We’ve all said it or had someone say it to us, if not both. It’s the mantra of the well meaning…”Just let it go”. I manage to be patient and understanding most of the time, but sometimes it is absolutely teeth gnashingly, jaw clenchingly, fist makingly difficult not to get snippy.
Most often that is because I’m not holding on to things on purpose, so telling me to ‘let it go’ just makes me sing like Elsa in my head, which does nothing but give me an earworm of a refrain for hours on end. Which is also annoying.
Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not an impatient, stubborn monster who cannot control herself. However, I am a woman who has spent considerable time over the years letting go of a lot of things. Some went on their merry way and some just sort of stuck around.
Have you ever tried to let go of a slight? A relationship? Someone you loved? An unfair loss? Someone cheating and still prospering? Then you understand, right? Sometimes you can decide to be the bigger person and release the slight, or the letdown from someone’s unexpected and atrocious behavior, or even being on the receiving end of someone’s inability to follow social norms. But when it feels like a loss, whether someone has passed, someone has moved on to do new things, someone literally moved, or someone decided you weren’t the person they wanted in their life…that hurts. And hurt is hard to let go of.
When I stop and think about the things I haven’t been able to let go of, there is a preponderance of relationships in that column. Sometimes friends and sometimes people who were more, but most of the things I struggle to let go of are relationships.
I could name them, some of them it has been 30 years since I’ve seen them but I remember them perfectly. People from college I no longer talk to because, for whatever reason, we went our separate ways. Friends who used to be more that I’ve known too long to think of them that way anymore, but I remember the hurt of not feeling ‘chosen’ when we split up. People I dated in my 20s-30s who broke my heart and left a scar on my soul. Most recently, it was someone I liked but who had no time for me. So we parted ways.
I had to let them all go. But have I really? They pop into my conscious thoughts sometimes, making it seem like they are lurking in the corners of my mind and waiting until I’m dealing with heightened emotions or I’m almost asleep to come into focus. Sometimes it feels like I’m Scrooge seeing the ghosts of my past.
But what am I really seeing? What am I really experiencing? Am I reliving the old hurts? Or am I holding on to the most easily recognizable example of a specific feeling? Am I lumping together all the similar hurts and making a big messy emotional ball of gunk? Thinking about it, I believe it is the last. I don’t think of every friend I have lost, just a couple of them. I don’t think of every dating relationship that ended, just a few of them. I don’t think about who I’ve lost all the time, just some of the time. But it doesn’t make the memories I can’t seem to let go of any less powerful.
So how do people actually let go of their experiences, or their relationships, or their past? If you stop and think about it, it all comes down to being willing to move on so you can become able to move on. I don’t mean to make it sound easy, it’s not. However, in my opinion, it’s only when you are capable of moving on can you actually fully let go.