It is one of the hardest damn things in life. It may well be THE hardest damn thing in life.
Think about it. From our first, best, favourite toy to the security of our momma’s apron strings, from that great high-school love we thought would never end to an unacceptable marriage that actually did, from anything we become addicted to (booze, drugs, sex, Netflix) to a beloved pet to whom we must bid farewell, from an aged parent lost to the circle of life to an unexpected death that blindsides us … letting go is the inevitable adventure no one wants to undertake. Letting go is a messy, often lengthy and sometimes distasteful journey that can seem impossible to start, much less finish.
But letting go we must.
Over and over and over again, we must let go.
I will not bore you here with flowery analogies of trees and leaves and snow and tulips. Blah blah and then more fucking blah.
Letting go of something real and true and valuable and beloved is fucking hard! Letting go of something stinky and putrid and soul-destroying and unhealthy is also hard. Really hard if it was something (or someone) who brought immense pleasure to your life, no matter how destructive. Letting go to the natural and expected cycle of existence is hard, even when you fully compute and accept the natural and expected cycle of existence.
But you wanna know what is REALLY really hard?
Choosing to let go.
Choosing to let go is really, really hard.
Because you could also choose to hang on. You could choose to keep trying. You could choose to be a martyr, or a saint, or patience-personified or even dumb as a fucking rock. You could choose any of the above and keep hanging on to whatever it is you THINK you should maybe, perhaps, sooner-rather-than-later let go of because whatever it is (or he/she is) is probably gonna kill you but goddammit you won’t let go because YOU are not a quitter and you won’t give up or give in or … put yourself first.
Put yourself first.
Well, you selfish twat. How dare you?
How dare you think about yourself when there are millions (literally) of people you could think of first and, if you factor in all your loved ones (and pets) who have left you or died and who you continue to grieve for loudly and endlessly, well, we can at the very least add a few more hundred to the list.
YOU can choose to keep hanging on and not letting go until the end of time, all under the guise of nobility. No, not nobility – noble-ness. Selflessness. Magnanimity. I don’t even know what the right word is. The word for someone who believes that by ignoring and/or diminishing their own needs and wants and RIGHT to LIVE a HAPPY LIFE, they are a better person.
It’s like a hair shirt. (Look it up if you’re drawing a blank.) Punishing yourself for sins you never committed because the truth is you don’t actually believe you deserve anything.
Letting go makes you the bad guy. And God knows nobody wants to be the bad guy. Especially not those people described in the previous paragraph. Those folks have made a career out of being the GOOD GUY. And even if it kills them they are not letting go of that moniker anytime soon.
I know what it feels like to be the BAD GUY and I’ll tell you it is not fun.
You know what is even less fun?
NOT letting go to something that is suffocating you. Something that you have tried to amend and alter and renegotiate and even forgive and that damn thing still wants to kill you. That damn thing (or person) still wants you to believe that it is YOUR fault that everything is fucked up. YOUR fault. So you hang on yet again hoping and praying and pleading with The Universe that YOU can fix this problem because it is YOUR fault after all.
Fuck the fuck off.
I am done. I am done with accepting a guilty verdict from a jury of uninformed idiots.
And so now, my life’s great mandate is to learn how to LET GO. Learn how to let go when hanging on just might drown me. That’s right … the branch is there, offering me a chance at redemption and if I hang on I might get it but the reality is that if I keep hanging on to that spindly, lopsided branch … it will probably break anyway and I will probably be swept away by a roaring current and I will probably die at the bottom of a murky, corpse-filled river.
With no one to blame but myself.
Which brings me to my point.
(Really, Vickie … you actually have one?)
Letting go is hard.
Letting go BY CHOICE is harder.
Letting go of something you believed was SO solid you believed it was unbreakable for all time …
THAT is the hardest.
I have given up on many relationships in my life. I have tried (and not succeeded) to give up on most of them with love. Even when that was impossible, I tried to walk away with quiet. Without drama. With acceptance. I have heard the expression “hold space for someone” and I have done that too … and guess what – it worked! I held space without judgement and my friend returned.
I have also learned that sometimes you absolutely must close the door. You can love someone and also know that you will love them better when they are not in your orbit. You can wish them love and wish that they stay away. You can remember all the love you shared and also acknowledge that there will be no future love to anticipate. Or count on. When something … anything … happens that destroys the trust you placed in that relationship and you KNOW there is nothing magical, like say – unicorns, that will reestablish that trust, you are ALLOWED to say FARE WELL.
And mean it.
Fare well. Have a great life. Go with God! Be happy!
Just not on my deck.
Several months ago I asked my ex-husband why it was so difficult for him to love me. You know, as the mother of his child, as a person who still cares deeply, as someone even his new love likes more than he does. After almost 20 years of divorce, why was it so fucking hard for him to love me?
“I just want an uncomplicated life.”
But I get it. Uncomplicated can mean many things. But I think that in this application what it really means is this: You broke my trust and hurt me in a way I cannot to this day fathom. I will never trust you again and it is therefore impossible for me to love you in an “expressed” form. I must let YOU go so that I can put the pain you caused behind me and go forward with hope and conviction … and faith that I am deserving of something far stronger and much more unbreakable than what you gave me.
He has let go.
I am now doing the same thing. Not with him (tethered for all time I am to him, and happily so) and not with my (romantic) beloved (we are still trying) but with someone who has been an insanely (and I use that word on purpose) close friend since … forever.
I am letting her go. I am letting her go for all time (no holding space here), understanding that the hurt she has inflicted on me and her lack of reflection or accountability on that hurt is, in a word, unfixable. I will never trust again.
I can (and will) forgive. I will wish no harm. I will pray for peace and harmony and I will love until eternity.
But I will let go.
I will close the door and lock it and toss the key to the winds. Lovingly. With gratitude for all the years of love we shared. With hope that her life will move forward in love. With acceptance that what we were will never again … be.
In some ways, I swear, this is worse than a death. Because THIS is a CHOICE. A choice I have made (and will continue to make) with tears streaming down my snotty face, over and over and over again. A choice to save my own sanity. To save my own soul and my own ability to love. A choice to move forward with hope and conviction … and faith that I am deserving of something far stronger and much more unbreakable than what she gave me.
I am at peace. Letting go is really hard.
Do it anyway.