Life is a Metaphor for Letting Go – HB

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There’s some really lame old saying about people coming and going from our lives. Only staying for a season and such. I won’t bother with putting it down in words here. But it’s about staying. And how not all people are meant to stay.

I am formed in long terms, commitments, never something short or anything in between, and so these sayings have always mystified me a little bit. The idea of someone important, a person who has held your secrets and you’ve been their brace to lean against – that they would simply slip out without much of a word was foreign to me. Now it’s not.

I didn’t even just watch it happen. I swallowed my pride and made the efforts. How about this? Okay, what about this day? You tell me what works! It felt doormatty, but sometimes you think the person is worth it. Which is why I will probably try again at some point when the time is right. Some people are worth it even after they’ve hurt you. (Sidenote: I’m not referring to the im toxic im slipping under kinda people.)

I suppose I spent a fair amount of time wondering why because nothing about a beautiful friendship disintegrating for zero substantial reasons made sense to me. It’s etched into my bones to show up yet I’m sure there’s times I missed the call to do so. It’s the most basic act, but I’ve learned it tends to mean the most. You don’t need all the right words, or to have a magic wand. You need to show up and be there as much as one person can for the good, bad, and inbetween. The flip side to this is that when someone does not show up for me I perhaps take the slight much more deeply than someone else. I maybe unfairly expect what I would give. Maybe it’s my age, maybe it’s just who I am. More likely it’s my oh so typical human ego expecting other people to value the same ideals that I do.

In the midst of turning this situation over in my mind more times than was probably necessary I was given more than several reminders to let go. Of the resentment. Anger. And the more precise hurt under the anger. Except these reminders were not so much of letting go, but of forgiveness so that I could let go. I remember a professor once stating that we do not like to forgive because it means giving up power over that person. There might have been something to that.

And the subtle pushes to let go were not definitively directed at solely the aforementioned situation. But instead poked at the still hot coals of several instances from over this last year. Instances in which people I’ve grown up respecting morphed into their true natures and showed me more than I cared to see. Instances in which people who are supposed speak kindly and lovingly to you spoke to me like I have never been spoken to in my life. Mind you, these were also opportunities to advocate for myself and firmly state that I don’t allow people to treat or speak to me in that way. (Thanks to my guru mistah DeeJay) Basically though, I had a lot of slow rolling anger and hurt somewhere deep, which I had quite successfully chosen to leave there because I didn’t think those people deserved for me to let it go. Because after all, they were not in the least genuinely sorry for what had happened.

And then I decided that I just didn’t want it anymore. I didn’t want to be responsible for all that hurt, anger, and darkness. I let it go because I don’t want those things to be synonymous with how I handle pain. The weight was never really mine to begin with anyway.

But in this I’ve learned. I’ve learned the truth of letting go so your own soul can rest easy. Of rebuilding a bridge someone else chose to burn. Of letting go but letting a different bridge remain charred and broken. Of knowing the peace of your own conscience resting calmly and being okay with not knowing whether someone will choose you back. These things I’ve learned.

Holding On & Letting Go

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Deadlines knocking with their loud abrasive sound and begging to be remembered.The multiple inboxes with their growing number in the tiny red bubble. The text messages read but left unanswered. Projects growing dust, when just weeks before you had so diligently kept ahead. Emotional outbursts from seemingly everyone have left you drained, tired, and without motivation. Frankly, you’re wondering how you will do this for a full time job as an empath who tries desperately to not take on other’s emotions, but sometimes they’re strong enough you can’t shake them. You’re sleeping, but no, you’re not rested. Your dedication to working out three times a week, which you were so proud of was left behind with that wicked virus, which put you under the blankets for three whole days and then two weeks of recovery. Actually, to be honest it’s still lingering in coughs and sniffles. Did I mention there’s a bruise on your forehead that is extremely attractive? And then you drift to the fact that next year you will be balancing all of the same things except with multiple graduate level classes and everything grows a little foggy around the edges.

Somebody tell me I’m not the only one.

The only one snatching and stretching outreached fingers at passing time to try and squeeze a little more out of it. As if you could take hold of the watch wrapped around your tiny wrist and wind back the little knobs to find reprieve. Just a few more hours with a wee burst of energy and you could catch up really, you could.

