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It’s been three long years.
God knows how hard I’ve been trying to let go.
I’ve gotten rid of stuff that reminds me of what was taken away from me. I’ve opened my doors to new people and adventures. I’ve diverted all my love and attention to the people who have been there since day one. I’ve been laser-focused on getting reconnected with myself and loving her back to health.
There are days that feel like I no longer need to try as hard, because there’s not much to hold on to anymore. I can listen to some songs and they don’t sting as much. I don’t twitch as much anymore at the mention of her name.
But then there are other days—those god-awful other days—when I come upon a particular song . That one song. And then I get that feeling like a rug has been pulled from under me.
Only this time, it wasn’t a song. It was a Dropbox folder filled with reminders of what was taken away.
I genuinely thought I’d gotten rid of everything. It frustrated me knowing I’ve been doing this grand spring cleaning thing for this long, and yet I missed a spot. It angered me that after all this time, it still made me feel all the feels.
And I thought I have every reason to be mad and disappointed. I should’ve been over it by now. It’s been three years. I could almost hear some of my friends in my head scolding me, “Dude. It’s been three years. Enough. Give it up already.” Family chimes in with “Don’t be stupid. Get your sh*t together. Get a job.” You know how families get.
If only I could clap back at all of them and say, “What does it look like I’m doing??”
But I won’t. I don’t have to.
Because somehow this time, instead of shooing it away, I am moved to invite the feeling, as terrible as it is. To ask what it wants; why it keeps on pestering me all these years.
And what I got as an answer, was this story. This story that felt a lot like it wrote itself. And in writing it, I heard what it was trying to tell me.
The story wanted out. It wants to be let go, just as I’ve been trying so hard to let it go. Turns out, I didn’t need to be trying that hard. I just needed to let it be. To let it flow so it can have the chance to flow out of me.
It wanted out so badly, it had to put me in discomfort that many times, because I’m dense and oblivious like that. It wasn’t there to punish me or to just make my life miserable. It wasn’t there because I wasn’t doing enough of something. It wants what I want. And all I really want is to be free.
It made me realise what exactly it is I’ve been holding on to. And it’s this story. This story for which I have secretly written an alternate ending. An ending in which I would see this person again and we’d pick up right where we left off. And we’d have another shot at writing the end because this just can’t be how it ends for us.
Oh, but it can. And it will. Because, it’s time. I feel it.
And I say this, with a strange sense of peace.
I think I’m ready.
To you, who is in the thick of the pain of losing someone you never thought you’d have to live without, I’m sorry you have to go through this. I wish I could tell you it gets better soon.
But right now, I just hope you can find even the slightest bit of comfort in knowing that I am with you. And despite the pain, you are going through something profoundly beautiful.
There’s nothing wrong with the way you choose to deal with grief.
Even if all you did today was to get out of bed. Or to eat your first meal of the day at 4:30 in the afternoon. Whether you choose to go it alone, or join a community as you search for answers to questions that all of a sudden have come up to the surface. Whether you go on a full-on house arrest and take the next few days off from work, or jet off to a faraway place hoping to get away from the pain of it all. Whether it takes you a week or two, or 1,095 days (and counting). You are exactly where you’re supposed to be in your journey.
Whatever you do, it’s beautiful the way you try. You do the best you can with whatever you’re faced with. Because that’s what you are. You are human. You learn to adapt. With whatever it is. Even with losing someone so dear. You learn to live with the hole that you think they left and realise it wasn’t a hole to begin with. You find out that with or without them, you are whole. Always have been. You realise that maybe it’s more like a dent. You were holding on to them so hard, that they left a mark was inevitable. It hurts just the same, but you know you can live through it. I know you can.
I wish it didn’t have to hurt so much. But looking back, I wouldn’t have grown if it didn’t. It’s called growing pains for a reason. And the grief and the healing that comes after it all comes with the territory.
We can try all we want to cover it up and numb it down, but judging from the way grief has played out in my life, it demands to be felt. No amount of hours spent binging Netflix, or glasses of alcohol, or doses of your drug of choice, or miles covered going on escapades will keep it at bay for good. To be fair, they may help for a while, but I hate to break it to you: there’s no escaping this.
The only way out is through.
Healing is, no less, a pain in the butt. It’s by no means linear. It’s not one-and-done. It’s a practice. And you never know if you’re doing it right. It needs intent and patience. It is rewarding on good days, but awfully disheartening on bad days. But I give it a shot. Every single day. And from the looks of it, it’s not a destination, but a journey.
You can’t really tell where you are on the way, but you do get glimpses of what the process does to you. If anything, it makes you feel more connected with yourself. If you pay it enough attention, it illuminates the parts of you you wouldn’t have known were hidden if you didn’t get hurt in the first place. It’s painful and it’s enlightening. It’s a paradox that goes on and on.
And it’s also a gift: this whole story of loving, losing, letting go, and living through all of it. I’ve come to think perhaps all this had to happen not really to break me apart, but to break me open; so I can learn to live with an open heart—a heart that welcomes joy as well as pain.
Because all this is temporary—everyone and everything we hold dear will be taken away from us, one way or another, sooner or later. It’s all part of being here.
In fact, sometimes it’s all we’ve got to remind us that we are alive.