In “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” Stephen Covey speaks about the importance of creating “win-win” relationships. In other words, each person involved experiences the interaction as being mutually beneficial. This idea resonated with me because most of my relationships, prior to the birth of my special-needs son, were “win-lose” with me being the loser. I frequently found myself on the losing end because I was willing to tolerate almost anything. Even when relationships became extraordinarily burdensome, I would still try to keep them going because of loyalty (I rarely received in return).

After my son turned two, I hit my threshold of tolerance and decided to make a change. I no longer had the time, nor patience to nurture a one-sided relationship. I created a boundary for myself to only engage in “win-win” relationships. I took a few years to meticulously carve the toxic people out of my life, and my reward was genuine peace and happiness. The process was extremely difficult, especially holding the boundary once people realized what I was doing. Despite the pain, the fight for my well being was worth it in the end.

I didn’t realize I was holding on to unproductive relationships until the birth of my son. My time became super tight, so I was forced to evaluate everything. I am grateful for being on the special-needs path because I’ve been forced to confront issues head on that probably would have lingered indefinitely. Even if your journey is different than mine, I highly recommend taking an inventory of your relationships to determine if they are fruitful. You deserve the best, so begin to expect it from others.