“You’ll get over it…” It’s the clichés that cause the trouble. To lose someone you love is to alter your life forever. You don’t get over it because ‘it” is the person you loved. The pain stops, there are new people, but the gap never closes. How could it? The particularity of someone who mattered enough to grieve over is not made anodyne by death. This hole in my heart is in the shape of you and no-one else can fit it. Why would I want them to? — Jeanette Winterson
When we are faced with troubling situations in our lives, there are a few pieces of advice that we recieve no matter what the circumstances or timeline. “One day you will look back and laugh,” “you just have to let it go and move on,” and “you wait and see- there is always a silver lining” are among these pieces of advice. I read this Jeanette Winterson quote recently and it struck such a chord within me that I just couldn’t let it go.
What if these pieces of advice are the exact opposite of what we need to hear? What if you never let “it” go, whatever “it” may be, and you’re left feeling crazy and isolated believing that moving on and forgetting is your one single option?
Maybe we’re not always meant to let go. Maybe it’s okay to feel sad over a loss forever and never fully let go while simply moving through the motions of life until something makes you smile again.
Every time I’ve experienced a death, a heartbreak, or any type of loss, I have been told that one day I will move on and be okay. I’m sure the same goes for you, whoever you are. Yet, I haven’t moved on from most of these losses.
I don’t think the human soul is really capable of totally “letting go,” even if we trick ourselves into believing that we have done so.
Maybe it’s okay to see my bowl of oatmeal every morning and think of my deceased little brother, who I used to give the soupy oatmeal to in the mornings because he was the sibling we picked on the most. Maybe it’s okay to hear the roar of a massive truck coming down the road and think of my first love coming to pick me up from my college apartment.
Maybe it’s okay to remember all the mistakes I’ve made, the people I’ve hurt, and the things I’ve said that I wish I could take back and keep them with me.
To let them go would be an insult to everything they taught me, everything that they taught the people who went through them with me.
Who is to say you can’t keep an old love with you while you venture into the beautiful and awkward notions of a new one? Who’s to say you should let go of any friendship, romance, lost parent, sibling, or pet while introducing new people into your life that won’t fill these holes, but just create new spots to reside in your heart?
No, you don’t have to let it go. You have all the capacity in the world to hold on to whatever you’ve been through while letting new experiences in.