How many of us have held onto our past so tightly that the world felt gray? Have you been in a place where you couldn’t experience the moments right in front of you because you had your eyes steady in the rearview?
It seems logical to understand that not everything in this life is meant to last forever and that you’re going to let go, start over, and repeat the cycle throughout your life in so many different ways.
But when it comes to the heart, logic is written in a language we don’t understand.
It’s easy to say you’re going to run into the future with no strings attached and start new. But we all know a bruised heart takes time to heal. The scar you’ll wear around has the ability to make you stronger and help you choose wiser in the future, but it shouldn’t make you cold. You shouldn’t carry around that old suitcase filled with memories of love and loss forever. The things you brought with you in one phase of your life may not belong in the next. When you lose a relationship that once fit who you were but eventually outgrew, it can seem impossible to let go when the time comes. We’re conditioned to believe that love is meant to be conquered and endured at all costs, even if that looks like two broken hearts fusing together out of fear of moving on.
But holding onto a ghost is the story of so many. So why do we hold on to something that doesn’t exist anymore?
We hear stories of unconditional love that are based on a false reality. The star-crossed lovers, the invisible red string guiding people together. We search for stories filled with second chances and stars aligning because it gives us hope. It gives us something to believe in when everything inside feels chaotic.
These stories romanticize the idea that love has to hurt in order for it to be real. I thought love meant having something so special that no other person would understand. That you should wait for them to come back, because isn’t that what true love means? Doesn’t it mean never letting go? Telling yourself over and over to hold on until the day they show up in your life again, because of course they will. I thought love meant allowing someone to always hold a piece of my heart, even after it was shattered into a million pieces. I thought love meant holding onto this pain.
We don’t talk about why this is so dangerous though. Why clinging to these thoughts is unfair and unhealthy.
Spoiler alert: My misguided definition of love is not what anyone should be striving for. This isn’t a rom com, and the grandiose gestures we see in movies aren’t how relationships work, which is something we should all be thankful for. People say love is complicated, and in some ways this is more than true, but not in the way that you choose the person you love and you choose them every day. And you let go of the people you don’t or aren’t compatible with. You let go of your past so you can embrace your future. That’s the summary of a good love story. This isn’t The Notebook. Ali isn’t going to find the house built for her years later by a long lost love. It’s simply a movie within an industry designed to make money on human emotions. Hollywood won this round.
Life isn’t meant to be so hard, and neither are relationships. We’re going to experience traumatic events throughout life, and this we can all count on. So why hold onto a ghost in your past just to endure the hurt a little longer? Release your pain, your anger, and your regrets and notice how the world looks a little more clear. Choose to heal the burdens of your past and open yourself up to new experiences, because this is what life is for. You’re meant to have as many experiences as you need until you can finally say you’re whole. So choose the experiences that expand your mind and your heart and you’ll find your place. You’ll find your people. You’ll find your heart.