A friend once asked me ‘but how do I let him go?’ after she broke up with her boyfriend. I tried to answer her question, but was at a lost myself. How do you let go? Not just of romantic relationships, but things you’ve been holding on to in general? First off, let’s talk about break ups. In this digital age, we sometimes break up with each other via text because we want to extract and receive as minimal pain as possible and yet we would not want the same to happen to us, so why do we do that to someone else? Don’t complain about someone breaking up with you over text if you’ve also done it. Instead, we should treat the person like how we want to be treated, because if we do, we can hold our heads up high after the separation and feel we did the best we could. The person may resent you anyways, but after a cooling off period, they will see that you treated them with respect and understand that. Break up shouldn’t be about minimizing immediate pain, but minimizing long-term guilt and self-doubt.
If you tell them ahead of time exactly what you intend to do if they do not change, reiterate these things when the time comes and there will be no surprises. Oftentimes, we carry what we feel and never let our partner know until it is too late. If you can tell them, you will have something to stand on when you are separating from them. And now comes the hard part-letting go. Another of my friend asked ‘did you really break up with them if you never let them go?’ Even if you intend to reunite with them, if you don’t give them a substantial amount of time to see their errors and change, you’ll be walking into the same relationship again. De ja vu all over again. But letting go is sometimes harder than leaving. You can physically leave, but you can’t cut off your feelings for them. So what do we do? We suppress these feelings and they come out in toxic ways such as overdrinking or over-sexualization. These things can be fine, but not if you are doing them to punish yourself. First off, just stay away.
Second, learn to love who you are by yourself. Love single you and relish in all that you are. Think about what happened in the relationship and what you sacrificed. Beware of rose-colored glasses as once you break up with them, for you only think of the good things that happened. Keep a list of all the bad things that happened and once you start to romanticize the past again, break out this list and remind yourself of why you broke up. Oh, yeah, that bastard made me walk two miles home one time! Yeah, I kinda forgot about them when I was busy reminiscing about our happy times. Talk through your feelings because it is healthy. One thing I realized is that I was holding out for the person he could be one day when I realized I wasn’t with that person. I was with the person he was today, not one day, and I deserved better than that. Oftentimes, we live in the what-ifs of our relationships and don’t realize that these things are intangible. Lasso yourself back to reality with coming to terms with who your partner really is. They may change into the person you wanted them to, but it is only because they left you and were forced to change. You will have missed out on that person, but if you stayed, that wasn’t the person they were going to be. Is that something you deserve?
Thirdly, as with any trauma that you hold on to, admit what you’re feeling. Tell the world that it hurt like a bitch and you never really fully recovered. It’s okay to admit that you need help and it shattered you. We are taught to be so strong all the time that we never think that we should admit to being weak, so we just hold it in and let it consume us from the inside. Once you acknowledge the trauma and the hurt you went through, give yourself time to grieve. Unfortunately, when someone close to us dies or we break up with them, we can never have closure, so we have this wound that continues to fester. Write a letter to them expressing your feelings and how you were affected and then leave it somewhere. You won’t believe what this can do for you emotionally. The hardest part can be acknowledging the pain, but once you do and talk about it, you can really look back and see what you had to accomplish to reach where you are today. When you see that, be proud of who you are and what you’ve done. Know that you shouldn’t beat yourself up for taking longer than others to resolve these issues. It doesn’t matter how long it took you to learn the lesson as long as the lesson is learned. This is your journey and you are the one who can choose how you feel about it.