If you touch something that is hot and burns, it is easy to jump back and let go—unless it is an emotional burn.
The thing about emotions is they have no timeline. In fact, as much as the ego attempts to get them on board with deadlines, appointments and finality, emotions just don’t get it. Emotions are what connect us to infinity. They are the source of spiritual awakening and intellectual undoing.
I know this because I’ve been batted around by the two for the past six months (my whole life, really).
My boyfriend and I broke up a few months back; my mind knows this to be true but my emotions still think we are dating. My heart still sings if I see a text message from him illuminate my phone. I found myself reaching for his body next to mine as I traversed that liminal space between slumber and waking. I’m not the first woman or the last woman to wonder out loud to herself, “How do I let go of this mess and hold onto the hope I will get what I really want?”
Conventional wisdom would have everyone believe that the answer to this question and to avoiding disaster is to love yourself first. This type of wisdom expounds further with such clever catch phrases as move on, let go, there is something better for you, and my personal favorite: you learned from it.
These are as much helpful as they are antidotal.
Much like love, learning from things never ends. Even if you want it to end there is some sort of mechanism built in to patterns that dictates one must absolutely learn their lessons.
This is what I know about that: I am a professional at the “cut and run” technique. When the going gets tough, I never stay pass my threshold. When I was young I had a massive threshold for bullshit. I would put up with abusive boyfriends, diminish my needs and minimize my glory in order to fit in. The only thing that has shifted with age is that my lack of tolerance for bullshit has been matched by my lack of tolerance for change; some would say this is a good thing—I just think I have emotional osteoporosis. I err on the side of rigidity versus fluidity.
I just want to fit in as long as I can ascribe to my unique rebel code. Like most Americans, I want to be a comfortable non-conformist.
I’m still holding tightly to my artistic integrity; therefore, fitting in in high school was a cake walk compared to fitting in in the real world where there is a premium put on growing up and settling down—conforming. I know we’ve traded Keeping Up with the Jones with Keeping Up with the Kardashians. The point is it is near impossible to keep up.
(Okay, it is totally impossible to keep up. You know why? Because only you can live your life. )
The answer to simultaneously letting go and holding on is to not compare yourself to others. Remember that all advice is derived from life experience. No one has your life experience but you. In my case, it takes me years to get over a relationship I invested in because I always seem to invest all I have…after we have broken up.
Isn’t it funny how that happens? I put so many safe guards in place while dating that I forget to be friends with the person I fell in love with. Further, I am busy making sure they make me feel safe by living up to standards that were created long before we ever coupled up.
Basically, I fuck myself.
And when the relationship ends because the other person is busy doing their own work and not doing my work for me, it wakes me up.
The simple way to put it is that I am used to learning through separation and not togetherness; the irony is not lost on me. I am guarding against the things I want the most. (It is okay if you are laughing right now because you recognize you do this too.)
I could catch a lot of flak for being so forthright because as I’ve been told many times over, “You are a counselor and should know better.”
I’m not sure which way to look at it: a) I have the added benefit of being a counselor that is human or b) I have the added benefit of being a human that is a counselor. It is enough to say that counselors are not impervious to being wounded.
In fact, the benefit of being a counselor is having the awareness of my own wounds and the skills to heal them. But, my wounds don’t heal faster because I am a counselor. I don’t avoid pitfalls and setbacks because I am a counselor—I fuck up like the rest of us.
It is not despite my faults that I am a good counselor; it is because of my faults that I am an excellent one.
In other words, I struggle like everyone else—but nine times out of 10, my struggles render viable answers that not only benefit me, they benefit others as well. And I am willing to be vulnerable—I don’t always pull off being vulnerable, but I am willing. This is a developed trait that has been supported by my trade.
I am only talking about being a counselor because more often I get identified as such rather than as a human. Most humans are identified by their doing rather than their being. There is, of course, a lesson here too: Not only can we hold on and let go at the same time by not comparing ourselves to others we can also choose to not be held hostage by other people’s comparisons.
If you are going through a break up or painful transition, you must trust that no one else will do it the way you do.
Certainly, there are many and will be may break ups and transitions in one’s life, which then adds to the collective break-up/difficult transition energy in the world.
Therefore, in the same way we can let go and hold on simultaneously, so can we not be alone in our suffering and have a totally unique experience.
Most of us forget to put down the rod iron of duality and remember infinity. It is easy to fall into the mindset of being here or there—by easy, I don’t mean peaceful of simple. I mean that duality is entrained in our bodies. We are finite bodies that feel the effects of time passing and we are infinite souls that cannot be created nor destroyed.
So, if you are busy trying to let go of someone or something, know that you cannot not want what you want. If you do let go of an energy that was and no longer is, just remember it is and always will be ever changing energy.
Letting go can be painful; holding on can be painful. So, they are both painful. Letting go can be freeing. Holding on can be freeing. So, they are both freeing. Pain can be freeing and freedom can cause pain. Things that are easy for you now were once difficult. The real trick is to remember everything your soul already knows. It is guiding you to the lessons that will help you remember.
I hate the lesson of breaking up—but, then again I really enjoyed my last boyfriend which would have never happened had I not broken up with the one before him.
The truth is everyone is doing the best they can and it is hard to know what that is without looking around at what others are doing.
And the best you can do is to do your personal best by holding on and letting go.
The Constant Practice of Letting Go.
Holding on Tightly & Letting Go Lightly.
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Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photos: elephant archives
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