“Some birds are not meant to be caged, that’s all. Their feathers are too bright, their songs too sweet and wild. So you let them go, or when you open the cage to feed them they somehow fly out past you. And the part of you that knows it was wrong to imprison them in the first place rejoices, but still, the place where you live is that much more drab and empty for their departure.” — Stephen King, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption: A Story from Different Seasons
Everyone has heard the line “you need to let go and move on” in their lifetime. Easy to say to someone, fucking difficult to do when you’re the one living in the center of it.
It’s a dark place. It hurts to hold on and it’s also a painful process to let go.
It crushes you to your very core coming to the realization that someone you’ve loved is no longer a part of your life anymore. It’s uncomfortable, it’s dreaded emptiness, it’s glimpses of devastation, it’s suffering and sometimes self-destructive, it feels like you’re drowning and you forgot how to swim, it’s anxiety, madness and overthinking, it’s a foreign place, a language you do not understand, and sometimes it’s never getting closure.
Every second, every minute of the day feels like it’s stretched out like the ocean shores while you’re trying to heal the brokenness that lives inside of you. Some people have mastered the art of letting go, while others remain stuck for what feels like an eternity, not knowing when the person they lost that continues living on inside of them will come out. It’s a soft-hearted sacrifice loving someone greater than you love yourself.
But holding on to someone is like holding onto a rope while dangling above the earth. You’re full of fear that you’re going to fall, that you would die if you just let go. You’re holding on so tight that your hands start to weaken, you’re getting tired from putting all your strength into holding onto the rope, your grip loosens for a bit and you fall midway, skinning your hands on the way down as you desperately try to cling on. You breathe a sigh of relief because you thought you lost the rope. You try to climb back up again, only your skinned hands are in agony, it’s becoming incredibly painful to continue holding onto the rope, you can feel the skin on your hands breaking apart, you lose your grip again and fall to the ground. At first, yes, the fall hurts, but you are able to stand back up on your own two feet, dust yourself and look back up to the top of the rope in awe that you survived. See, at first you were fearful of letting go of the rope because you thought the fall would kill you, only it was holding onto the rope that caused you the most pain, ripped you apart and made you feel exhausted.
I know it hurts to say goodbye to someone when all your heart wants to do is hold on for dear life. Your heart trashes around your chest like an angry Great White Shark in a cage, you’re pulled vigorously like a puppet on strings, you gasp for air because it feels like you’ve been kicked in lungs and punched in the throat.
It’s days, weeks, months, and even years of emotions coming and going. But letting go and moving on is not about controlling the waves that come over you, let them come, because they will. Some will be a tsunami, others will be gentle waves kissing the shore, it’s about keeping your boat floating and moving forward to a safe haven, a place of peace and happiness.
In order to let go, you need to learn to accept. Accept that closure is truly a rare phenomenon. Accept you won’t ever get the answer you want to hear. You’ll never get the apology you needed. Accept that this person is no longer a part of your life moving forward, but instead apart of your past, filled with wonderful memories.
You’ll need to embrace change. Embrace that your daily routine will not involve seeing or talking to this person, instead give yourself something else to look forward to in the day, free yourself from the attachment that once was there. Embrace new relationships or new projects or hobbies that will help you grow, learn and heal in order to find inner peace and happiness again.
You’ll need to modify your expectations. This will keep you from becoming attached to a preconceived vision that is not guaranteed. Ask yourself what do you value? What type of person do you want to be? Who do you want to be around? If the next person who comes into your life doesn’t have what you value most, don’t waste your time.
Remember what you deserve and know you are capable of love. You need to forget what hurt you but never forget what it taught you. Sadly, some of life’s greatest lessons come from the ones who loved and hurt us.
And lastly, you need to know you’re not alone in this fight, and you never will be, many people will be feeling the same way you are. So, don’t give up, don’t close your heart to the world and don’t stop believing that tomorrow could be a better day.
The process of letting go never happens overnight. You’ll need to master patience and trust the process.
Some days, you’ll put up a really good fight but still lose, and that’s okay, spit the blood out from your mouth, get back up, and try again.
The day will come where you see everything differently, you’ll wake up one day and notice the pain in your chest has subsided, the heart feels like it’s mended, the fog around your head has cleared, and you’ll look back and be reminded that while it did hurt at the time, you’ve now changed, you’ve now grown, your heart that once was so heavy is lighter and everything worked out just as it should when your heart finally decided the day to let everything you held on to so tight go.