Letting go of someone or something isn't always easy. In fact for me it is the antithesis of who I am at my very core. I am a Cancer woman and by nature, I hold onto things and emotionally move into places that I make home. And while that loyalty, commitment and emotional comfort can be a good thing, it also means sometimes it is very difficult to move on even when I know it is time to. I can be like a hermit crab carrying a house full of old hurts on my back.
Ten years ago I fell in love. For the first time in my life I actually pursued someone and wouldn't take no for an answer. We had a few remarkable years and as things started to change and our life together began to unravel we just couldn't let it go. We couldn't let go of the dream and the hopes we had shared in the past. It took us nine years to finally sever the bond and when we did it was with a guillotine swish. It left my brain whirling across my emotional floor and unnerved me to my core. I felt lost, hopeless and in a great deal of pain and grief.
Forgiveness some say takes a lot of strength. For me, it is natural. I have always said I can forgive others' transgressions because I know some day I will need for them to forgive mine. And for the most part that is the case. That is how I have lived my life. I learned early on that we must forgive others to prevent the anger and bitterness that comes with holding on from eating us from the inside out. I learned how it can color every thing we do, every decision and definitely every relationship. But for me, letting go of the feelings that come from being hurt by someone ... that is a lesson I am still learning. I marvel at those who can so easily do it.
My dear Aunt Stella used to say I care too much about everyone else's feelings. I know what she meant. I am empathetic. I understand. I get it. I recognize the why we got where we ended up. I understand the deeper issues behind the how we got here and I have insight enough to realize my part in the relationship's failure. I forgave us both and moved on toward my healing. I took the time to delve into my codependency issues, took a look at the mistakes I made and came up with solutions to be a better stronger me. I did my work. And still, I hurt. While I understand that breaking up was not only necessary, but ultimately good for us both, the how just never sat right with me. The sense of betrayal, the letdown, the callousness of it all just plain old hurt. That sense of being wronged or tossed aside just plain old hurt. And it is confusing as to why emotionally I couldn't just let it and sometimes her go.
Sometimes I think it is because I watch too much TV that I am this way. It could be. It might be that as a writer my job sometimes is to create the happy endings, lure my readers into a sense of falsehood that nice guys don't always finish last, that they often get the girl and that the nasty n'er-do-well neanderthal will disappear into the shadows never to be heard from again. The lines between reality and fiction aren't always crystal clear. I'm a romantic who believes in the fairy tale ... to some extent. And well, I am not the neanderthal type so, I have to believe that in the end the nice guy will always get the girl. Otherwise, like Peggy Lee I have to ask, "Is that all there is?" And break out the booze and become an alcoholic. Seriously.
So herein lies the dilemma. How do I let go of all of the pain suffered from the guillotine's blade and move on past the hurt toward trust and love? How do I learn to intertwine my easy sense of forgiveness, the actual letting go of the anger with the letting go of the pain? How do I move on? I've prayed. I've meditated. I've read more books than I can count and sat in more silent rooms than anyone ever should. I've sought counseling and talked less, listened more. I've recognized that someone else's words or actions don't define me. And then I remembered that you can't grab hold of something new with claws tightly pinched shut. I exhaled, opened up my Cancerian crab claws, released and said enough is enough.
Crawling out of an emotional shell isn't easy. There is no quick remedy to heal old wounds. There is no quick fix. It just takes time. We triage our hurts, assess how bad they are and tend to them. We cry, yell, scream when we are wounded and apply the balm. We find the medicine that works, take it and watch the healing begin. It isn't easy, it may take some surgery to extricate the pain, rehabilitation to recover from the hurts and a good plastics man to remove the scarring, but we do get through the process. And it is a process.
Eventually we heal. We wake up one day and realize we have indeed moved on away from the hurt and the pain toward a better part of the healing. It may be a moment in time, but we will see or hear something and know. Sometimes it is as simple as watching and old friend move on with her new love when we realize that healing is possible. Sometimes it is discovering with other friends how hard it is to navigate our way in a decade-old dating world that had moved on without us in it, but we do it anyway. Sometimes it is as simple as listening to God in the trees or in our children's laughter or in ourselves and we recognize again the joy of living.
And sometimes it is in imagining ourselves at the bottom of the ocean scurrying along away from our old hollow shells in search of the new loving and beautiful home in which we will surround us. Personally, that is the journey I am on. If you look behind me, you can see the cloud of hurts I've kicked and scattered in my wake. When all of the dust finally settles, I will be long gone. You see, I am racing across new terrain right now and reaching my Cancer claws out for that new experience and embracing it. Fully.
Robin G. White "Bobbie!" is an award-winning author, playwright and publisher. She lives in Georgia. You can learn more about her at http://www.robingwhite.com/.
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