My first Elephant Journal article was published a year ago.
It was quickly followed by another and another. At the time, I was struggling with a heartbreak that I didn’t speak of publicly, and each piece of published writing buoyed me. It helped me believe that everything would be okay. The relationship hadn’t worked out, but my dream of being a writer was coming true.
I slowly began to breathe again, filling up my lungs with renewed hope.
I am a person who struggles with letting go. I find it deeply counterintuitive. I moved many times when I was young, and each time it brought about the loss of the concept of home, friends and lives I’d loved. My natural desire to hold onto ideas, things and people became a way of warding off loss.
I thought I could shield myself from loss if I held on fiercely to everything. Because I was a passionate friend, I was unwilling to sever bonds of friendship or to acknowledge when they were over. I wrote letters when I moved, sending out lifelines to everyone I ever loved. Each letter was my way of trying to hold on and not allow the distance to steal the people I loved.
I spent years holding onto everything, refusing to ever let go.
Eventually, I lost a lot. I lost the career I had worked so long and hard for when I finally acknowledged that it wasn’t what I wanted. I lost my financial security and my home when I was in over my head in debt. I lost my marriage when I finally realized that no matter how hard I tried, I could not save it alone. I lost so much, with each loss coming on the heels of the last. It broke me, over and over again.
But, as it turns out, I had to be broken down, so I could begin to build the life I needed. By holding on so fiercely, I couldn’t embrace change, much less choose it. By facing loss and surviving it so many times, I began to see the possibilities in my life, and I slowly learned to let go.
I made peace with friends who left my life long ago, letting them go in my head and no longer grieving their loss. I began to embrace a new way of living, choosing to hold onto only those who were holding onto me. Loss is still far from painless, but each time it’s a little easier and I am certainly rewarded for my courage.
I’ve learned to release my grip on people, ideas and jobs that no longer serve me. If someone or something doesn’t want to be kept, I choose to let go. I am the supernova in my own life, and I choose not to hold on tightly to anyone or anything that cannot stay with me on this journey. Instead, I choose to welcome peace and transformation.
When someone wants to leave us, we can stop trying to hold them somewhere they don’t want to be. We don’t do this for them, although it is noble if we can manage it. We do this for ourselves. We let go because it’s necessary for us to move on—to stop carrying all this baggage from place to place, refusing to accept endings.
We can say: “If you don’t want to be here with me, please go.” We can stop trying to make people stay because we’re afraid of loss. We can acknowledge that not everyone who comes into our lives is meant to populate them forever.
And we can do this to change our ideas. Many times, people only believe the things that already suit their opinions. If we agree with it, it must be true. If we disagree, it’s fake news. We can let go of the firm hold on our own ideas. We can keep ourselves open to seeing the truth, even when it makes us uncomfortable or flies in the face of what we’ve always believed. We can let go of what other people will think if we change. We can stop holding on tightly to the ideas that no longer serve us.
Instead, we can let go of the firm hold on our own ideas. We can keep ourselves open to seeing the truth, even when it makes us uncomfortable or flies in the face of what we’ve always believed. We can let go of the fear of what other people will think if we change. We can stop holding on tightly to the ideas that no longer serve us.
So often we allow things and people to outlive their purpose in our lives.
Perhaps we’re just sentimental, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But when holding on hurts us and stops our growth, it’s time to release our grip. It’s time to learn to accept change, to embrace it as a part of the journey. We can let things come as they do, but it won’t always be easy.
Sometimes it just hurts, and all we can do is sit and feel the loss. And it’s okay. It’s okay to grieve and to feel the loss. When we let go, we learn to embrace all the people who remain. We celebrate the relationships with those who have never left us.
We can choose to embrace the loss and transformation in our lives, and be endlessly grateful for it all.
Author: Crystal Jackson
Image: Hillary Boles/Flickr
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock