“Surrender to what is. Let go of what was. Have faith in what will be.” – Sonia Ricotti
I parted ways with a friend this year. She wasn’t a casual acquaintance. She was a close friend for my entire adult life up until this point.
This is the first time I’ve ever dealt with a real friendship breakup. I won’t get into details other than to say that she wanted me to behave in a way that I felt would compromise myself.
Letting go doesn’t come naturally to me.
Once I’ve cared for you, whether you’re a person or a material possession, I get very attached.
I’m literally the crazy lady that has saved my son’s baby pajamas that are so worn that there are holes in the knees from his crawling days, long passed.
I have vivid memories of my son at that age, crawling full speed while looking at the floor, not even aware of what he might run into. My husband called it the “aerodynamic” crawl.
I can go back to memories envisioning him in the pajamas any time I want, so why hold on to the tattered material like a hoarder-in-training? Something about letting them go feels like I am letting go of a piece of his babyhood, and I guess part of me hasn’t come to terms with the fact that he is no longer a baby.
It’s already painful enough to clean out both kids’ closets as they continuously outgrow their clothes. Every outfit I pack away is a tangible reminder that I will never have a 4-year-old boy or 1-year-old girl ever again.
I remember the first time I learned about letting go. My heart was broken by my first real boyfriend at age 13, and I was truly devastated at the time.
My mom showed me a passage in a book that likened a relationship to two hands, with one partner that wants to leave in a fist, and one partner that doesn’t want the relationship to end as the hand that’s wrapped around the fist.
The passage explained that the tighter the hand gets around the fist as it tries to hold on to the relationship, the more the fist tightens and closes off to continuing the relationship. The more the hand around the fist loosens its grip, the more open the fist becomes and possibly more receptive to continuing the relationship.
Letting go is especially tough in relationships when you are the hand around the fist.
It’s so tough to let people go because you not only have to let go of the idea of any future memories you could make together, but it’s hard to not let past memories of the good times cause you pain. Only time can heal that wound, and sometimes the residual scars last a lifetime.
Even though it’s painful to let go, sometimes it hurts even more to hold on to something that is no longer serving a purpose in your life. There’s a sense of relief when you surrender to what is.
Letting go requires acceptance of a new normal and it requires acceptance of change, and we all know that even change for the better is uncomfortable.
I’ve found, in my life, that it circles back to faith.
Faith that time will heal our wounds, faith that surrendering brings peace in its own right, and faith that the future holds a reality that makes sense beyond the pain we are feeling in the present.
I went through a brutal breakup in college, and the only thing that got me through it is believing that the pain had a purpose beyond what I could see into the future. I met my future husband five months after the breakup.
I thought I’d learned the lesson that my mom taught me at age 13, but true to form, in the friendship that has come to an end, I’ve been the hand white-knuckling it around the other hand. I’ve continued to try to make it be what it once was, but I’ve come to the realization that it’s time to let it go.
Sometimes holding on to your self requires letting others go.
It makes me sad, and I still sincerely love my friend. That’s all okay. I can still love her and let her go. To quote the wise Dr. Maya Angelou, “Love liberates. It doesn’t just hold – that’s ego. Love liberates. It doesn’t bind.”
Relationships end, but the love behind them doesn’t have to.
I’m also counting on my faith that time will make everything make sense, and I’ll remain hopeful that the future includes a reconciliation.
As for those pajamas, you’ll have to pry them out of my cold, dead hands.