Today I planned to get up early; attack this pile up of I’m behind on everything, and take over the world like we do every day Pinky. Except for the first time in my life I slept straight through my alarm. Sure, I sleep with earplugs, but I still hear every last noise around me. Thanks genetics for my super sonic hearing (you know who you are, mother). I woke up at 9:30, which is you know, late for me, and felt like I was already behind on the first day I’ve had in weeks to get back on my feet.

But now I’m sitting here and I’ve gotten through the inbox, which had grown fangs and claws, and I’ve cleaned up some drafts, which are due to other sites. I’m nowhere near done, but I’ve been thinking. I created my timelines on writing projects such as my book to benefit ME. They weren’t supposed to hold me captive and plunge my head under water, when the rest of life kept me from giving them their blood money. And hell, what kind of crap am I going to produce if it’s not coming from my core, which is so necessary to producing words with life. So I’m taking a cue from some friends, and trusting that rerouting my timeline to create the story I wanted to all along is worth the pain of letting go of a June deadline.

But how often do we do this? Cling fiercely to something, which was meant to help us, but is now hindering us all in the name of productivity or whatever else is your vice. We cling to past loves, we grab hold of new people that act like last year’s heartbreak, we see cycles, but don’t understand why. We stay in friendships, which leave us muddied from playing the doormat. We stuff down words and hurts because we are convicted this makes us stronger than the rest. We can all fill in the blank for something we instinctively grasp for, or maybe you can’t because it’s unconscious and all you know is something isn’t working.

What I do know? This leaves us tired and worn and fraying around our edges. My favorite writer, Hannah Brencher, wrote something the other day and it’s stayed with me. And I can’t find the post (my inbox has teeth, remember?) so I apologize for the paraphrase: life is just a metaphor for letting go. What do you need to let go of? A person? Old hurts that keep ripping you open over and over? Unrealistic ideals? I bet it’s nipping at you right now and you don’t want to look it in the eye. Because we all know the ripping of letting go. How bittersweet the hurt is and the hangover of knowing you can’t hold the thing you’ve lost any longer. Let it fall anyways.

Let it fall like rain on a hot summer day.

Because so often we let go only to pick things back up right before we’ve finally made a clean break. You’ve been pushing and tearing through the all the brush only to turn around, when if you had just kept going the woods cleared a little ways ahead. We turn around because it’s familiar. Because we say we can’t help it. Because dropping everything holding us back is scary and hard and takes us new places. But what if you made it through? Through the woods and into the clearing where you can finally see.

What would you do there and how would you feel?

Finally Clean

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photo credit: Corey Templeton via photopin cc

 

Jamming a hat over untamed curls in a late attempt to maintain some semblance of warmth, she moved through the crowded street to finally enter an old wooden door into a place her boots used to frequent all too often.

She was greeted with a steaming cup of coffee, no frills just black. She held the cup up in thanks with a small smile to the old waitress and slid into her favorite booth. Glancing out the already fogged window, her thoughts flitted to how this place had felt like home not so long ago.

Uncapping a thin marker, and settling back into the booth, she planted herself firmly in that moment and began to write.

Dear … Well hello I guess,

I ended up here after all. The corner booth’s still cracked, and I bet the scuffs won’t ever come off the wall from these old boots. Not that you were wondering.

Pausing with the marker mid air, she decided to keep writing.

I needed to sit in the place where we always traced ourselves back to the start. And sure enough, between the smells drifting past and the warmth of the coffee between my fingers it’s as if I’m pulled right back into the deep of us.

Back to when coffee wasn’t just some morning drink made for all of us sleep deprived ones. It was you. And it was me. Sitting all wrapped up in words and dreams about all of the tomorrows we thought were already on their way.

If life has been good, you’ll have had no reason to open this letter from a girl whose name never falls from your lips. But I had to ask. Where did you go? No, I know your address for that new place five hundred miles away from here and me. But really, where did you go? The night the light disappeared from those eyes made of all the fractals of the bluest ice. I always swore they could go right through me.

I mean I’m good now. You know that right? Surely someone told you. But I’ve still gotta know. It’s the question etched into all my sleepless nights. Out of all our nights tucked away in this old black booth with coffees filled to the brim and hearts bleeding, why that night?

I saw you, you know. I was already here. Two coffees and a brownie, just waiting. I saw you walk up to the door hands shoved deep into dark pockets, and then a slight pause as your fingers hovered over the brassy knob. In that moment, the light turned black and your footsteps fell away.

