Now here it comes,
the hardest part of all.
Guess I’m just learning,
Learning the art of letting go…
Mikaila, “The Art of Letting Go”
A few weeks ago, I was talking to my mom about my innate desire to help other people, often ready and willing to put their needs before my own. I think it’s always been this way — seeing others happy creates a sense of happiness for me, just like seeing them in pain makes me kinda want to hug the hurt away and shed tears side by side. I admitted to her that I didn’t want to lose that part of myself, that compassion, but there were times when I felt myself so deeply affected by others that it was having an adverse reaction on me.
I sympathize, I empathize, and then I swallow those emotions and bottle them up, holding onto them tightly. I hold onto everything too tightly. I’m too desperately afraid to let go, afraid that something will change, afraid that I’ll leave something behind — or be left behind — afraid I’ll have to move on and I won’t be ready.
My mom’s response was wisely sharing a variation of a fable she had heard years ago…
There once was a man who was walking along on his journey when, off in the distance, a faint shout echoed.
“Help!” The voice yelled. “Help, help!”
The man followed the voice until he approached a bridge. As he drew closer, he noticed a man was hanging from the side, holding on with all his might.
“Can you help me?” the stranger asked, fearfully.
The man rushed over and grabbed onto the stranger. “Give me your other hand,” he instructed.
“I can’t,” the stranger replied.
“You have to.”
“No, no,” the stranger said. “I can’t let go or I’ll fall.”
“Give me your hand,” the man insisted. “I’ll help you.”
Both held on, but soon the man realized he could do so for little longer.
“My hand is slipping; you need to pull yourself up.”
“I can’t let go,” the stranger cried out. “Don’t let go.”
“I’m sorry,” the man said sadly. “But I have to.”
After some time, the man’s journey happened to lead him back to that same bridge. The stranger was still holding on, too afraid to let someone help him, to afraid to let go.
There are so many messages in this story: there are times when you have to ask for help and times when you have to help yourself.
But there’s one that spoke to me loud and clear, one that I’ve begun to realize is the hardest lesson I’ve ever had to face, a lesson that still lingers, that I’m still learning.
Sometimes, you just have to let go.