letting go

Lessons in Letting Go

If you had asked me a few years about what it means to “let go”, I would have told you I had it all figured out.
I had “let go” of an old job and life that didn’t fit, to pursue something adventurous and challenging. Moving to Europe and Thailand to teach English and just figure out life along theway definitely meant letting go of all things predictable and familiar

Yeah, I had the whole “letting go of certainty” thing down pretty well.

But it’s an entirely different story to let go an actual piece of ourselves.

Life was wild and free in Thailand, flowing easily under the sticky sun and swaying palms. Head over heels in a madly deep and intense relationship with my housemate, it was the first time I fully understood the term “falling” in love.

Our connection a thrilling ride, electrifying and filled with high highs and low lows. I adored the depth of love, the vulnerability and even the intense ups and downs as we traveled the world together – Thailand to Vietnam, Italy and Prague, Seattle and the California coast.

The emotional ride mirroring the global one was all a part of feeling so much, experiencing so much – rich, colorful, vibrant – and bonded us inextricably.

But ultimately, as I funneled all my energy into our roller coaster life together, I lost touch with myself. My goals and dreams became clouded over by “the relationship” and even though we loved each other deeply, trying to keep us together through the low times wore down my spirit.

Traveling to Bali last year for a yoga festival, something shook deep inside of me. My innermost truth came out, and my world had to change completely.

Leaving that person was nearly the hardest thing I’d ever done, but my intuition said I had to walk away, to go inward and know myself fully again, in order to go outwards and create the space to grow and cultivate my dreams, allowing them to blossom without inhibition.

I wish I could say I swept up the pieces and was strong and healed right away – or even in a reasonable amount of time – but this is not the case. To make a long story short, it took me exactly one year for my heart to fully release the past – accept that it’s played its role – and step fully into the inevitable (and wonderful) transformation of the present.

I know what it means to feel so incredibly attached to something that you just want to clasp your hands around it forever and never let go. I know because when I was first asked to write this post several months ago, I thought I had released the past. But I was kidding myself.

I was still holding onto that life preserver, refusing to finish the process that had begun. Our experience together was a catalyst for my shedding an old shell of a past self. 

Yet for so long after, I struggled to unfold my wings and fly away. I couldn’t see then, that I was keeping myself as a butterfly in an old, half-broken cocoon shell. There was too much temptation to stay in this place, with the full range of feelings and experiences. 

With depth of experience comes wisdom, and often heartache. We know more, feel more, understand more on a deep, conscious and soul level.

And when we find that person who acts as a mirror for us, revealing our shadows and blind spots, it’s often hard to release them – because we’re changing on a fundamental level.  

Learning to embrace our light and our dark, yin and yang – we can’t go back to who we were before.  

Letting go of something which has changed us at our core this way is not as simple as leaving behind an old pair of shoes, or even an old job that no longer fits. It’s literally leaving behind a piece of ourselves.  

But what we need to realize, is that shedding these old parts of ourself is necessary for reaching our full state of growth. We literally cannot have both – but we may lingerin limbo, torn betweendiving forward into the unknown, or freezing with fear and hiding back away in the cocoon of safety.     

The limbo state is painful, inhibiting our growth and clashing our head with our heart, waging a tumultuous inner battle that can last for as long as we allow it.   And yet, we cling to this notion that the connection or catalyst which shifted things so profoundly for us in the past, needs to stay in our present.  

Because who will throw us a life raft if we’re not strong enough to make the journey on our own yet?    Who will catch us if we go to spread our wings and fall flat on our face? It’s terrifying – not to have some bright-lit neon sign flashing at us, saying “you’re strong enough now, you’re ready!”  

But you will be. That’s the thing.   Just knowing that you need to fly – means you’re ready to soar.   But it can’t happen while clinging to the earth.   To that last, gnawingly familiar piece of history.  

To that past version of yourself.   I read a wonderful, simple quote recently, which reads: “Closure is not something you find. It’s something you do.”  

Letting go isn’t something that happens with time.

You’re not going to fall out of your cocoon and magically soar your way up to the stars.  

So take a moment.

Inhale. Exhale.

Gather your heart, close your eyes, and send one last blessing of love and gratitude to that catalyst for change in your life.  

Smile. Your wings are ready. It’s all sky from here.

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