Adam Greenfield’s “Breathe Deep and Let Go of Things”
Relationships truly are the sum of our lives. We create circles of friends, neighbors, family, strangers, pets, nature, ideas, and ultimately ourselves. With all the practice that we have with relationships throughout our lives, you would think that we would be experts at having them and doing them well, handling issues and avoiding problems. Yet, we all seem to have some people and situations in our lives that we find difficult. This is not to say we are never difficult. I have had many opportunities to muddle through turmoil. I have experienced and created as much as the next person and, so far, have been able to trundle my way through the ups and downs of this life I have been tending. So along the way I have learned that relationships, as in life, don’t always turn out just the way I want.
Recently, I have been experiencing a situation in which I don’t see a friendly way through. I see myself as someone willing to work things out, look for the win win, find compromises, etc. I don’t just think of myself this way, I have also asked trusted people close to me, how they see me, because I know I have my one-sided perspective and I don’t always see myself fully. And while my trusted people are happy to point out my flaws, they also tell me that they see me as someone who sincerely tries to find the middle ground in relationship situations.
What I also know, is that there are people in the world who will only feel good about you, as long as you bend to their perspective. They are not interested in seeing how they contribute to an issue. They really want you to know that they are mad at you, and it’s your fault, and unless you admit to this, and ‘show’ them that you understand their ‘rightness,’ the situation won’t ever get to a place where it feels emotionally comfortable. And, even that might not be enough. In most situations I have been able to acknowledge my own part, and apologize when my intentions were quite different from my impact. Unintentional impact can still hurt another person. I am truly sorry for hurting someones feelings, even though I was trying to do something quite different. Still, in some situations you cannot own your own issues or your part in the disagreement enough for the other person, they want more, they want it to be one-sided, all your fault. They point to things that were said, using contexts that weren’t intended, often rigid, black and white ideas of right and wrong. And, no matter how much you try to hear them, and share your perspective, they are not interested in hearing you, just in being heard. Often even when you are trying hard to hear them, they still say you are not listening. It’s hard work, exhausting.
For most of us, this is a bit of a ‘crazy maker.’ If we care, even a little, about the relationship, we want to find the middle ground. We want to hear and be heard. We want some sort of closure that feels like we can walk away with respect or kindness, agree to disagree and still have a friendliness. Yet, this is not always possible. And, when we find ourselves in one of these endings, we often struggle with self doubt, and hopefulness that we can find a way to resolve the situation. Sometimes we have to instead learn to ‘let go.’ In some belief systems they say, “Let Go and Let God,” or we see powerful quotes by great orators who mimic our struggle, such as Frank Herbert’s, “There are no endings, just places where you stop the story,” and one of my favorites, “It is always important to know when something has reached its end. Closing circles, shutting doors, finishing chapters, it doesn’t matter what we call it; what matters is to leave in the past, those moments in life that are over.” by Paulo Coelho.
Even if it doesn’t feel finished, sometimes we have to just let go and close the circle. Allowing someone to see you in the worst light, and still let go with love, let go with forgiveness for our part, let go with forgiveness for the other parties part. I believe that the process of letting go is a powerful way through the sad feelings or angry ones. Letting go of the attachment about how people see us. Letting go of what they say about us. Letting go of the ‘crazy maker’ so that we can continue with our story. For me the big take away, and I have learned this lesson a few times in my life so it feels easier this time, is that there are places when my sense of self is so different from someone else’s sense of me that the two ideas of me are too incompatible to continue in any sort of close proximity. If I’ve been honest with myself, gotten feedback from those I trust, looked at my part of the situation, attempted to repair the hurts, but still been met with rigid, angry judgement, then I have to let go for my own sanity. Grieve the loss, but let go of the idea that I can influence a more realistic idea of me, one that is a little closer to my own. And, really, what is lost when people don’t want the same thing? The only thing lost is an idea of the relationship, an idea that might have existed once, but needs to be released, because that old idea of the relationship is gone.
For my part, if I can do this, then I let go of the spinning of my mind. The wrangling to make reasonable, or rationalize, or over process my thoughts and feelings. I learn to just ‘be’ in this moment, uncomfortable though it is, until the next moment shows up. I do this over and over, through this moment and the next and the next. Until the moment that I am in, absorbs me fully, and my life circles on.