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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Letting go

This is a concept that has been weighing heavily on my mind lately.  I have spent a lot of time this week talking to a friend of mine who is in an abusive and dangerous marriage.  I’ve been listening to her and offering my advice, support, and love, in part because I truly do love her and care about her, and in part because I can relate so closely to what she’s going through.

I nod along with all of her arguments.  “It’s my fault.  If only I had done such and such differently.”  “I don’t want to live like this, but I don’t want to leave him either.  What if I leave and he won’t take me back?”  “He will be devastated if I leave.  I can’t stand the thought of hurting him like that.”  “I just love him so much.  Why does it have to hurt to love him like this?” 

And meanwhile, as she sits at the computer reaching out for help through her pain and her tears, her husband is outside in the family van, staying awake all night on adult web sites where he can immerse himself in his virtual life. 

My heart aches for her, because I understand all too well what it’s like to feel like you are trapped by way of circumstance.  I understand how it feels when your heart is telling you something that is entirely contrary to what your head is telling you.  I understand the heartache, the conflict, the loyalty, the guilt, and the hopelessness.  And after living in pain and misery and fear until I had finally had enough, I decided to make change happen for myself instead of waiting for my marriage to change for me, and in that decision I learned one of the greatest lessons of all.  I learned that sometimes, when the only choices that lay before us are equally wrought with pain, we have to choose the one that forces us to let go of something that once was and move on to something yet unseen. 

Our lives are not intended to be defined by our relationships.  The relationships we have with others should complete us, allow us to thrive, help us to experience love and joy and friendship and laughter.  When a relationship fails to enhance us, but instead leaves us empty, searching for something that does not exist within its bounds, it is time to let go.  Yes, it hurts, often excruciatingly so.  It can be frightening, overwhelming, confusing, devastating, and very, incredibly lonely.  But all of those things can heal with time.  And when the only two choices that remain are the pain of holding on or the pain of letting go, it’s time to let go.  It is in that process of letting go that we find the salve of time and love and peace that heals us from within, and we discover that life beyond our immediate circumstances can not only exist, but it can be so much better than anything we had ever imagined.

You can’t know that better side when you are desperately holding on to a wilting rose that once was beautiful but is now not much more than a thorn-covered stem.  Before the wounds pricked by those thorns can begin to heal, you have to let go.  

6 comments:

Kelley said...

This was beautiful, Anne Marie.

Love you.

Sherrie said...

Yes, beautiful. Hugs.

Kim V. said...

And when the only two choices that remain are the pain of holding on or the pain of letting go, it’s time to let go. It is in that process of letting go that we find the salve of time and love and peace that heals us from within, and we discover that life beyond our immediate circumstances can not only exist, but it can be so much better than anything we had ever imagined.

That ^ is so true. And only we can decide when we have gotten to that point. It is hard to stand beside a friend for whom we cannot make this decision. We can only hope to be there to help her through.
I keep telling you the same thing, but I am going to say it again - I am so glad you are moving forward and working through each emotion along the way. It is wonderful to see you empowering yourself.

Erica said...

The salve of time and love and peace. I keep reading that phrase over and over again.

I see love and peace in you every time I see you. You're becoming a beautiful garden instead of part of a single rose.

Dest said...

So beautiful AM. Just like you.

ErikaRobin said...

Bravo, AM. :)