In my time on Earth, I have had some pretty epic letting go scenarios. The first and the hardest were letting my parents go. One through death, the other through substance and resulting extreme toxicity that I could no longer bear. The latest, a beloved pet I raised from a puppy. For some reason this feels like the worst letting go of all of them. I’m not sure why really but I suspect that the grief of any letting go is cumulative. You don’t ever heal from letting go and each time a new scenario presents itself and you must decide again that you must let go even when you don’t want to, all the pain from all of the past letting go’s come straight back out to the light of day from the depths of your soul.
They say grief and pain heal in time. Sitting here today, I know that isn’t true. You can come to terms with letting go, the emotional whirlwind of grief but when you love so deeply and must let go, there is no real recovery. You must learn to expand who you are, stretch your very capacity for understanding, love and compassion and learn to live despite the pain. It’s the hardest thing to do. But what I can offer is that there is something I discovered along the way when dealing with the heart break of having to let go. I mean, first and foremost, counseling is helpful in managing the processing of emotion. Given. Important. Please do it if you face extreme pain in letting go whether mandatory of voluntary.
Next, what begins must end. Nothing stays the same forever. On this planet, in this dimension and framework, things begin and end. Or, well, things shift focus. What is of primary emotional focus, will not be so in 365 days more than likely, or 6 months, or 1 month or whatever. The same is true of emotional pain. The time leading up to the imminent decision of letting go is the worst, the moment of feels worse yet and then days that immediately follow are pretty bad. When it comes to letting go of people and pets, there is an energy separation that feels very physical. That intense energy separation period seems to be its worst for the first 3 days following the letting go. The rest of the next week, moments of feeling normal wash in like waves from time to time in increasing intensity. The next week after that is the same. Emotional moments and more normal feeling moments come. The pain starts to lose intensity at times and you start to have more blocks of time where you feel normal again. As you continue to engage in moving forward, the third week really starts to cement the new habits.
Now, you can step back and freeze yourself in these early stages if your push yourself into denial or bargaining, which the mind may want to do. But if you could just acknowledge these arising when they do whithout curling up into the fetal position when you encounter them, you can keep forward progress.
The year of firsts is really a thing. Key dates that first year will be difficult, as your mind wanders through memories or temporarily forgets that you had to let go, these moments can be painful. Acknowledge the pain and know, the level of pain is equal to the love. That thought really helps you to give yourself some compassion. Of course, it hurts, you loved. They go hand in hand.
Now, when the letting go is voluntary, extra care is definitely needed. Your mind could potentially dream up all sorts of scenarios where – you wouldn’t have to say good by if only this or that had happened. But backwards thinking, wishing or fantasizing cannot change today. You can also worry or doubt yourself into oblivion about whether or not you did the right thing but here is where a big dose of self-assurance and trust comes in. If you gauged a situation as any form of danger whether that be emotional, physical or financial, to the point you felt letting go was required, trust yourself. At the end of the day, the person you owe is yourself. Setting health boundaries means that sometimes you will need to let go of all that is not in alignment with what you need. There will be no shortage of challenge, judgement or harassment for boundaries and letting go when you felt you needed to. If you are concerned, get counseling to vet your thoughts and decisions before you invoke them. Then trust yourself to do the right thing by yourself. Your happiness and quality of life matter. That happiness and quality of life is something within your power to control. You cannot control other people. You may be able to influence them or their behavior, but you cannot change the reality of the exchange. If it is toxic or dangerous for you in any way, letting go may help you preserve you. Even though pain in such an instance is seemingly self-inflicted, it’s really no different than an involuntary letting go. You must work through the steps and if you can steer clear of second guessing yourself or entertaining the harassment of those who don’t agree with your decision, you will move on and eventually learn to live your life again despite the pain.
Pain isn’t the enemy. When I feel it, I’ll be honest…a part of me panics. I may actually have panic attacks of the kind where I lose consciousness as my system is overwhelmed with anxiety and emotion. It is really uncomfortable. I face the same reaction whether the letting go is voluntary or involuntary. Although it is definitely made worse by outside harassment after I have decided that the best thing for me is to let go. I know that if the decision to let go comes to my mind, I have already done all I can do, managed all that I can, considered all other options for me and must do what I feel is right. That is my right. Bottom line. Dealing with the pain, as I said is similar. Getting over heart break and the panicky feelings of the first days is hard. You cannot heal them completely, but I think “getting over” is a better way to put it. You learn to accept in time as you continue with your life, and you expand enough to do that. The pain may always be there, and you may even be reminded and feel that twinge of pain from time to time but sometimes letting go is the only thing that you can do. No matter what anyone else says, the way you deal with parting is individual and unique. My experience here may not be true for you. I’ve just observed the energetic aspect – that physical feeling of separation that is the hardest at first. That energy deficit does calm down and right itself within about 3 weeks. Emotional pain may take longer to work through, and each path is different there.
The most important thing that you can do for yourself when you are facing one of the many “letting go” periods of your life is to be really good to yourself. Honor the emotions you feel, acknowledge them, give yourself time to feel them. Emotional times aren’t necessarily times for action though. Keep in mind that when you are grieving, you are impaired when it comes to things like decisions. Rely on your circle to help you through any decisions that must be made during grieving. Any important decisions that can be put off while you are grieving, put them off for a time. Turn your focus inward kindly and gently. The things that have helped me most during times of grief were just the simple acts of daily living. Getting up in the morning when I don’t feel like it, showering, getting dressed, getting myself presentable as normal or eating, working and taking care of my home. Take it easy on yourself but do keep up with as many of your responsibilities as you can. Get outside if you can. Breathe in nature with your lungs, with your eyes, with your ears and with your heart. These things all help.
Letting go is part of life. As I said, everything changes – nothing ever stays the same. We must learn to roll with the punches, flow with the changes and some days this will take epic amounts of energy and sheer force of will. That’s okay. Just keep going. Even when it seems like life his horrible and dark, it won’t aways seem that way.
© 2023 J.L. Harter (photos/words)