Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Letting go and holding on.

I've been thinking a lot about what to write lately. Basically, it's been a much tougher time than I would have anticipated and I haven't been able to find the right way to explain it here, or even to myself. So in the interest of documentation, here goes...

The breakup began around the beginning of January last year. For a long time I designated January 5th for when it all began. I'm not sure exactly if it was that day, but January 5th always seemed right to me. I didn't move out until February 16th, so that's when it will be officially the One Year Anniversary.

So to commemorate this time last year, my subconscious has decided that every night I have to have some kind of dreadful, nightmarish, gut-wrenching dream about my ex; every night since New Years Eve.

Every. Fucking. Night.

Why? Well, maybe I'm paying off some karmic debt. Maybe I did some really heinous shit in another life and now I'm being punished. Or maybe, it's a reaction to the fact we haven't seen each other or even heard each other's voices for a whole year and well, that just feels weird, and in all honesty does seem sort of unnatural. I don't know. I just know that these dreams are pretty unpleasant and they definitely keep him at the top of my mind when I really just want to push him back.

Having these thoughts and dreams gets me sucked right back into wanting to contact him. I often become absolutely convinced it's time. I even have a whole scenario for how our first meeting is going to be. What to hear it?

OK, so I call, no, I text a simple message that just says, "Meet me at X place at Y time. It's time we talked." Nice, right? Simple, to the point, no drama. So then we meet and I walk into the place and I am looking awesome, looking 10 times better than he could have ever remembered me. Then I sit down in front of him, he bursts into tears, takes my hand, apologizes for being such a DICK, he then tells me that he knows that he didn't handle the aftermath of the breakup well, that he knows he wasn't considerate of me, and he is totally ready to participate in a shared narrative of what went wrong and what he and I have learned in this past year and how we've both grown as people, blah blah blah. Then we hug, say goodbye, and wish each other well. And there it is, folks, closure. I will have said the things I needed to say, heard the things I needed to hear, and with that I will have closed that chapter in my life and moved on knowing that we loved each other once, it mattered, it was a big deal, we are better off without each other and we can both go on to live separate, yet fulfilling, lives.

Okay so let's take a minute to let that resonate. Sounds good, right? Healthy. Adult. Cerebral.

Well, here's the thing: That. Is. Fucking. Crazy.

That shit is never gonna happen. Ever. It just isn't. I've alluded to wanting something like this from him, and he hasn't participated. Besides, how often does anything happen the way we picture them ideally happening? I would probably either, (a) trip on my way through the door, (b) burst into tears and humiliate myself, (c) throw something at him and run out, or (d) blurt out some string of incoherent words in fit of hysteria; take your pick.

So if my ideal closure fantasy isn't going to happen, then I really need to let it go. But it's hard to do. There are times when letting go feels so close, but things like holidays, birthdays, and especially the breakup anniversary muddle my brain and make me think that the thing I need the most is not to "let go" but to talk to him, and that's the opposite of letting go; that's "holding on." I sometimes get so close to letting go that it makes me nervous and all I want to do is hold on. And by holding on, I mean that I want to acknowledge that he exists outside of my memory and what I really want is to know that what I participated in for one year shy of a decade (my entire young adult life to date) actually mattered, happened for a reason, and was not some huge colossal waste of my time. In the end, I want to hold on because letting go feels like it all didn't matter, or that it didn't even happen at all.

I guess what I'm really looking for is validation. Validation that all those years mattered for something. But I have a feeling that letting go doesn't mean that those things didn't matter, I think letting go means that those things don't matter anymore. And that's a tough thing to admit. It's hard to say that something so big doesn't matter anymore.

I can tell myself a million supportive, smart things about how letting go is up to me and not dependent on him, but still the draw to contact him is very real because of that nasty little word that hounds so many of us going through breakups, "closure."

I, and I think many others, believe that in order to let go you must first have closure. But here's the thing about closure, it's only something that both people have to be willing to give, you both have to want it, and I'm guessing it takes a great deal of effective communication. And there I think is where my plans fall apart. Communication wasn't our strongest quality. So what makes me think that we could communicate now? What makes me think that something magical would happen now, one year later, that would make us both effective communicators and logical, clear headed, non-emotional, purely friendly individuals coming together for the greater good of this thing we call "closure?"

The answer is that nothing magical is going to happen now. We are who we are. And since that's the case, then I should let go because I'm not going to get the closure I want.

But maybe, someday I'll get a different type of closure. Maybe it will include him, maybe it won't. I have a feeling that whatever it is and whenever it happens, it won't be my ideal closure fantasy, but whatever it is will get me closer to letting go.

