It was January, 2016.
I was sipping coffee at a free internet cafe in Istanbul, sitting across the table from a person who didn’t belong with me.
Our relationship had become nothing more than an expired verbal contract, but I had no exit strategy and continued to grip tightly.
I had been running away for a long time, unwilling to feel.
The pain from my divorce and loss of my family followed me. At times, I’d be operating from a healthy inner voice, but then triggered by the most random events.
It felt like dark shadows were visiting to remind me I did not deserve happiness.
I didn’t welcome these dark shadows as messengers sent to awaken me; instead, I fought to control and suppress their presence. Somehow, I thought a bottle of whiskey with a six-pack of beer and a new relationship would send them away for eternity.
There was no natural rhythm to how I became involved in my post-divorce relationship. I had been seeking to connect with someone on dating apps. There was a deep emptiness inside of me, and I was hunting for another human being to fill the place that was hurting.
Over the course of eight months, this relationship took a turn for the worse. We were destroying each other, but despite the obvious need to end it, I gripped more tightly.
I couldn’t stand any more pain from past loss. I wanted to hold onto everyone and everything.
Back to Istanbul.
We were leaving the cafe when a sudden explosion shifted my struggle to let go. A suicide bomb exploded around the corner from the cafe.
I hadn’t felt like I belonged to something larger than myself until that moment. The “what ifs” and “whys” circled around inside my mind. If a stranger hadn’t stopped me upon leaving the cafe for a brief chat, I would have been standing in the exact location of the explosion.
That unexpected violence made me realize it was time to become more kind and gentle in my inner world. The bombing only deepened my recognition that letting go was my only path to peace.
A week later, I was in Rwanda speaking to survivors of the 2004 genocide. I listened carefully to survivor stories and how they were able to free themselves from the grip of the past. What stood out in all these conversations was an attitude of forgiveness. The bravery of those survivors was the final shift.
I realized that letting go and forgiveness must happen simultaneously on our pathway to peace if we wish to free ourselves from the violence of self-destruction.
I had to walk away from that relationship. I had to walk away from alcohol. I had to walk toward myself and face my darkest shadows with love and light.
I felt the process begin. The voice inside said, “courage,” but I was terrified to lose control. The voice said, “You will be okay,” but I resisted and wondered if the voice would abandon me.
The voice said, “Trust the process,” and then I began to believe.
Maybe it was a calling from my higher self.
I took a deep breath. I cried. I listened to songs about letting go. I leaned into the flow of separation.
A second chance and spiritual intervention can’t be wasted; we must pay attention. In order to have a peaceful, kind world, we must become the happiest versions of ourselves. It is our path to seek all the parts of ourselves that need love.
No human but ourselves can do this work.
Letting go is a natural part of the life journey; to believe otherwise is dishonest. Once we decide to let go, there is no further action except to stay in a flow of non-resistance. This means staying with whatever uncomfortable feelings arise from the final stages of the disconnection process.
Believing in the wisdom of the universe, we stop pretending we can control everything.
Our future self is depending on us to weave mindfulness and compassion and embrace the present moment. Leaning into an attitude of gratefulness, saying a prayer and breathing creates a space for painful sensations to fade away.
I did these things on a daily basis to allow painful feelings to flow in and then flow out.
Sometimes, we have to release the story. We deserve to be with people whose company we enjoy. We deserve to be with people who bring out the best in us. We deserve to stop punishing ourselves.
We do deserve happiness, no matter what mistakes we made along our life’s journey.
You never know what is going to happen around the corner, and it is so damn hard to break free from shame. Even writing this brings me shame that it took a suicide bombing and studying genocide to let go of a toxic relationship.
It softens me to believe we all have an unique journey. Our “messengers” will come in different ways to provide important life lessons. Each is an opportunity to practice letting go until we develop a heart ready for anything. For now, I’m trying to let things happen to me unconditionally—without placing judgement or blame onto anyone else.
So, be kind to yourself. Be kind to others. Practice. No feeling is final.
In order to move past the pain, we have to be brave enough to let the painful feelings flow in, acknowledge their presence with loving kindness and then simply let them go.
Let go to experience the fullest expression of your inner voice and move into the next phase of your journey. If we all do so, we can create a more kind and peaceful human experience.
Author: Melissa Rondeau
Image: Author’s Own
Editor: Toby Israel