"In the process of letting go you will lose many things from the past, but you will find yourself. " – Deepak Chopra
I admit that this post is more of a gathering of random thoughts that won’t seem to stop bounding through my head like some sort of possessed pinball machine, so I feel that I must apologize in advance if there is a distinct lack of fluidity in the writing. To some, this may come off as being somewhat cocky of me to claim this about myself. However, even though others may read them, these thoughts are for me and therefore I don’t care. So, if you are still reading, here goes….
I realized, many years ago, that there is an aspect of my personality that is both a huge asset and perhaps my most fatal flaw. You see, I have this really amazing and nasty habit of loving people in spite of themselves, of seeing their potential, and of painfully wanting that to be their reality. There have been many times, perhaps even the majority of times, when this has proven to be a favorable character trait. Many relationships have been strengthened because of my deep desire to see others be who they were created to be, and I in turn have also been changed for the better through that process. It is a beautiful thing, to do life together, to let down the walls we long ago built and lean into the discomfort of vulnerability.
However, this is not always the case…and I have recently experienced one of the more challenging experiences of my life because of it. The hardest part about knowing who we are supposed to be is simply being that person. Once you catch a glimpse of what your life was made for, this terrifying wave of reality crashes over you and you have two choices: to continue down the path you are on, or to begin to venture into the unknown toward your destiny.
I would also argue that it is more terrifying once someone else sees that person that you are when the wall comes down, when your true self is exposed. The pretense with which daily life is lived suddenly is ripped away, and you are there-vulnerable, at their mercy. Suddenly someone can see you for who you truly are, without the mask that you so desperately fight to keep glued on.
But, perhaps the hardest thing of all, is being that other person who watches you walk (or even run) in the opposite direction of your true self. You watch in disbelief as this person you have come to know, and maybe even love, chooses to be someone that you have difficulty tolerating, let alone loving. Your heart breaks as you learn that many times, who we choose to be can very rapidly become who we are- and this person who you have had such hope for, have prayed for, and have cared for greater than you would care to admit suddenly vanishes.
Throughout this experience, I can’t help but wonder if this is how a parent may feel as they watch their child grow. You have hopes and dreams for this naive, beautiful creature. Hope of a life well lived, of few mistakes, and of great happiness. Yet, somewhere along the line, the child makes a wrong choice, or many, and you are desperate to help them find their way back home or even just back to themselves.
In both of these instances, I suppose three things must happen: you must let go, you have to keep hoping, and you had darn well better keep loving. I shall elaborate here:
1. Let. Go. This is a wretched process, so if anyone figures out the secret please let me know. I am horrible at letting go, absolutely horrible. My heart, for whatever reason, takes much longer to forget than my mind does. From what people tell me though, it has to happen.
2. Keep hoping. This may seem foolish, but I truly believe that deep down there is an innate desire in each of us to do good, to be good. I know that some would disagree, but this hope (however small it is on some days) is the only thing that makes me believe in humanity at all. Without hope for the future, the past would simply have been a waste of time and I refuse to believe that is true.
3. Keep loving. Perhaps even more than letting go, continuing to love someone who has wronged you or taken advantage of you is more difficult for me than trying to watch Mean Girls without quoting every other line. What I have learned, though, is that life and love are simply a continuous cycle of putting yourself out there and praying that it goes well. Sometimes, it does. Sometimes it doesn’t, though, and you feel that ache in your chest that you are sure could kill you if it weren’t psychosomatic. The pain will fade though, and eventually the high risk will yield (again) a high reward.
One day, many years from now, I will look back on this period of my life and realize that I did these three things. I will also realize that while I stand here, watching someone whom I care about choose a path of potential destruction, that there are people who are hoping for me, loving me, and waiting on me to find my way back as well…and for that I am already grateful.