I'm working with someone who is going through a pile of difficult stuff right now. She has a complicated trauma history, and has been abandoned more than once. She is convinced by trial and error that nothing will ever turn out well for her - the universe has shown its capricious hand with her over and over again, and she feels as though she has been taught the truth by life.
As is often the case with people who have fallen into a run of terrible luck, she is sure that she has done something wrong, navigated poorly, and that because of this things will never change. She is mired in a relationship right now, or the semblance of a relationship, and she feels as though she is being taken advantage of.
Today she told me that she thinks she should just drop this relationship, just never answer another text or call or email, and move on. She pointed to the example of a friend of hers who did this. It just seemed so healthy. This example "proved" that this is how to handle this situation.
I asked her to imagine her emotional reaction if she just walked away from this guy. If she dropped all communication and no longer had him to talk to. She told me that she'd feel lonely, broken and abandoned. She'd feel lost. She'd take a while to recover.
I asked her how healthy that sounded to her.
After a pause and some reflection she began to understand what I was getting at. I'm not sure I agree with the concept of "mental health" as prescribed by endless movies and tv shows. We see our friends' behavior from the outside, with no idea how it really feels on the inside. My client's concept of "healthy" is an impossible standard for her.
To me, healthy starts when you accept who you are, and what you need, whether or not it's ideal. And, trust me, it's rarely ideal. If you know who you are, and you're okay with what you need, you can start adjusting your environment accordingly. You're going to be a lot happier functioning as your true self in an environment that fits that self, rather than trying to force changes in yourself to fit an environment. I would, of course, never recommend that someone stay in a relationship that is abusive or degrading. At the same time, I would never judge them if they felt the need to pull away slowly. I can't look into them, or into their relationship. No one can. Luckily, my client is not in a damaging relationship like this.
As my client works towards independence, and self-worth, the last thing she needs is to pull the floor out from under herself. Less-than-ideal relationships, imperfect jobs, tentative engagement with the world - all can function as transitional objects as one finds out where one really belongs, and goes there.