6.7
November 17, 2015

How to Leave When We Have to Stay.

These reads help us pick up the pieces, too:

And Then She Left.
How to Love a Woman who is Expecting you to Leave.

~

Sometimes we find ourselves in situations that cause us pain.

Whether it’s a place, a person, a job or a habit, the thing that causes pain is often the very thing that keeps us wherever and with whomever we are or doing whatever we do. We adjust to the comfort of pain as we come to embrace its predictability. It becomes our home. It brings us what we think is necessary: shelter, love, understanding and acceptance among other luxuries we crave.

And maybe the thing that causes pain truly does offer those things. Maybe it does make a decent home for us to lay our heads and rest to the sweet sounds of normal.

But that pain—it means something. It means it’s not quite home. Not the best one we could make. Not the one that’s right for us.

And upon realizing this, we know we must find the courage to leave. To uproot from the comfort with which we so closely identify. To steer away from the shelter and love and understanding and acceptance into which we’ve settled despite the lingering presence of that strange pain.

But leaving is hard. And as much as I’d like to say it’s always possible or a feasible choice, it’s not.

Sometimes we can’t leave. Sometimes we have responsibilities to fulfill, and sometimes those responsibilities can’t just dissipate as we make our escape. Be that as it may, we know we must leave. We know that if we stay, we’ll only prolong the years or months or lifetimes worth of suffering we’ve already endured.

This is when we must realize that there are many ways to leave.

Sometimes leaving looks like selling most of what we own, packing our bags and hitting the road; to where exactly, we don’t know, but we don’t really need to know. We only know that we need to leave. So we go anywhere. We pick up the pieces we’ve chosen to bring along, we scatter the ones we’ve chosen to leave behind and we do our best to start over from there. From the broken parts. From the true parts that came from the pain we could no longer deny.

Sometimes leaving looks like quitting our jobs or divorcing our spouse or ending a friendship or unraveling a habit. Whether we have an exact reason for doing so or the reason is simply that it’s not working anymore, we leave because something deep in our guts says that our wellbeing depends on it. We leave because we don’t have a reason to stay, because every moment we remain is a moment stripped of all the energy it takes for us to successfully live another day. We trust the exhaustion in our hearts and we find our way out accordingly.

But the most intricate and yet strikingly simple mode of leaving is when leaving looks more like staying, because sometimes moving on means standing still as we discern the ways we must change and adapt to the thing that causes pain.

It’s in this kind of leaving that we arrive to the only place that matters: a place where truth cannot lie dormant, a place where subtlety takes center stage, a place where the keys to survival rest quietly in the little things we’d normally overlook.

We may want to leave, but we must stay for any number of reasons. Maybe we stay simply because we can’t sell everything we own and pack our bags to hit the road to nowhere, or we can’t quit our jobs or end our relationships. Maybe those things just aren’t feasible. Maybe we wouldn’t even know how or where to begin in that process.

And maybe that means that the greatest healing change would come from leaving by staying where and with whom we are and doing what we’re doing, but being there and with those people and doing those things differently.

Maybe leaving by having to stay has more to do with recreating ourselves in the realm of the familiar, and that which no longer fits with the changes we make will naturally fall away—the place, the person, the job, the habit, the thing that causes pain—and all because we had to stay. Even when we thought we couldn’t. Even when we knew we had to leave.

This kind of leaving is the kind that saves us, the kind that shows us the way without undermining our means for making a life. It’s the chance we give ourselves to know the trials and joys of starting over without going anywhere or removing anyone or quitting anything, and soon enough we find we never had to do those things; the extraneous slowly (or suddenly) falls away as we change and adapt in the new light of our overcoming.

Only then do we realize that perhaps we never had to leave at all—that once we changed ourselves without changing where and with whom we were or what we were doing, the thing that caused pain would leave instead.

The leaving would be natural; the new beginning, joyful.

And just as we’d do to seal any journey of leaving, we’d pick up the pieces we chose to keep and scatter the ones we no longer needed. We’d start over from there, where we’d never left, though we’d certainly changed. From the healing parts. From the true parts that came from the pain we no longer needed to leave.

“I hope the leaving is joyful, and I hope never to return.” ~ Frida Kahlo

 

Relephant Read:

Should I Stay or Should I Go? How to Know when to Break Up.

 

Author: Sara Rodriguez

Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: Joe St.Pierre/Flickr

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