August 8, 2016

A Counterintuitive Approach to Love.

João Silas/Unsplash https://unsplash.com/search/couple?photo=KafhppVrfyY

There are those we meet who are not for us and who were never really ours, and yet we feel a wistfulness about them, a sadness that one day our connection will likely be severed as we both inevitably move toward someone or something else.

I wonder sometimes if this is what wisdom feels like—this knowing unequivocally that someone is not for us no matter how much we may like them or wish they could be the one. I also wonder if it’s our empathic nature that leaves us somehow haunted at the end of it all, weighed down by the lost connection.

When we begin to live deeply authentic lives, it becomes impossible to ignore our intuition. We simply know when the energy of another is not consistent with our own. We can recognize quickly when our dreams are incompatible. Of course, we can always see the red flags in hindsight, and we often wonder how we could have missed so many of them in the moment.

But still…there’s a particular difficulty in letting go of someone who is almost exactly what we’re looking for.

As I’ve been dating in the year since my divorce, there have been people I’ve met who I’ve quickly determined were not a good match for me. But there may have been a few along the way who seemed to have potential. In that stage of early interest and attraction, it can be easy to let some of the red flags slide when we’re caught up just enjoying the connection with another human being.

It can also be difficult to let go after having had a long period of time alone—whether it was being single or in a lonely marriage or having one failed potential relationship after another. Regardless of why we’ve been alone, we might be tempted to proceed, despite our intuition telling us that this person isn’t who we need. Yet, we come to a point where we just don’t want to settle. We don’t want relationships that are less than what we might have with the right person. And we don’t want to get in the way of someone else finding who they need simply to satisfy our own need for companionship.

So we learn to let go.

We take a deep breath, and we loosen our grip on the ones who aren’t for us. We let them walk away, or we walk away instead. We leave in love and kindness because we know that our path continues, and we know that their path leads elsewhere as well. And, yes, it often hurts. But we’re not leading ordinary lives here. We want the extraordinary, and the extraordinary cannot be ours when we keep choosing to stay where and with whom we don’t belong.

We begin to manifest our dreams when we put the work into ourselves and when we honor our intuition by keeping to our path.

This may mean breathing through the loneliness that will at times steal our breath and sit heavily on our chests.

This means that we endure the pain of separation from those lovely people who are simply not ours to keep.

This means that we dig deep inside of ourselves to make sure that we are the kind of people we need to be, and we don’t do this to make ourselves the perfect mate for someone else. We do it for ourselves alone. Because despite who may stand by our side during this life, we will always be on this path with ourselves, and we need to be clear on who we are. We need to become the healthiest, happiest versions of ourselves, because it’s important that we be that person in this world. The kindest version. The most balanced. The one relentlessly seeking out joy and beauty and love in the everyday.

It’s been my struggle to lean into the letting go. It’s counter-intuitive for me, and I can feel my soul struggle against it. I want to hold on to everyone and everything, keep it all so close to my heart. And that’s simply not the way that life works. It becomes our work to let go, even when it feels like holding on is all we know how to do. On the other side of the pain and discomfort is the peace that we need. We just have to remind ourselves that we cannot keep what is not ours, and that we have to learn to walk away when we know that this is the case, rather than dragging out the inevitable.

I had a moment a few weeks back when I felt haunted by a lost connection. It hurt, and it didn’t sit easily with me because I’m the type to try to make things work out. But in the end, I know that walking away was the right thing for us both. I cleared the path so that he could find the heart he needs. And I continued forward on my path, a path that is and will be filled with extraordinary beauty, if I just keep myself from the desire to arrive at a destination and remember that the journey is all that matters.

I leaned into the letting go. First, with my eyes shut tightly, the fear welling up inside. And then I just released the grip on what might have been, knowing that it never would have been anything other than what it was—a lovely connection that was always going to be fleeting.

And that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with that.

When we’re looking for a relationship, we’re going to connect with people along the way who aren’t meant to stay in our lives, and if we live mindfully, we can be 100 percent present during those relationships, and then let them go when they end. We can learn to be grateful for all of the people we meet along the way who help shape our lives and clarify what it is that we do (and don’t) want out of future relationships. We can allow those brief connections to make us better, and we’re allowed to be a little sad when it’s over.

This part of maturity isn’t easy. Sometimes it would be so much easier to suspend reality and enjoy the fantasy just a little longer. But that’s not what we need. And when we realize that, it’s so much kinder to allow the other person go to find who they need. We lean in, and we learn to trust in that quiet voice inside that whispers, “Not this, not now.” We believe our hearts when they are unsettled, and we allow ourselves to move forward, always grateful for those connections but ready for what’s next. Our lives are only made richer by those connections, and our hearts are stronger when we honor our truth.

So lean in. Feel the connection, tenuous as it is. Send out a prayer or a word of gratitude to the universe. Let go.


Author: Crystal Jackson

Image: João Silas/Unsplash

Editor: Emily Bartran

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