I sat completely still, hoping you just forgot something, but I already knew. The deep sinking feeling moving from my throat down into my gut said what my mind couldn’t yet spell out. You were gone.

No amount of tears or carefully crafted win you back kind of words could fix this. There was a permanence in the air my heart didn’t want to breathe.

The coffee shop noise morphed into a dull buzz of wordless voices and I felt all my limbs grow hot as I fumbled in shock. It was my fault, all of it. I heard every insecurity resound with a chorus of you’re too much child, don’t you know you’ll always be too much? And start over? Girl, you couldn’t get it right this time, what makes you think next will be any different? Without any response to my own self, I numbly made my feet shuffle up and out the door. That was months ago.

But today, I’m sitting here, drinking my coffee in peace and I honestly hope to find you well. I hope whatever stole the glaringly beautiful ice from your eyes and turned them to shadows brought you where you were meant to be. That maybe you aren’t still running. We both know that’s what you did.

When you took off, I stayed still. I sat and listened to the sound of my own self shattering only to watch roots grow deep as the fragments fell underground and came up to life. And let me tell you, it’s pretty damn spectacular what grew up out of this.

No one could have known something that started so beautiful, even if it was just beautiful lies, could end so swiftly. Wordlessly even. The remnants of what was scattered throughout my life. Tell me, did you find them in yours too? Perhaps not, you always could remove yourself so easily from all the entanglements of people. Still, I can’t help but hope one day you find a love you can’t so easily slip away from. That shocks you out of the lie, which says you’re better off alone.

That one day you’ll look up to find yourself spending all your Sundays reading books across from her like this is all you’ve ever known.

If you find this, it means you’re here. I don’t know why your worn out soles carried you back, but stay awhile. After all, we both know how good this coffee is. Me? Well, this is my last time sitting here in this old booth. Tomorrow I’m gone and I just stopped to say goodbye.

Wherever you went, I hope you found yourself there.

Me.

Folding the pages up and into the envelope, she shoved the letter deep into the crack of the old booth knowing if he ever came he’d find it. Swallowing the last dregs of her coffee, she stood and slapped down a five dollar bill. Glancing around, she grinned beneath her curls, she was finally clean.

Life on Pause

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Life seemed to be an old cassette player with the pause and fast forward buttons both clicked down and vying for the silvery ribbon to comply. The ribbon pulled tight from the strain of being held in place while trying to move forward.

Sighs and eye rolls commanded her vernacular these days as the facebook feed filled with engagements, babies, and ecstatic twenty somethings landing their dream jobs. Her dreams had never been threaded together with the tales of true love and princes. The only castles she had ever dreamed of were the gothic ivory towers sprinkling the landscape of all the best schools. But watching your closest friends traipse down the aisle one by one as you stand by with a smile and a bouquet can produce its own special kind of microscopic self analysis. Throw in a graduation with a map entitled ”All Signs Point to Lost” and a good old fashioned heartbreaking, and well to be frank – it’s lonely.

Yes, this is quite the new kind of lonely. The marathon of bad tv shows and too many cups of tea. Text messages without real answers and friends who have no clue what it is to be left a chapter behind, while the words of their lives spill onto a fresh page.

The kind of lonely all the books and Netflix binges can’t even begin to drown out. The deep roots of the feeling simply growing and settling all around her into the background and waiting for her to be still enough to feel the air weighted down around her. The poignant combination of feeling purposeless and utterly devoid of direction after what is supposed to be the great send off into the ever fabled real world. And of course, the last ripping motion along the seams of the relationships holding her close: watching not only the love in her life, but also the loves she called her best friends walk out all at once.

The joy of their new beginnings casted an even deeper shadow on the slow creeping despair of finding her life nowhere near where she thought it would be. Futile anxious scrambling to find the quickest route from A to B. The pain of finding herself without a single person who can say “me too.” The bleakness of wondering why no one seemed to grasp the consuming nature of where she found herself. And the sad acknowledgment that maybe they didn’t want to – after all, it is always easier to skim our eyes over another’s pain than to lock eyes and lend our hearts to the matter.

Oh and this is the depth of it isn’t it? Believing that because no one can sit with you right now means that no one ever will. That no good can come from being left to sit in all the broken pieces without even the faintest clue of what to do or where to go.

