I have made bold and pronounced statements about letting my crush fall away, letting go, and yet I find myself grasping at straws: clinging still.
I was aware of this but in denial, and then a conversation with a friend made it blindingly, uncomfortably obvious.
It turns out that I am stubborn. Could it be that I never really let go? Was I being honest?
Two months ago, I let someone go and was eager to move on to another part of our friendship. I thought I was there, even meeting up with him and meeting his new girlfriend, but then I relapsed. I was clinging to false comfort and a fantasy that has no basis in reality; I was clinging to a person who has no interest in being anything other than my friend.
I could see my backslide.
Why do we cling to something when we know we will be so much better off when we finally let go? How did I miss that clinging is not love, but fear?
I am taking a stand and giving the backslide a big, swift kick in the butt. I want to emerge and see what is around the corner, which will only be available to me when I face my discomfort and see inside me—alone, stripped clean.
In the midst of an angst-ridden Saturday morning, I realized my problem. I had somehow expected that I could go from wistful to wonderful overnight. Change, and recovery of any type, isn’t magic. I needed to break it down, like a big project, into small steps.
Here’s what has helped me let go:
My crush (and good friend) and I were mad texters. Quippy, witty, voluminous and frequent in our messages, we agreed this had to change. We still text and talk, but much less. Now, if I must let my thumbs fly, I reach out to other friends. I send my jokes and weird observations to other far-flung friends. I still miss our exchanges, but reaching out to other friends has led to weekend plans with an old high school pal, and now I text-pun with a former co-worker who lives on the East Coast.
2. A rock.
On a recent run, when tears were spilling down my cheeks, I saw a small round rock on the side of the road. I picked up the grey disk and held its smoothness in my cold hand. Somehow I felt better. I could find all sorts of clichéd metaphors in this rock: my heart is a stone; I am stuck between a rock and a hard place; the rock represents the weight of my heart’s hurt. But it’s none of these things. I just like it, so I carry it with me, tucked in my pocket while I teach at work, tossed between my hands when I am in idle thought at my desk, clasped in my fingers during early morning runs. I touch it and take a breath and now this rock is my way to return to a deep breath. I breathe out a bit of sadness and take in a breath of possibility.
3. Dwight Yoakam.
Music is therapeutic for all types of reasons. I sing in the shower, in the car, in solitude, and I listen to lots of music. Dwight Yoakam is one of my favorites, but for some reason I hadn’t listened to him in a long time. I pulled out a bunch of his CDs, put some in my player in the car, in the player at my desk at home and burned some songs for my Mp3 player. Rediscovering tunes lifts my heart. I listen to his wistfulness, his guitar, his voice, and I forget other things.
When my mind is wandering and idle, it tends to return to the person or thing I am trying to release. Telling myself to think of something else is like trying to fall asleep at night by saying, “Now, sleep!”: futile. Instead, I reach for my shoes and go for a run. I happen to be training for my first marathon, but these runs are not part of my regular training. These runs are to move my preoccupations. I run through the neighborhood, a short two-mile route, for this heart-healing exercise. While running, I begin to focus on my breathing, the crows and sparrows, the lights in living rooms and bedrooms, the shadows of the cottonwood branches. When that doesn’t work, I count my steps. Pretty soon, my mind is filled with a stream of numbers punctuated by the sound of my steps. I return home sweaty and grateful for the release.
The small steps, the breaths, the rock, my neighborhood two-mile runs, silly texts to friends and Dwight Yoakam tunes are helping me detach.
I want to see what remains when I let go of a romance and try to find a friendship. I want to see what remains when I look inside of me, to find happiness and being that has nothing to do with anyone or anything and everything to do with me. I want to be able to face discomfort and find bravery. I want to remember that this is a constant process.
We find it difficult to change because we cling to external things instead of dealing with the internal things.
What we need to remember is growth and openness will only happen when we let go and face the holes and scars and monsters. In the clarifying light of honesty, I can be lighter. It means finding self-love and self-respect; it means looking at reality instead of fantasy; it means seeing the jagged edges and being okay with what is.
It means there will be steps forwards, steps backwards, steps sidewards. This is part of growing and being human. Welcome to the community. Welcome to peace. Welcome to a new adventure.
Author: Kary Schumpert
Editor: Caroline Beaton