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*Warning: salty language ahead.
I was laying on a mat in the middle of a retreat amongst the jungles of Costa Rica, silently weeping.
This beautiful woman named Marly was singing a song that till this day when I hear it makes me cry. It was a pivotal moment for me.
This was a couple of years ago and I had recently made the difficult decision to walk away from someone I loved.
I cut him off cold turkey like an addict drops a bad habit. Boom. Bam. No looking back. I felt a little like a bitch for doing it. We were friends on top of that, so I missed the friendship in addition to missing him.
But you know what? The relationship was one-sided. It involved a lot of “come here, I want you” one day followed by, “I need to push you away because I don’t know what I want” another. As unattached as I tried to be, because he never really showed up for me except when he wanted to, I found myself repeatedly hurt and let down. It wasn’t healthy and it definitely was not what I deserved.
Once I cut him off, I found I was second-guessing myself. I’m a shitty person, I thought. Maybe I’m overreacting. Maybe I can have him in my life and not have any expectations. Maybe if I cool off and convince myself to not love him anymore I can reach out again and make this right.
But we don’t stop loving people. So we have to make decisions sometimes that go against what we think it means to love someone. And that means, maybe it’s best to not have them in our lives.
This isn’t just about romantic partners. It’s about siblings and friends and sometimes our own family. I am deeply fortunate to have the most incredible family, but I know people estranged from their own children or parents who will still tell me that they’ve never stopped loving them, even if they haven’t spoken for years.
Think of people like food. You can love them like a juicy double cheeseburger with a side of greasy fries, but if you always feel sick after eating it or double over in pain with indigestion, do you really want to keep eating it?
So many of us justify the reasons we keep unhealthy relationships in our lives. We tell ourselves that we love the person. Or we’ve invested years in the friendship and don’t feel right just cutting the person out of our lives. We explain to anyone who will listen that they’re family and it would be heartless and mean to tell a family member we don’t want to talk to them.
I’ll tell you it’s unhealthy to keep them around. I’ll tell you it’s the single biggest way of dishonoring yourself by giving your precious time and energy to someone who doesn’t make you feel good or drains you. I’ll tell you that life is too short to feel that you can’t choose who you want to spend your time with and who you’d rather say buh-bye to. It doesn’t make you a bad person to want to feel safe and loved and treated with respect and reverence.
Here’s another thing that’s so important to know…
You can miss someone and still not want them in your life. Missing someone isn’t a reason to reach out to them. Missing them is not a justification to go back.
Missing them is just your heart’s way of reminding you that they were an important piece of your history. It’s your soul’s way of acknowledging they were meant to be in your life. You can miss them all you want. But it doesn’t mean you have to physically bring them back into your field.
As I laid on that mat in Costa Rica, I told that person I let go of how much I missed him. I told him I’d always miss him. I thanked him for the part he played in my life. I apologized for the abrupt way I cut him off and asked him to one day understand I had to, and I wanted him to find “his person” and be happy. I asked the Universe to make sure he got the message even though I would never speak those words to him.
I’m certain he got it. That sounds all woo-woo but it’s not. People can hear what we don’t speak aloud, I promise you.
You can do it too. You don’t have to stop loving someone to release them from your life. You just have to love yourself enough to know when it’s time to let them go.