Letting Go and Facing Forward™

There are therapists and dating experts who teach those of us who are still entangled, bound, wrapped up in and held by a lover who is no longer a happy part of our lives, how to let go.

It is said that you can't enter a new relationship while you're still tied to the old. That you must release this person to leave room in your life and your heart for your true soulmate to come on in.

It's a fact that our bodies and hearts get connected to those we love and have sex with. It's chemical, and spiritual, and emotional, and it doesn't just go away because we say goodbye. And it's true that every time we have the same thought about that goodbye, we experience the same feeling we felt when it happened.

And yet, it's romantic. Lost love is romantic. Pining is romantic. Yeats and Keats and Lord Byron are romantic. Singing about love isn't as romantic as singing about the love that got away. Longing makes me feel alive. It taps into my imagination and takes me to a place of romance and lust and passion that this daily life of recycling, cleaning the kitchen, working and cuddling don't even graze. And it taps into my pain. What is it about pain that feels so, well – romantic?

Many of us have pain and love hooked up in such a way that easy-going men don't feel romantic to us. Nice men who don't intend to hurt us feel like old shoes. The pointy, spindly ones that'll kill our backs and crunch our toes are the shoes and the men we want. Even while we're wearing running shoes, we're dreaming of stilettos. And we fault men for thinking like this.

Letting go, to me, is a moment by moment act and triumph of courage. Not just letting go of a person, but of a state of mind, a thought of pain that leads to a feeling of pain that then feels so powerful, passionate, poetic and sexy that it trumps everything else around.

Letting go of a person is much easier than letting go of pain. Because if I once let go of the pain of missing someone, anyone, I would feel not just free – but alone. I would come face to face with my serious belief that I will always be alone if I don't hold on. To that man, that thought, that job, that routine. And to hold on, I have to, literally, hold on. Hold on to any man who comes into my space. Hold on to a plan. Hold on to hope. The pain, the plan, the hope fills the void if the man can't.

What if you could let go of the belief that you'll be alone because no one's there just yet? What if you could believe he's there, if only you could see him through the fog of poems, pain, and stilettos? What if, instead of hope, we could operate on faith? What if, instead of hoping we'll meet Mr. Right, or the man we're married to will suddenly turn into Mr. Right, we could simply trust that he's there, if only we'd consider the possibility that he doesn't look the way we thought he should – that instead of bringing pain, longing, holding on, and stilettos, he'd show up with roses, running shoes, and the absolute knowledge that you're the one for him. He might be right.

How to do it? If you were working toward releasing a person who was once loving you and now is not, you would cut off contact, focus on yourself, and practice becoming aware of how your thoughts continually float back to him and the pain of the breakup. You would practice gently redirecting those thoughts – away from him and pain and toward yourself and your future. What if, in the same way, you could release the past altogether? And by the past, I mean the moment that just passed. The one that will never be again, but which left traces of emotional, spiritual and physical connection behind. The one that drags us, longing, pining and in stilettos, back to live it all over again. Over and over.

So turn around. Put your back to the moment that just passed. Use your imagination. Put your back to the person who is no longer loving you. Put your back to the pain, the longing, the holding on. Face out. Face where you want to be. Is it a mountain? A lake? A beach? Who are you with? Yourself, your new, ideal, perfect, fabulously loving lover, a friend? What is it you actually see for yourself in this new direction?

Keep your back turned to the pain, and your face to what you see ahead. Step out. Literally, now, take a step forward. Allow your future to pull on you. Walk up the mountain. Wander onto the beach. Stare in wonder at the sunset. If you can imagine it, you can make it up any way you want. If it feels scary, you can step out slowly and get used to it. If you can keep facing forward and keep stepping forward, you can change your thoughts, change your feelings, change your reality.

If you find yourself at the market, or Starbucks, or the theater, alone and miserable, or with someone you're indifferent to, turn around from that thought. Literally spin 180 degrees and look elsewhere. There will be something new there. Something good will happen. Someone new will step into frame. The person you're with will become more of a real person and less of a poor substitute. Your life will go forward.

Surrender to faith in yourself. Surrender to the impossibility of knowing what's around every corner. Surrender, not to longing, but to the pleasurable possibilities of what's around the corner. Surrender to this idea: Romance is wonderful, love is not painful, and shoes can look good and feel good too. Stilettos are overrated.€™t

by Rori Gwynne

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