I am really terrible at letting go. Always have been. Even when I think I’ve let something go, those who know me best will infuriate me with their honesty, insisting I haven’t let it go, until something happens and boom! – it’s 2am and I’m lying awake analysing and fuming about it. (And gosh, do I ever hate having to admit that someone is right about me – stubborn as a mule!)
Here I am now, its 2.45am and I have easily spent 45mins furious at the things that have caused the disillusion of a friendship because something has occurred that’s rubbed salt in the wound and I’m worried about and angry at said friend.
The problem is that no matter how much someone hurts me, if there was some sort of shared relationship there, part of me holds onto the friendship/relationship because I still care about that person. Even years after the painful event that caused us to go our separate ways, I still hold out hope that they will understand where I’m coming from and acknowledge my feelings, with those feelings flooding back to me sometimes just with the sheer mention of their name.
That’s not to say that I am not getting any better at it; I’m learning that relationships drift in and out of our lives when they are supposed to, and that those who truly want to be a part of my life and are supposed to be, will be. As in, I know that is the way the universe works and I am learning to trust that, despite how hard it can be for me not to keep giving too much of myself to the cause and letting someone hurt me over and over again.
I am a big believer in forgiveness; probably to my detriment. I always see and believe the best in people, even after they’ve deeply hurt me because I want to believe they are better than their actions. I want to believe that part of them has the capacity to understand why I am hurt, that my own actions and feelings come from a place of caring about them and that if they could just see it from my perspective, it would all be ok.
I don’t know if this is a product of that part of me that has always desired to be friends with everyone, but when someone who I love hurts me deeply, I really take it to heart, even if I’ve always felt in my gut that the way I feel about their friendship isn’t equally reciprocated – because the worst part is that a lot of the times, I ignore my intuition that this person is not as close a friend as they claim to be, because I like getting to know them and having them in my life. Perhaps it is a product of my relationship with my Dad; a man who manipulated and abused me and to whom nothing I ever did was good enough. I would bend over backwards trying to please him, because of course I didn’t want to be abused and manipulated, and I knew that his idea of who I was was far removed from who I actually am; I still constantly struggle with the way any relationship of mine dissolves if I feel that who they think I am misrepresents me. I have given him many opportunities to be a part of my life, but he never sees things from my perspective, won’t “rehash the past” and basically won’t acknowledge who I am as a person or that my feelings matter. Still, after nearly 7 years of not speaking to him, I’ve given him the benefit of the doubt, the opportunity to be in my life and was honest about my feelings, only to have it all thrown back in my face. But if he was to have some miracle change-of-heart at some point and see me as the woman I am, there is always a chance in my heart for forgiveness.
But how do you let go? I’m not even sure that I know what it would feel like to let go of that sort of pain. It’s not as if I dwell on the pain; in fact, in time I move on and rarely think about it, but the trouble is that when something does remind me of it, I am reminded of that pain and that that person is no longer a part of my life, and it hurts me – “I feel that shit in my soul”.
I know the concept of letting go – the why and the what and the who – but the how I go about doing that is the part I struggle with.
So how do I deal with this?
Well, firstly, I talk to the people who know and understand me about how I’m feeling. Honesty is something I value in my friendships and those who don’t sugar-coat their opinions, while hard to hear, are the people I consider my closest friends. If I tell them how I’m feeling, they’re going to tell me whether or not I’m being unreasonable or blowing things out of proportion. This trust that I’ve cultivated with them reinforces my confidence in my own decisions, gets me to see things from other perspectives and ensures that my decisions come from a place of honesty.
- I cut off contact. I always have a policy of “If someone wants me in my life, they will be”. By the time I’ve seeked advice from my friends about this, I’ve already explained my feelings to the person who is hurting me, and they’ve fallen on deaf ears, so I’m at a point where I no longer see the point in trying. Don’t get me wrong, this step is difficult for me, but I know from a vast amount of experience that there is nothing I can say or do that would change their response. However, I do often leave my door open to communication from them. By cutting my communication with them, I allow myself to move on, but they always have a chance to be in my life if they decide that they want to.
- I eventually stop talking about what happened. This step does take time, but essentially, I know I’m just saying the same thing over and over again, so eventually I get to a point where I catch myself talking about it and have to actively stop myself. The thing is, I know how I feel, my friends know how I feel, and most of the time I’ll get the same advice from anyone new that I talk to about it. So I know there is no point in dwelling on it. The less I talk about it, the less I think about it, and eventually, I move on.
- I reinforce the friendships that I do have. When someone you trust hurts you in this way, you can’t help but be grateful for the friends who you still have. You know the ins and outs of who they are and they’re there for you no matter what. When this sort of thing happens, I find it reminds me of how lucky I am to have the friends that I do and that just because this one friendship didn’t work out, doesn’t mean I’m alone. Like I said, some friends are supposed to float in and out of your life; change is inevitable, but being at peace with this concept makes it easier for me to move on.
I appreciate that relationship for what it was. I will admit, there are some relationships where this is hard to do, but most of the time I can understand that person was in my life for the time that they were for a reason; that things happened the way that they did for me to learn an important lesson and that just because I was hurt, that doesn’t mean that there weren’t positive things to gain from that person being a part of my life. Maybe this a subconscious way for me soften the blow for myself, but I’m someone who contemplates this sort of thing, my mind buzzing with thoughts and fulfilled when I realise I’ve grown as a person and the things that I’ve learned. I refuse to believe that those happy feelings I once felt with that person need to be shot to shit because they hurt me, and as such, I won’t hold a grudge.
Still, after all of these steps, I haven’t truly let go. Letting go seems to be one of those “good in theory, not in practise” types of things for me and I don’t even know if I’ve ever managed to accomplish it before. All I know is that eventually I do move on from these things and I am ok with that.