Sometimes letting go is not neat or linear.
Sometimes it’s profoundly human and tender and tangled and messy. Sometimes it’s like this.
Sometimes we don’t even know if we can let go. And that’s okay. It’s perfect. For when we hold ourselves so softly, feeling the twists and turns that feel messy and uncertain—perhaps that’s exactly when we find our courage.
Perhaps that’s when we find ourselves anew.
I take shaky, tentative steps. Without the familiar comfort of your hand in mine, I don’t know where I’m going.
I’m still not sure how to be without you. I’m still not certain how I can let you go.
But I have to.
Life is so mysterious. All these things bloom before my eyes that don’t make much sense, like the stringing list of “whys” or “hows” of what exactly went wrong between us. And the lingering question that drills holes in my heart, like:
Was it my fault?
And perhaps, the mystery opens up even wider now that you’re gone. It’s darker in ways, lighter in ways. And it sure as hell is different to traverse this path alone. To come home to silence, the purple petunias I bought, and the soft mews of the cats.
You are not here.
The reality hasn’t quite sunk in yet. But emptiness thuds with its own ghost-like apparition that moves me to sadness, to goosebumps, to daydream-like visions of when you were here.
I still half-expect to hear the gravel “crunch-crunch-crunch” of your car pulling into the driveway, as your footsteps slowly get louder, drawing closer to the front door—which I’d fling open to greet you, with a hug, with a kiss, burying my face in your chest and inhaling, smelling the sweat and cedar and dirt from your day outside.
I miss that. Your scent was so comforting, like the way the earth smells after it rains.
I miss cooking for us.
I miss eating dinner together.
I miss falling asleep next to you; you’d hold me so tight, our limbs intertwined. I always needed less blankets for your skin would grow so hot, like a fire keeping me warm.
I miss waking up to the sun streaming into the windows—and your face against mine, your body embracing the entirety of my body.
I miss kissing you hard before you’d leave for work in the morning, as we’d drink blueberry banana smoothies and talk about absolutely everything. Those talks inspired me.
I miss the adventures we took, deep into the mountains, deep into the poetry of our souls—and all the adventures we didn’t get to take.
I really miss that.
I miss so many things; they sprawl out in front of me now like a giant web, obscuring my vision, and it’s hard to see anything else except the missing of you.
I still don’t know if I can let you go.
But there are things I don’t miss.
I don’t miss the fights; the way you’d leave. The bitter arguments that cycled around like venomous snakes.
I don’t miss the chaos, the up-and-down roller coaster. My god, it was so painfully exhausting.
I don’t miss the terrible things you’d call me, as I’d get so angry, as the tears would sting both of our eyes.
I don’t miss how I never felt heard; how you never felt heard either.
We tried to fix and patch up this love, to mend the holes and cracks. We were patient at first—but our efforts have grown tired and bleak—for our love just kept leaking, the holes getting bigger, the cracks becoming wider like a flat tire that didn’t want to be fixed.
We tried to drive around like that, to pretend everything was fine—in top working order—but it’s just not possible, is it, darling?
I don’t think either one of us knows how to fix it at this point.
So you are there. Away. In your new home.
And I am here, in our old home. The one we used to share. The one we filled with plants, the one we were so excited about. The one that felt like, in many ways, a dream come true. A start to our future. Our shared life.
It’s so hard to see the whole of what this was.
There were tough moments between us, unbelievably bitter moments, and then beautiful, utterly awe-inspiring moments.
I stumble awkwardly now to hold space for it all, the whole picture of what this love was, and how much it meant to me.
I don’t hate you, and I can’t pretend I don’t care. I let you in in ways I never let anyone in, and I know you did the same.
How can I not honor the sweet sacredness of that?
How can I also not honor how terribly painful and difficult it all was?
I stand alone now—as the tears wash down my cheeks.
The sun streams so gently on this damp morning—it is a welcome warmth that grazes my cheeks and illuminates these pages with flecks of gold.
I know not what the future holds.
And I still don’t know if I can let you go.
I cling on. To every memory we shared together. To all the hopes I had for what this love could become, the growing vision of what our future could look like, all the joy and family and technicolor beauty.
But fantasizing is exhausting. Clinging is exhausting—and my hands beg for rest.
Even if we’re over, our love is not dead.
I still love you, of course. But I really need to love myself right now.
This makes the tears rain harder.
For as loathe as I am to admit it, I know that we are both happier alone right now. Traversing the paths of our own souls, getting stronger, becoming more like who we really are. Molding our lives into what we always wanted them to be. And together just isn’t part of that now. Maybe that will change. Maybe it won’t.
I have to accept it either way.
And it’s hard.
And it’s good.
And hell yeah, I miss you.
And I have these tortured thoughts, wondering if you’ve already met someone else, if you’ll like her more than you ever liked me.
But I can’t let the frantic fumes of those worries poison me.
So I breathe. I breathe. I breathe. I breathe.
I embrace the gentle wing-beats of this alone.
I stand alone.
I walk alone.
And it’s so hard.
And it’s so good. Satisfying. Deeply fulfilling in this way that nothing ever has been, for I trust.
It was just a whisper at first, but it grows, it buds into something more more palpable. I can taste the tenderness of the leaves and shoots in my mouth.
My self. My intuition. The hot, fiery stirrings of my own soul. I trust my heart.
If we come back together, then that’s fantastic. And if we don’t, that is also fantastic.
I am on my own path now—that’s the most important thing—it becomes clearer, more vivd, more lively, and that is perhaps where the trust comes from. From the spirited part of me that often knows more than I do, than my restless mind does.
I am held.
I am held as I face these gorgeous, challenging, uncharted days ahead.
I am held in the confusion, in the tears, and the muddy regrets.
I am held in all the ways I still love you, the ways I still feel pulled to you like a magnet.
I am held as I scream to the river, my knees resting on the sandy bank. “Bring him back to me! But only if it’s good. But only if it can be truly healthy.”
I am held, as I forge boldly ahead.
I am held, as I break free, shedding old addictive patterns that once defined me. As I stand taller, settling more deeply into who I am.
I am held, as I unfold into my soul, into shockwaves of light and color and motion that move through my entire body.
I am held.
And knowing this softens even the harshest edges of the pain of losing you.
Because it is our ending; yes it is.
But it is also my beginning.
Of what, I’m not exactly sure, but my heart drips with fresh excitement to find out.
Author: Sarah Harvey
Photo: Kristopher Roller/Unsplash
Editor: Danielle Beutell