Have you ever been haunted by the loss of a friend, love, job, family member….a thought or feeling that settles into your aching heart and shadows the corner of your mind. Loss, more than any other emotion, tends to define the mental health of the human who experiences it’s tight grip. Coming in unexpected yet predictable stages, the experience of loss in relationships often leads men and women to react in unhealthy patterns. What does that look like? The word most commonly used in American vernacular is “rebound.” Unfortunately, this is more common than the lovelorn would like to admit.
Love will always have an echo of loss running like a cord through it’s midst. I recently had that opportunity to see into the soul of a friend who, with his normally tough guard let down for a few moments, considered the cost of his relationships, and what that meant for his accumulated pain. That pain keeps him at a distance from everyone – including me. I’m tired of chasing down the remnants of our friendship – and so I choose to let this part of my life go and allow contentment to come to me through meditation of peace and grace. I wish him love – but I cannot provide them for him. (Read Elizabeth Gilbert quote below). It is that pain in people that fuels them to addictions, to new heights of accomplishments, to become more and less…and pain that will cost you your future, your relationships, your connection with faith and peace, all at the same time. Like most things, pain has worth and detriment.
It Can’t Rain All The Time….
There is this simple refrain in the first days of loneliness that trip across the mind and make you wonder if you will make it through. With tears strangling your throat closed, your mind frozen in horror, your stomach in knots, there is a single thought echoing in your head…it goes something like this:
“I will never get any better….there is no way out of this. I will be broken for the rest of my life….”
In some ways, you’re right. I know that I will never be the same after the roller coaster of the past year in my own life, in friendships lost and found, in love changed and matured….you are different. You’ll always be more mature, more capable of understanding, maybe a little more wise. Loss comes in many forms…loss of a loved one to the simply the end of a relationship. And then it happened…you realized that it can’t rain all the time. The world continued to spin, the seasons changed, you began to feel feelings of breath, hunger, pain, love, even happiness. It was more than likely a feeling that you will never forget, the second you realized that a full minute has gone past and you have not physically or mentally focused on the loss. You survived, and in some ways, you thrived. Is it possible that you might find yourself in a place of launching into new life, new possibility? It is.
Knowing How to Let Go
You have been to the depths of emotion if you’ve lost love and began to recover. In the time of life where you’ve stood in the rain, it’s great to feel the beginning of the sunshine on your face, your own soul inching out from it’s place in the shadows. How do you know how to let go? The best way that I have found is through the practice of imagery and meditation. Consider trying this exercise I use in hypnotherapy.
First, find a calm and relaxing space and play some soft background music with now words. Very light sound, something more environmental or new age than top 40. Something that you have no memories for. Imagine that you are walking through a forest path, one foot in front of the other, trees crowding in on either side, the smell of the woods all around you. You are comfortable and filled with the warm sunshine that streams through the leaves. The air is crisp, fresh, and the world around you is quiet. As you climb slightly higher, you come to a fork in the road, a path to the left and one to the right. The fork to the right is darker, and looks familiar to you. On it you hear familiar sounds from the shadows, recognize a few of the images of yesterday. This is the same path that you’ve traveled time and again. You know what is on it, what it leads to. You know those feelings, and although they may be familiar, they are also part of your past, who you have been. Your memories lay down that path, and the pain that keeps you living in them.
The other path is new to you, and it’s heading up the ridge to places that you haven’t traveled yet. There is a sense of anticipation as you stand at the cross roads…you take a few tentative steps on the path that you haven’t traveled, the new way of life, and just in the distance, you see a beautiful stream with an inviting rock on which to sit and rest a while. You decide to walk to the stream, to sit on the rock and to simply be. The shadows are gone, but the memories of love – even lost love – are present, but not controlling. You can find them there next to you, comfortable, part of who you are….but not the definition of who you are. You realize that the only possession that you take with you on the path isn’t wealth, isn’t fame…it is love. The love that you have given…the love that you have received in grace. The stream balances and calms you senses. You feel ready to step onto the new path, realizing that the memories of what you’re leaving behind are part of your treasure…and that you’re whole and able without anything but your faith to guide you. It is your choice when you rise to return to the darker path, to walk it again until the road comes to another choice…but you know that the pain of it wears on your soul.
You can chose the path less traveled and dare to dream that what is ahead is better than what you leave behind.
You get to choose.
It is your life to live in faith.
I plan to record this session and allow it as an a therapeutic audio download for your use. It’s a great visual imagery that I use everyday in my own recovery program, to help control the pain of my physical condition on tough days…it’s over all a great relaxation technique. How do you know when it is time to let go?
Simple: You know that is it time to let do when the cost of holding on becomes overwhelming to you, taxes your mind and soul, and makes you tired. Letting go is always your choice. No one can make you stay in love, even if they linger on. No one chooses for you – letting go or staying on one path in your life is within your own personal, faithful power.
My decision to let go of friends, my former life as a chef, my business…all of it costs small to huge pieces of my heart. I bet you feel that way too, that the price is often high for having loved or tried and lost? But don’t you choose to have failed than have been to afraid to feel the wind of chance or love on your face? I chose. I traded those pieces willingly to have been part of their stories. I have given all the love in me without reservation, and grown past the point where there is any guilt or shame for my failures as a parent, a love, a wife, a friend…a daughter. There is only this that I know to be true:
Love, faith and hope are the only truths that you carry into life, live through and take out of this world. All those people that come and go, the possessions that you work so hard for…all temporary. Love with are you are, and know that pain is part of that. Don’t let go, don’t give up, don’t let yourself get bitter. Love with your whole heart…and be warmed by knowing that you are an amazing, unique person in the whole of space and time. It can’t rain all the time…but it does make the flowers grow.