By holding on, we convince ourselves that we can delay the suffering that everyone will feel if, or when, we let go.
This is one of the hard ones for me. I have never really been very good at letting go, nor am I so great at coping with being let go.
I hold on. Even when I know something isn’t sustainable. Even when my heart and mind knows better. This can be detrimental. Not just for me, but to all of the other people connected to or invested in that relationship. Whether intended or not, people can be hurt by the deception that comes from holding on when really, it is time to let go. Children, for instance, are often quite aware that their parents are unhappy together and anytime your partner is being kept in the dark, pain is always just around the corner. By holding on, we convince ourselves that we can delay the suffering that everyone will feel if—or when—we let go.
I have been a lover as long as I can remember and I have had a history of visiting very dark, solitary places when I have been let go. Ever since my first heartbreak in the 7th grade, I have been one who wallows in the sorrow for a bit then, eventually, comes out of it okay. The problem is that for the people around me—the ones who love me—my dark space is a scary one.
Barring any real danger of self-harm or harming others, I actually recommend letting in all of the feelings. Be in them. Stew in it fully. The best way to get to the other side of something is through it. I try not to be public about my stewing phase, ‘cause it freaks people out. There are a few folks that know my signals and they show up right when I need them. It always helps to have people nearby who love and care for you.
Now, letting go after being let go is a whole ‘nother level to this subject. There are some relationships that are easy to let go. Others? Not so much. Each one will be different. Sometimes it will require you to let go completely and no longer have that person in your life. If their presence doesn’t serve you in any way, you have to ask yourself: “Why are they still around?”
Then, there are the relationships that are so formative and intertwined into your being that there’s no way to truly let go of them. In those situations, you can only let go of your expectations. Releasing those expectations can allow those relationships to transition into other things like platonic friendships, healthy co-parenting, support systems that are equally beneficial and a whole list of other manifestations, I’m sure. But usually, this shift only occurs when given time.
I could tell you to suck it up! Get through it. There’s light on the other side or some tough love shit we’ve all heard before. But what good would that do? All I can tell you is sometimes, it’s clear when you need to let go and others times, you couldn’t see it if it was laying on your eyeballs. Sometimes, you’ve got to be okay with being let go. Try to be as self-aware as possible as you venture through, in, and out of love. Be aware of your partner and their needs. Be honest with them and yourself. Really think about just how sustainable any situation is for you and for them. Ask yourself the hard questions and listen to the answers, no matter how much they may put you in a place you don’t want to be. Remember: We don’t always want what we need or need what we want.
No one wants to be the one who gets told to “kick rocks,” so we almost always fight that. Let it just be said: Sometimes, we need to kick rocks for our own mental health as much as for the person who needs us to be gone (and vice-versa and such). Trust me, I have been there and that shit stings. But you survive. Some people will say you’re stronger for it. I won’t go that far, but I will just say that you will survive to love another day.
So far, all of this writing has been from my perspective. I’m sure most of it will continue to be. Right now, all I can do is speak with my voice and hope that there are others out there who need to hear it.I’m sure there’s more on this I could talk about but my mind is drawing a blank. I am going to post this at this point and simply say to you:
Love them as they are, have amazing sex and communicate with intention.
Originally appeared at Love, Sex and Communication. Reprinted with permission.
Photo credit: David Anthony Geary