Snakes and Ladders (on letting go)

“Some people think it’s holding on that makes one strong—sometimes it’s letting go.” -Unknown

Nobody said it would be easy. Doing this by myself. I was hoping to see the world this time with another person by my side, sharing in the joy and expansion. But here I go again on my own. Seeking a different kind of happily ever after.

I took a leap. A giant one. One away from the norms and conformity of ordinary life. I’m a much better version of myself away from the cookie-cutter world, as suspected. The excitement, the exploration, the exposure, the rawness, the tragedy, the joy I experience more completely and fully. I belong. But still, there’s a void. He isn’t here.

(I’m putting my grief on display. I’ve been dancing around it for weeks and but I need to attack it, head on.)

Every step I take – I take it for two. Every vision I see – I see it for two. Every person I meet – I meet them for two. I am here as one but my heart is with two. It’s hard to escape from the daily reminders of how this life unfolded in my mind – us, together, here. In this dream.

The story is quite unconventional. Boy sees girl. Boy leaves town for a while. Boy and girl reunite. Girl leaves town for a while. Boy and girl reunite. Boy and girl fall in love. It’s good. No, it’s more than good. It’s everything I wanted. Minus one very important detail – boy doesn’t know.

Yet, I know. I know for sure. Nothing else ever made so much sense. Our lives kept intersecting. Not by choice, but by forces greater than us. We had so much to live for and do.

WHY? WHY? WHY DOESN’T HE KNOW? I want to shake and scream and yell at the heavens for this confusing outcome.

When I’m not screaming I’m missing. Missing the little things that have somehow become big.

With tears streaming, I know what I have to do: let go.

I have cheerleaders pumping their fists on the sidelines, telling me I’ll be okay. Telling me I’m strong. Telling me to take care of myself. This is helpful but just when I take two steps forward, I take four back in the game of letting go.  Like up a ladder and then down a poisonous snake. This back and forth is exhausting.

I dig deep: let go. But HOW? Seriously, how?

There are various strategies. Like a disease that won’t leave my organs willingly, surgery could remove him. I loved until it killed me. Cut it out, take my heart. Bury it underground. Stomp out the flame. This ache has to end. Rebuild at 33. (If only there was a reset button.)

I could pretend he doesn’t exist. Remove all evidence of a relationship ever occurring. Wipe the slate clean. Erase the pictures on my camera. Denial.

I could throw myself into hobbies and work. Become fitter, buffer, smarter, a machine. No time for feeling. “What? I’m totally fine,” I say convincingly to the mirror.

I could draw lines. Where does it feel safe? Where am I loved best? Where can I heal? In a cocoon of sheets and Kleenex and pillows and Rumi quotes and Sarah McLachlan songs. I desperately need a place that is free from rejection, comparison, questions and judgment.

I could send him off. Off with love and light and more love. I want him to grow. I want him to flourish. I want him to think about me with grace and admiration.

Mindfully letting go is hard to accomplish because you can’t see it transpiring. It’s a wound up string that will take months and months to untangle. I want to do it. I HAVE to do it. It doesn’t mean I don’t love. It doesn’t mean I don’t care.

My head knows that heartbreak creates space for awakening and opening. The initial physical sensation is an implosion of sorrow and suffocation. The emotional sensation, when allowed to speak, is an explosion of love. In time, this explosion will surround me in struggle and guide me in process. This is me loving myself.

I listen to a song everyday called Maybe. It calms me down. The clever lyrics are about how hard it is to let go but that it’s the only way to really know, the true test, if someone is meant for you. They will come back if they are. This is the only truth I can rest on.

I don’t wanna be the first to let it go, but I know, I know, I know.

If you have the last hands that I want to hold, then I know I’ve got to let them go…


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