broken with a Sponsor, a support group, 12 Steps, and a belief in a Higher Power. So is an addiction to chaos. I didn’t realize that until I tried to seek help— to fix him.
Hi, I’m Kairis, and l am a struggling approval addict.
When I’m at my best I serve my community by employing self-sacrifice, grace, and a willingness to give everything I have. But when I’m jonesing for validation I become a people-pleasing martyr who needs to be needed even when I have nothing left. It’s a high initially, but I come away depleted and feeling worse than I did before.
For years, I thought this made me a good person. In truth, it made me a good person to manipulate if that was your survival skill, and left me prone to relationships with people who have addictive personalities. At my bottom, I lost my marriage and a close friend. I blamed his drinking and her mental health. But in my recovery I realized they were just symptoms. I was drawn to brokenness, because it fit my own emotional patterns.
Working my steps was thrilling, and exhausting.
Making changes is easy enough to commit to when you’re in crisis. Sustaining a change of deeply ingrained habits is hard. It requires a whole new life skill set. I had to accept not knowing what I was doing most of the time. If that wasn’t hard enough on the ego, to complete the process I had to make out loud, on purpose amends.
Matthew 5:23-24 says,
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.”
I looked up the word amends just to see if a secular definition would ease some of this responsibility. It was even worse. To make amends means to offer indemnity.
In·dem·ni·ty: to compensate (someone) for harm or loss. To secure (someone) against legal responsibility for their actions.
So even if that person is no longer in my life because of unmanageable circumstances, I cannot get away with just getting over it.
Apparently I have to live for Christ by living like Christ.
I had to set down the gift of my freedom from the sins that lead to unhealthy attachments and go back humbly, compensate for any harm I’ve done, and release any emotional debt I held for them in my heart. I could no longer hold anyone responsible for my unhappiness.
Oh, my God!
Because that is the only way it was going to happen; through the supernatural power of His grace.
While I highly recommend freeing oneself from the chains of bitterness (that inevitably comes from heartbreak whether we admit it or not), it is not for the faint of heart.
When we change our old relationship styles, the people we affect can have some pretty intense reactions. It can turn another person’s life upside down when you turn yours right side up. They may not know how to love you through it. You may not even know how to love yourself. Partner up with the Soul Survivor of human sin so that you can cover any love gaps in your journey.
That’s your blessed assurance.
Forgive, ask forgiveness, make it right.
In Jesus’ Name, Amend.
At 40-something Kairis Chiaji, born and raised in Oakland, CA, is a happy wife with citizenship in two countries thanks to her Kenyan husband. She has the honor of being mother to three biological children, and through foster care, adoption and community, 14 more born in her heart. She is a Professional and Community Doula, a Caterer, writer, and an advocate for homeless women and children. She also has a passion for natural beauty. A Master Braider with 36 years of experience perfecting braids, locs and twists. Kairis is a self employed, self-proclaimed natural hair artist, escaping only to coach laboring women at whatever hour a baby decides to enter the world. Doulas, like Brides of Christ, are on-call 24/7.