April 12, 2016

Embracing Non-Attachment: Why I Chose to Let Love Go.


Non-attachment is a wonderful practice, but I have moments where I just want to hold on. When I have that feeling, I listen to Glen Hansard’s song, “When Your Mind’s Made Up” about five times until the iron is back in my resolve and the steel is back in my spine.

So, if you ever want something
And you call, call
Then I’ll come running
To fight, and I’ll be at your door
When there’s nothing worth running for
When your mind’s made up
When your mind’s made up
There’s no point trying to change it
When your mind’s made up
When your mind’s made up
There’s no point trying to stop it
You see, you’re just like everyone
When the sh*t falls all you want to do is run, away
And hide all by yourself
When you’re far from me, there’s nothing else

I listen to the song and remind myself that when someone wants to leave us, nothing we say or do will change their minds. In the end, it’s a matter of accepting that what we want isn’t always what we’re meant to have, particularly when it comes to romantic relationships. Sometimes we have to remember that whatever is meant to be is coming, and we have to be patient.

I hate patience. It’s not a quality I have in abundance. Added to that, my natural inclination is to hold on, not to let go. It’s counter-intuitive for me to walk away from what I want. I moved so many times growing up, and loss has stalked me from place to place. I have held on to old friends, old letters, old photographs, a thousand mementos whose provenance is known only to me, and now an abundance of love that was returned to me. No matter how kind the returning of such a gift, there is pain in not being able to love as fiercely as we’re capable of doing.

In the wake of a love that’s unrequited, I have finally embraced non-attachment. The statement may sound simple, but let’s be clear: I do nothing halfway. In the first flush of that love, I practically danced from room to room of my house singing, “Fly Me to the Moon.” I used words like pining and besotted, and I did not use them ironically. When I realized the necessity of letting go of this particular attachment, my knee-jerk reaction was to hold on tighter, and I had to sit with that feeling a while, grieving the loss of what could be. In the end, I had to accept that what could be would never be.

This is how I came to understand that non-attachment is essential for me to move on. I accepted his feelings as valid. At first, I tried to convince him that our essential rightness together made his decision to not be in a relationship with me right now to be essentially wrong. Then I realized that there is no changing someone’s mind when they don’t love us back. The acceptance came and sat with me a while, and I realized that I could not keep trying to convince him to do something that wasn’t right for him. When your mind’s made up, there’s no point trying to change it

I let go. I just stopped holding on. I value his friendship, and I respect his opinions. I enjoy what time I spend with him as a friend, and I look forward to future conversations to see what he’ll have to say. In this place of non attachment, I can love him without trying to hold on to him.

Part of letting go was shifting my focus. I took my focus off the possibilities inherent in a relationship with him and instead began to focus on gratitude. I took stock of my own life and counted all of the blessings that I enjoy daily, which include two beautiful children, a fierce tribe of friends, a job I enjoy, and many interests that I’m passionate about. I began focusing more on myself and my own personal goals. While I do have moments where I miss my relationship with him intensely, I’m able to let those feelings come and go. I acknowledge the feelings of loneliness, experience gratitude for that time in my life, feel the wistfulness that comes from a relationship’s end, and then I let all the feelings recede by acknowledging the truth of the situation. When your mind’s made up, There’s no point trying to stop it.

So often, we hold on to the things and people in our lives that no longer enrich us. We cling to our difficult situations as if there are no other choices before us. We give up our power to create the lives we want to live by blaming circumstances of life, twists of fate, others, anything at all to avoid taking back our own responsibility. I have found that we often have choices, even if we don’t like them. In my own situation, I had the choice to try to hold on to someone who didn’t want to be kept or I could let go and retain a friendship with someone who I like and respect in addition to loving. Choosing to let go of my attachment to him was difficult at first but seems to be right for me in this moment.

When we let go of what’s not for us, I truly believe that the things and people that are meant to be in our lives will be able to arrive. By letting go, we create space for good things to enter. I don’t know if a love that is both strong and also returned to me will come today or tomorrow or 20 years from now or in another life. We don’t even have to place our hope on a person or an event that may or may not come; instead, we can choose to live every moment as it is, taking from each moment all of the joy that it offers.

We can choose mindfulness in all of the moments we’re given and let go of trying to hold on to a future that’s uncertain. Every day we can create the lives we want to live and know that our happiness is here now, coming back to us again and again without having to try to hold on to it so tightly. So, if you ever want something, call and I’ll come running.




Author: Crystal Jackson

Editor: Travis May

Photo: Flickr/Lucy Maude Ellis

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