Some of us think holding on makes us strong; but sometimes it is letting go.
Someone once told me that 2009 was going to be a year of healing and hope. Looking back, seeing how far we’ve come, looking at where we are now, I know this to be true. It was a year of reflection, of understanding. It was a year of being lost, being found, and being in that in-between. It was, in fact, a year of healing – in every single possible way.
One of the hardest lessons I’ve learned this year, what I like to think of as my life lesson because I have a feeling I’ll always be attempting to understand and reconcile this fact, is the ability to let go.
People. Places. Objects. Feelings. Memories. I’ve held onto these things, clinging to them, unable to let go, even though I know I have to move on because they’ve always been my comfort, my safe zone. In a world that is ever-changing, I would hold fast to these for as long as I possibly could, until they, too, slipped away with time, with change. With what has always been inevitable.
Grace Boyle of Small Hands, Big Ideas, wrote an entry this week about reconciling loss that sparked these thoughts and reflection. It’s an absolutely beautiful post that moved me, that helped me to realize just why we hold on the way that we do, why it’s so hard to sometimes let go.
I wrote the following comment on her post, and, with her encouragement, am sharing it here as well. I encourage everyone to read her post and offer their thoughts there as well.
I think the older we get, the more things affect you, although we’re less likely to admit it. When you’re young, you just don’t understand things in the same way — you feel what you feel, but then you get up and you move on with barely a look back. That’s a childhood blessing, a lesson that I wish we could hang onto — and maybe some of us can. But I think when you get older, things affect you on a deeper level and so you hold onto it differently. When you’re a kid, you can scream and cry and acknowledge your feelings. When you experience loss, you miss what you have but you know how to move on. When you’re an adult, though, I think you feel more acutely, but that’s not really ok according to society. You’re supposed to get over it and move on and not look back at all.
Which, in my opinion, is kind of BS. Some things take longer to move on from. And sometimes healing doesn’t come with just the passing of time. As someone who is incredibly sensitive and empathetic by nature, I’ve come to understand that feeling what you feel doesn’t have to mean a sign of weakness. This past year alone, I’ve learned that a person is capable of such strong emotions — that’s a part of being human — and I have learned to live and love that very mantra “feel what you feel.”
I think we need to realize that we’re human, that having emotions are acceptable because that is really what makes us different. We mourn our losses and we acknowledge our fears because that’s what helps us to appreciate what we have and celebrate what once was; knowing our fears is what helps us to face them and grow, learn.
Distractions are great and can help lessen the blow, can offer some perspective, some time. But in the end, they’re only that: distractions.
Feel what you need to feel and never, ever be ashamed for it. Because those feelings? That’s also what makes you you.
Sometimes, I’ve begun to learn, you have to move on. Sometimes, when faced with losses – no matter what kind, no matter when it happens, and no matter the depth of your grief – it’s hard to reconcile, it takes time. But that letting go and moving on can only come with the acknowledgement of what you feel and how you’ve changed. As Grace so beautifully writes, “that piece of you is changed forever and it’s okay.”
As much as I may want to, I’m beginning to see now that you can’t hide in the past, holding onto what once was because you’re afraid of change, afraid of those emotions, burying them because acknowledging them would mean acknowledging what you’ve lost.
What I’ve always known but am finally beginning to understand, thanks to Grace, thanks to others, thanks to this year, is that loss doesn’t mean then and now, but rather a blend of them both.
Because those people, places, objects, feelings, memories? You carry them with you, into a future that’s still there, still waiting.
Thanks to everyone for making 2009 a year of friendship and community, insights and learning. Here’s to you, cheers to you!