In the meantime, I'll keep in mind that I'm doing the best I can, I'm moving on with my life, the last decade wasn't a waste of time, it made me who I am today and for all intents and purposes I really like who I am today, and it also taught me some valuable lessons in how to be a better partner and what to look for in a future partner. With a lot of support from some of the wonderful people in my life (you know how you are) I can remember that closure and letting go is something that has to come from within me and not from anywhere else. And when I feel like I'm getting closer to letting go, I will fight that pull to hold on.

So, Dear Followers, how do you perceive yourself "letting go?" What does it look like to you? Do you think you need closure to let go? Or, are you doing fine without it?


  1. I'm really sorry you've been going through a tough time again - that must be so frustrating! I usually find that those sort of dreams come along with something I'm not acknowledging or processing properly, so I wonder whether you had a good sleep again after writing this.

    To be honest with you, all the advice I was going to give you as I read, you landed up giving yourself. I do pretty much think closure is a myth (should we be blaming Friends?). Yes, there is a moment, but as you said yourself, it's not usually something that you can get from someone else. I suspect that even if you had that dream meeting (and no, it's never going to go down that way) you'd leave feeling disappointed, because it still wouldn't give you what you are craving. You will find your moment, but he can't give it to you.

    As my therapist once said, you have to become comfortable with the mess and the jagged edges and stop looking for a neat tie up to the narrative. Try not to put so much pressure on yourself around the anniversary to have this 'perfect breakup'. Try to concentrate on the parts of your life that are not about him at all and are about "what next". I think it's almost like those funny 3D drawings you used to get, that when you take your eye off it and let everything get a little fuzzy, it suddenly comes into focus. When you least expect it, closure will sneak up on you.

  2. I may have posted this elsewhere..

    To let go does not mean to stop caring, it means I can't do it for someone else.
    To let go is not to cut myself off, it's the realization I can't control another.
    To let go is not to enable, but allow learning from natural consequences.
    To let go is to admit powerlessness, which means the outcome is not in my hands.
    To let go is not to try to change or blame another, it's to make the most of myself.
    To let go is not to care for, but to care about.
    To let go is not to fix, but to be supportive.
    To let go is not to judge, but to allow another to be a human being.
    To let go is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes, but to allow others to affect their destinies.
    To let go is not to be protective, it's to permit another to face reality.
    To let go is not to deny, but to accept.
    To let go is not to nag, scold or argue, but instead to search out my own shortcomings and correct them.
    To let go is not to adjust everything to my desires, but to take each day as it comes and cherish myself in it.
    To let go is not to criticize or regulate anybody, but to try to become what I dream I can be.
    To let go is not to regret the past, but to grow and live for the future.
    To let go is to fear less and love more.
    Remember: The time to love is short.
    (author unknown)


  3. Rules: Thanks so much for the encouragement, again! I honestly did sleep better after I wrote this and since then I've had almost no dreadful dreams. I think I just needed to get all that off my chest. As always, writing all this stuff down is very cathartic.

    What your therapist said is so right, "... you have to become comfortable with the mess and the jagged edges and stop looking for a neat tie up to the narrative." I guess there really is no neat way to tie this one up and I have to be okay with that. I'm feeling more and more that I will be okay with that. Its definitely getting clearer and easier as the time goes on. Thanks again for the support!

  4. Santaslil: Thanks for posting that poem. I especially liked, "To let go is not to regret the past, but to grow and live for the future." Thats something I have to remind myself every now and again. Thanks.

  5. OMG. I totally get ya. You need them for the closure but if you don't/can't get it, you are on your own. But maybe that is your ideal closure... maybe you just don't know it yet. When it happens, you'll be like "that worked so well..." And if it didn't, it wasn't your closure, yet.

    I think we all need closure to let go, it just comes in so many different forms, we don't always recognize it. I thought I had gotten closure with my ex years ago until I dated someone new and realized that I had so much pent up emotion, anger, resentment, etc. And unfortunately it took a toll on my new relationship. It was a HUGE lesson to be learned. But I recognized it and managed to find the closure... or rather, I let it find me :-) And so much of that emotion just went away.

    Needless to say when I came out of my last rel'ship, I worked hard, or tried to at least, to let go before dating again. And when I did date and it upset me more, I took a step back and stopped. I recently started dating someone new. I had been on a number of dates before him of whom none interested me and I wondered if I still wasn't ready. After all, I had only made the conscious decision to put myself out there to find out if I was ready. Then I met him... and everything seemed to fall into place. I am still not sure I am ready 100%, but I am aware of it this time. And with that knowledge I will take it slow and open up that side of me to him over time, and share with him my hesitance. But it also helped me get more closure. It reinstated all the things I discovered about myself during my mourning period... it reassured me that I knew what I wanted and where I wanted to go :-)

    How you doing with your closure? How does it feel? (or should I keep on reading to find out...)



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