Relationships Change, so I Learn to Let Go
Life is amazing and beautiful and definitely a gift. Sometimes it’s also the hardest thing on the face of the planet. A truth I have learned so deeply in the past 4 years is that the time we spend in each others lives always comes to an end. Lives change and it’s these changes that change everything. People move on from us and we move on from people.
Sometimes you outgrow each other.
Sometimes they meet someone that their heart loves and they get married.
Sometimes they move away to chase dreams.
Sometimes they have children and their priorities shift.
This realization of change in relationships, that I have finally been able to put into words, is an emotional one for me. My underlying struggle in life is the fear of being forgotten and abandoned. To know that I have relationships with people and one day those relationships will end for one reason or another causes my breath to quicken, my anxiety to skyrocket and my voice to quiver. I turn into a panicky 5 year old version of me. The one whose parents just got divorced and rocked my foundation of safety and security. In my rational adult mind, I know that I am fine. I know I am strong and resilient and I have more love around me than I can fathom most days, but the little girl in me gets so stricken with terror that she cannot breath.
It is through the lens of this fear that I have been known to destroy relationships. I have held on so tight that I have literally drained the life out of them. Sometimes I have put my defenses up so fast and so tall that no one can break through. Other times I have in an instant turned my back and walked away because if I leave first, you can’t hurt me. All of these are completely irrational… I have made a note of that… Twice.
My desire to heal this irrational fear and painful hurt has led me down a path of beautiful realizations that have eased my soul.
In the moments of pure anxiety and sheer panic, I take a moment and I close my eyes. I take a deep breath that fills my belly and I exhale. I picture 5 year old me. I kneel down in front of her, my eyes meeting hers, and take her little face in my hands and I tell her that she is ok. She is safe and she is loved and she doesn’t have to be fearful anymore. That might sound sound like a batsh!t crazy thing to do, but know what- it works. If we look at the psychology of being human, a lot of our irrational fears come from our 4, 5 and 6 year old selves. I urge you to find the root of your fears and then conjure up what you would tell your younger self. You might just find a path to healing.
In the moments I am fearful of relationships ending and changing, I begin to list my gratitudes. It usually looks something like this:
I am grateful for their role in my life because…
I am grateful our paths crossed because…
I am grateful they taught me…
I keep going until the fear begins to lift and peace fills the void. Scientifically there are so many studies that show gratitude increases sleep, physical health, mental health and even self-esteem. Take a minute next time you are in a funk and start listing your gratitudes. It will change your thought process and bring you to a place of peace.
In the moments when I miss them so much my heart literally aches, I pray. When I miss someone it’s my heart reminding me that I love them. In these moments there is nothing I can do except pray. I can’t make the feeling go away no matter how hard I mindfully will-it to leave. This feeling of missing people used to torment me and I would do anything to mask the feeling. Don’t get me wrong, this is still the worst feeling in the world for my sweet soul that just wants to be connected to people but I don’t have to be fearful of the feeling anymore. These days, I acknowledge it, I embrace it and I feel it… Then I can send up a million prayers to Heaven and let God fill that void. He gave me the ability to love others, surely he can heal the hurt when that person isn’t in my life like they used to be. Psalm 62:8 reminds me to trust in God and pour out my heart to him. Genesis 31:49 is a prayer that I offer up regularly “may the Lord keep watch between you and me while we are away from each other.” It gives me peace to know a person may not be near me now but God has it handled and he will protect them. Romans 8:28 is the ultimate peace trump card- “God works all things for good for those who love Him.” God works everything for good- from the great moments in life to the trials and the heartache. God brings us together in relationship with people, when those relationships change, God works it for good. Knowing this doesn’t make it any easier but it does make it fathomable to be able to get through the sadness of missing someone.
When relationships change and I have to learn to let go, I’ve taken the pain of panic and anxiety and turned it into healing breaths full of gratitude and prayer. We look at each others lives and we see perfection because that’s all the Facebook and Instagram highlight reels show… But beneath the surface, sometimes not that deep, are fears. My greatest fear is being forgotten and abandoned and relationships changing and ending only magnifies this fear. It is only through embracing this that I can begin to stare that fear in the face and heal it.
One breath at a time.
One declaration of gratitude at a time.
One prayer at a time.
The healing comes.
Cheers to Letting Go, Dez