Releasing Is Not Synonymous With Giving Up

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God & Man

I hold onto things for far too long. When I feel people slipping from my grasp, I pull them closer. When a feeling starts to fade, I try so desperately to bring it back to life. I have this silly belief that I have the power to make someone I love lean into me, as if I can somehow change their mind, as if the beating of my heart can somehow pull theirs into rhythm with mine.

I spend so much time and energy chasing—chasing people, chasing feelings, chasing what feels familiar—because familiar is safe. Because safe feels good. Because sometimes it’s much easier to hold onto what I know than to stand there shivering in my naked skin. Because to let go is to stare emptiness in the face, and suddenly I’m forced to figure out what I need and who I am without that safety blanket I’ve kept wrapped around my shoulders for so long.

So I grab people, I grab things, I take all that I’ve known and hold it tightly in my palms as it’s slipping away because I’m scared.

I’m scared of the unknowns. I’m scared of the changes. I’m scared of who I’ll become when I’m not surrounded by everything and everyone who has made me, me. And because I’ve conditioned myself to believe that walking away is weakness. That walking away means giving up. That walking way means quitting, and I don’t want to be the kind of person who quits.

Yet, what I’ve learned is the truth of taking steps away from something that’s not meant for me—toxicity, pain, abuse, negativity—this is necessary.

It’s healthy to form boundaries, to say ‘no’ when the feeling isn’t right, to leave relationships and jobs and environments and places where I am not safe, not welcomed, not treasured, not treated with the love and respect I deserve and am so worthy of.

I’ve learned that there’s a difference between giving up and releasing. Giving up means I stop—I stop fighting, I stop believing, I stop putting in effort, or giving that person my all. Releasing means I’ve done all I can, I’ve shared my heart, I’ve battled and loved fiercely and expended energy, even as something or someone loosened their grip on me.

Releasing means I’ve allowed whatever it is that’s fading to find its path. I’ve accepted that some things are not meant to stay forever, that some people are blessings and lessons that hold a temporary place in my life. That finding space between what is not mine is healthy. And that I am giving both of us—what wants to leave, and myself—freedom.

Releasing doesn’t mean that I quit. It doesn’t mean I turn my back on people, or abandon them when they need me. It doesn’t mean I fall in and out of relationships with ease. But it doesn’t mean that I stay where I’m not wanted, either.

Releasing means that I feel. I feel deeply. I fight. I find ways to bring love and light into my life. But I also acknowledge when another person or thing surrounds me with only darkness. And I love them in that darkness as much as possible before I wrap my light safely within my rib cage, and take steps away.

Releasing is not synonymous with giving up. Releasing is space, new beginnings, and hope.

And so I’ve been working on distance, on boundaries, on letting go of what is not mine to keep, to fix, to hold. I’ve been loving people in all the ways I can, but remembering to love myself, too. I’ve been acknowledging the fact that I cannot change anything in this life but my attitude, my circumstances, my choices, my heart. And I’m making sure that I’m doing everything in my power to be a person who loves, who gives, who cares, but who also stands strong on her own two feet.

Most importantly, I’m working on changing what I cling so desperately to, reminding myself that it’s okay, it’s healthy to release. To let the things and people I love find their own way, even if that means a life without me.

I’m working on holding out my open palms and reaching to the sky, welcoming change and discomfort and the unknown. Because familiar is safe, but sometimes a well-lived life is letting go and embracing whatever comes. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Marisa is a writer, poet, & editor. She is the author of Somewhere On A Highway, a poetry collection on self-discovery, growth, love, loss and the challenges of becoming.

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