Thursday, September 22, 2011

Unpacking: Letting Go

To 18yo Me

"11. You cannot change anyone. That is their call and their call alone. If you cannot accept them for who they are right now, accept that and let them go."

It feels like it goes against conventional wisdom. It flies in the face of what we're so often exhorted to do. Forgive anything of anyone. Support no matter what. Turn the other cheek. Never give up because what if...  what if it's your support that ends up being that which they need? What if it's your steadfastness that gives them the strength to become what they needed to become?  What if, what if, what if? What if you held on just one more time, buried the past just one more time, mended the pain just one more time, gave up your self-respect just one more time?

But, what if you didn't? What if, this time, you had the strength to let go? Not crush them, just let go. It isn't the conventional wisdom of holding on at all costs. But, I've come to understand that there is a wisdom to letting go, too. Sometimes it's more humane than clinging to something that will never heal.

Sometimes it's that you've inflicted far too much pain on each other to ever find your way back to healing and love. Sometimes truth comes out, and you just don't like who lives underneath the mask. Sometimes you both change, neither one in bad ways, but in ways that are simply different... and you lose the commonality that held you together before.

Letting go feels like quitting, like losing. We don't like to quit and we don't like to lose. Letting go feels weak, but I think we're wrong in that. I don't like to let go, but on the occasions, and there have been a few, where I have made the choice to do so, it has taken far more strength and courage than hanging on would ever have demanded.

But still, we have the compulsion to fight, to stay. I don't think that's a bad thing at all. But sometimes, it does more harm than it does good.

I have a hard time judging which is right when I'm in the midst of it. I get too close to the problem at hand, and my ability to see with wise eyes diminishes. It's here that I find wise counsel to be invaluable. People who are far enough back to see the big picture, but who love me enough to be honest-- even if it's honesty I don't really want to hear. I've come to appreciate and trust the wisdom of those in my life, learned to listen to it.

"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood." Sometimes you just take different roads. You can push and pull and scream to get them to go down yours with you. But every once in a while, you find it's wiser for you both to just say Goodbye and Good Luck, and to explore the road on your own.

Sometimes life and love and friendship don't work out. Sometimes you let go so you can be whole without regret. And there is wisdom in that.


  1. *sigh*...would be easter 30 yrs ago!

  2. You know I struggle with this sometimes, but I think I am getting better. I see the wisdom of which you speak, but I think my struggle lies in the idea that I have to make sure I do enough.

  3. I don't like it either...

    Oh, I definitely struggle with that too, Stacey. Those "what ifs" are loud, and not always wrong. For me, that's when the wisdom of others I've grown to trust becomes important. It's one thing if YOU're starting to question whether letting go could be a right answer... but if Cap'n says it? You'd be more likely to listen, wouldn't you? I don't think one option is right ALL the time... but sometimes.


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