Oh my friend, to be lost is quite the adventure, but to be lost and alone? This. This takes heart and it will shape your soul as you ponder and pour over all the cracked and broken fragments of a life that never lived surrounding you. And no one can ever take away the lessons you will learn sitting with no one but yourself and god.

It won’t always be this way. But for now as you click and scroll through the masses of happy pictures and watch another friend intertwine their life to their love, I’m going to tell you the oddest of things. But grieve. Grieve the loss of the life you thought you would have. Grieve the loss of your friendships, as you knew them. Tell yourself that you are more than justified in grieving the loss of all these beautiful things. The upward swelling and crashing of your grief realized is so necessary to where you are. Life has its way of redeeming the beaten down shards making the whole of us, but for now – sit. Grieving the loss of what was and also what never even had the chance to be, this will let your heart find a new song. A song composed to the notes and lyrics of a path all your own.

From This Chair

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She stared up at the ceiling and glanced his way. Dark hair perfectly mussed and chest falling in even sleep filled breaths. Exhaling she wondered how many times she could lie there in the dark hoping he would miss her just enough to break down at her feet like some overdramatic lead role. Cry for all the heartwrenching divisions that now made up her insides and plead temporary insanity between jagged breaths as he apologized.

She turned from the thought and crept out from under his blankets and curled up in his favorite overstuffed reading chair. The old worn out brown leather one that she could remember them both falling into in a fit of laughter and tangled limbs. Legs all balled up underneath her, she let herself think of this as him just going through a phase. I mean come on everyone has at least one friend who dated the guy who just needed some “time” and then came back like some brand new spiffy version of himself. Sorry baby, I just got lost. 

Or maybe he meant it when he said our places were at different ends of the earth, and to go find someone who could follow the same winding path as her own. Either way, the heartbreak had ripped and tore at her heart until the threads that were left pulled her back to this place.

The familiar ding of her phone broke her out of her nostalgic reverie, and the sound left her with mixed excitement and heaviness as optimism and reality crashed head on over a text message. Never mind that he was one room over, her automatic response to the ding was to expect his name lit up across her screen.

Welcome to twentysomething heartbreak, where your phone can take you as high as it can low.

Swiping the text away, she lamented how the nights seemed filled with too much time and how afraid she was to call friends she had ignored for so long. Not to mention she was half convinced they would think she was crazy to carry on waiting and wishing for a person who oh so detachedly and politely set her free. But then the other waning voice offered the hollow comfort she longed for that yes, this really was just a phase of his.

Thoughts drifting as the night shifted in its darkness she wondered if every potential new person in her life would just be a poor pale comparison to the man sighing in his sleep across the hall. A cardboard cut out of the real flesh and life she had loved. If dates would be filled with feigned interest and mental comparisons of all the ways he is not him. An odd threesome of a date that would be. A ghost in the empty chair. A shadow of a voice whispering all the old things…

Why should she chase the unraveling strands of attachment, when the other end is quite possibly frayed to bits or even at worst, already cut to the quick as if there isn’t even a shred of hope dangling. Maybe false hope was better than none. In the truest spots of herself though, she knew only the hardest of truths could let her move forward.

Or maybe, maybe breakups are one of the worst experiences we as humans can face.

A death where everyone else can still love, touch, and hear the voice of the one we have lost. The oddest form of torture. To love what we feel is so fully and truly only to have this pulled out from underneath us with a quick note of, “This never could have worked forever… you know that right, baby? ” A quick punch to the gut, that’s what those words are.

All of us running around with hearts full of edges and scars never knowing when the next crack might set in. But sitting there in the chair of a man who had shattered all notions of their forever she knew that one day she would accept the pain and the heartbreak in all its gory notoriety. Let the dark garb of love’s death be her wardrobe and allow it to change her from the inside out.

But she pictured herself, a year, two years, from now looking back to this same overstuffed chair and wondered what she would see. Would she see a girl who turned back again and again to the source of her pain? A girl who never left this chair. A girl running to the edges of the earth to avoid the ache of it all? Or one brave enough to take the hands of whoever else was beside her and just sit with the ache day after day until it slowly fell off in bits and pieces leaving a sparkling trail of hope in her wake. Hope for every other brave soul who must face this dark night tucked into a ball in the armchair of someone they can’t let go.