On My Struggle to “Let Go”

I’ve been doing well enough to write for a week or so, at this point…I’ve been meaning to do so, but I haven’t been sure what to say. Sometimes, the best writing comes after letting thoughts simmer and stew for a while. At least, I can hope that’s the case.

I always struggled with the concept of “letting go,” especially in practice. It sounded really nice, being able to let a load drop free of my shoulders and move forward with a smile on my face. But whenever I was faced with something difficult, something I couldn’t change that I nonetheless hated, I clung to all the negative feelings with a death grip I couldn’t figure out how to break. Over and over I’d run the same thoughts through my mind, the “whys” and “hows” and “it’s not real, right?” I’d examine the situation from every angle, desperately searching for a way to fix it, to change the outcome, no matter how pointless it was. I would KNOW I was doing something that would make my life harder, but I couldn’t stop.

I’m still that way, for the most part, and I don’t know the “secret” to letting go. But when it came to being dumped by Josh, the breakup led to a breakthrough.

For a couple days, I thought I was going to die. The world was ending. I couldn’t go on. There was no hope, no future. All I could do was sleep and cry. Everything reminded me of Josh, and every kind word or smile from my family reminded me of the jagged hole in my heart. I was legitimately considering taking my own life, although I had the presence of mind to fight that desire and to talk about it with my mother and a friend who’s been there for me in that sort of situation in the past.

While I was awake, I tried to distract myself, but I also spent some time talking to positive people and reading quotes that would hopefully inspire me in my journey to recovery. I had a hard time acknowledging my situation at first, so I mostly pretended I was okay when interacting with other people. It was self-defense; when I finally let myself truly grieve and feel the pain of what happened, wrapped in my mother’s arms and sobbing uncontrollably, I thought I’d never feel hope again. I thought I could never trust anyone again, or find love. I’d been hiding from the pain, refusing to face it head-on, because I didn’t believe I was strong enough to get through it. I thought I was broken, and I desperately wanted to hold the pieces together as long as possible before I lost my grip.

I slept a lot; enough to start getting dehydrated and to eat maybe one meal a day, if that. I’m sure my family and friends worried about me, about how much I slept, but I believe it was healing, for me. My dreams were vivid and entrancing. Sometimes they’d bring on a dull ache when I awoke, but more often I found myself excited about the world I’d created in my sleep, or happy about the fun events that had occurred in my dream.

More importantly, all the time spent sleeping allowed my subconscious mind to chew on the positive and encouraging words I’d been forcing myself to read. I was able to ponder them, accept them, and implement them without having to consciously face all the pain that stood in their way. Every time I awoke, I felt one step closer to being normal, to looking forward again. I felt like I understood things more clearly than I had before.

And one day, I realized that I was okay. Truly okay. I realized I’d let go of the pain, and disbelief, and the need for the breakup not to have happened. I understood that it was true, what my friends had told me: that breakups happen to people, and they hurt and it sucks, but there is life after that and people can find greater happiness than they thought they would at the time. I thought about the sitcom New Girl, and the breakups the characters went through and how it never seemed like such a big deal from the outside; they eventually got over it and started dating again. And they still lived life and spent time with their friends, even when they missed their former lover.

And I got it. I don’t know how, exactly, and I don’t know what that something was that finally clicked in my mind, but I am so grateful that I know it’s possible for me to let go. It’s possible for me to move on, and be happy, and even be thankful for what happened. I can talk about Josh without wanting to cry. I hardly ever miss him; I’d love to date him again but I’m okay with it being over for good. When he drove here to bring me the stuff I’d left at his place, I was okay. I joked, he laughed, I went inside after he left and I felt good. I felt like a normal person. It was incredibly uplifting to recognize that in myself.

Ideally, I’ll never face a situation like that again. Realistically, I know I will. And hopefully, now that my mind somehow knows the path to acceptance and peace, I can face those challenges head-on and get through them faster than ever before. I believe I’ll go so much further than I ever imagined I could.

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