by Madeline Laughs
Throughout our lifetimes we will make hundreds of thousands of human connections. These relationships could be friends, lovers, family, even neighbors. Not all of them will work out for any number of reasons. Some of them lack the steam to make it for any amount of distance. Others can start out doomed, or be doomed in the middle. For whatever reasons, some relationships just get broken and can’t be fixed.
The good news is that no matter who is leaving, whatever painful hurt it shatters your heart with, this too shall pass before you know it as long as you take care with how you manage this new break in your life. There are no rules to follow or guidelines to read. Some things aren’t meant for this lifetime and need to be let go.
What people fail to do when this happens in their life is to let go with love.
A friend told me recently that he had a terrible divorce. He tried to be nice throughout the entire process, but the soon to be ex-wife was uncooperative at every turn. She ended up suing him and winning over a dozen different court battles until he was penniless and had no say in the custody of his child. He didn’t hate her when the process started, he just didn’t want to be married to her anymore. But now, he hates her. The mere mention of her name sends him into a tailspin of bad memories and painful reminders of how far behind her actions set his own life.
There was some important business going on here that neither party took the time, or had the inclination because of the toxic feelings being swapped, to recognize.
The act of leaving is never widely accepted. Whether you are leaving a spouse or just a friend, there will be hard feelings. The person being left, that has no desire to participate in the disconnection, will fight to keep the relationship from ending. The destruction left in the wake of this misguided and very damaged individual can be hard terrain to traverse for the person hellbent on taking the path out at all costs.
When I pointed out to him that the method to her madness was not letting him go because she wanted him to love her, he quoted from Of Mice and Men about how Lennie eventually killed his pet mouse because he loved it to death. That was how trapped he felt.
The truth behind the drama is really quite simple. In order to keep him engaged and attached to her in some way, she pursued him with the only weapon she felt would work. She sued him. This kept him in her life. Never mind that the attachment was dysfunctional, it satisfied a need deep within her at the time. Each lawsuit she won was another point in her favor that he was indeed a bad man for leaving her. The law just proved it so why shouldn’t his friends and family believe her now? By building herself up through litigious means she reinforced the idea that she was a prize and he was a loser.
What would have happened if she had been honest with him? How would both of their lives turned out differently is she had admitted that she loved him to distraction and didn’t want him to leave her?
What if she had just allowed him to go with love?
After all, she loved him enough to marry him, to have his children, to make a home for him and nurture him. What happened that made this love go away? Or did it go away at all? When does love turn into this twisted, ugly monster that makes people tear each other apart when they separate?
In every relationship that I have felt the need to detach from, I have worked hard to let it go with love. As I have matured and aged I found that letting people go in anger hurt me just as much, and sometimes more, in the long run. I don’t like hurting myself. Do you? So why do it to yourself?
There is this wonderful scene in the movie Eat, Pray, Love. The two main characters are on a rooftop in India and they are talking about why they have traveled this far to find peace. The man is there to make peace with his past as a drunk that lost his family and almost killed his son. The woman is there to recover from her divorce. She left her husband and he is very angry and fighting her every step of the way.
The man tells her to stay on the rooftop until she makes peace with herself because the end of the marriage wasn’t the end of everything. Then the camera shows the couple dancing together as they did when they were married and they begin to speak:
Liz: I did love you, Stephen.
Stephen: I know. But I still love you.
Liz: So, love me.
Stephen: But I miss you.
Liz: So, miss me. Send me love and light every time you think of me… Then drop it. It won’t last forever. Nothing does.
So true. So simple. So easy. Love them if you still do. Miss them if you still do. And when you think of them, remember the good times. Send them love and light and then let them go. Your grief will not last forever. She is right about that. Nothing lasts forever.
The next time you find yourself faced with a decision about hanging on to a relationship that is already finished, think about how much better you’ll feel if you let it go with love.