Letting go of people, places and things July 4, 2019 – Posted in: Advice, Relationships – Tags: acceptance, change, compassion, decisions, failure, growth, life, peace, positive thinking, relationships, self esteem, truth
I have had to let go of many things in my life; old habits that were no longer serving me, old unhelpful thoughts and self-limiting beliefs, old favourite clothes that were worn through, old homes my expanding family had outgrown, old ways of working etc. Always, before letting go, there was a period of trying to cling on (denial) and always, during letting go, there has been some kind of sadness. More often than not, after the period of letting go, there is a sense of relief and peace, despite some lingering sadness.
Relationships and friendships
The same is true of relationships although these are much, much harder to let go of and they cause much, much deeper experiences of the aforementioned denial, sadness and relief. I have recently experienced the ending of a close friendship and it has been one of the toughest, most painful things I’ve ever waded through, because to throw in the towel over a relationship feels like failure. To let a person go feels disloyal. To walk away from a friendship that is no longer working feels like a disregard for all the times in the past when the friendship was great.
But these feelings are not based in any truth. It is not a failure to walk away from (or to be walked away from) a relationship that is no longer working – it’s an honest assessment of where the relationship has come to. Happy moments with friends in the past will always remain happy moments despite what is happening today; the present cannot change the facts of the past in that way. People come, people go, but to ourselves we must always remain true and so loyalty has to start with ourselves. If you can no longer be yourself in your friendship and feel judged, belittled and disliked because of who you have grown into, then it’s probably kindest to everyone to step away.
During this painful time I have been held up by some amazing people. One of them, a wonderful, eccentric professor we fondly call Professor James, told me a story from his childhood…
“I had a favourite pair of slippers when I was four,” he started.
“Okaaaaaay…?” I replied, wondering where on earth he was going with this story about slippers when I was feeling very sad…
He continued, “I absolutely loved them. They were soft and warm and comfy. I used to look forward to getting home so I could put them on and I wore them all the time I could for several years. But when I was eight, they started to hurt me. They pinched and rubbed my feet but I kept wearing them hoping they would go back to being my comfortable, soft old slippers.”
“Aha,” I grinned, penny finally dropping.
“And then one day my mother told me the slippers were going to have to go. I was mortified and begged her not to throw them out. But she told me that I had outgrown the slippers, that my feet were too big for them and that they would never provide me with the warmth and comfort they once had. I cried as the dumper truck took them away but my feet were never pinched and rubbed by those old slippers again.”
Letting go and accepting change
Change is never easy. Letting go is not easy either. But, for our growth as people, we have to align ourselves with what is happening not what we want to happen or think should be happening. If I’m honest, I had been in denial about this particular friendship for years and years because I didn’t want to let it go and I didn’t want to accept the truth. Which was that this person probably didn’t like me very much anymore, hence why she was behaving towards me in the way she was. And once I’d accepted that fact, it was okay – not everyone is going to like us, especially if we are people open to growth and change. It doesn’t mean I can’t still love her from a distance.
What’s been amazing and totally unexpected is the flurry of other more casual friends who have somehow just popped up in my life since my old friend and I parted ways. I bumped into two in one day last week! My relationships with my children and my partner have deepened as I have turned to them for support and counsel. There has also been a huge creative surge in me and my second book is now well underway. All because I created some space and allowed old, negative energy to leave my life (note I am describing the energy of the declining friendship as negative, not my friend).
The Universe knows what it’s doing – when I listen to guts (the truth), align myself with what’s happening, and show up with courage, I can trust that everything will fall into place. Growth hurts but it’s always worth the pain.