One thing I’ve learned about getting older, is that it comes with a whole lot of having to say Goodbye…to old habits, to old friends, to family members, and let me just say that I don’t like it.
No sir, not one bit.
When we have to say goodbye to someone special who has passed away there’s obviously nothing we can do about it, they’re gone and it’s out of our hands. We can only hurt, grieve, and mourn our loss, but then we have to continue moving on through our lives without their physical presence.
But what about having to say goodbye to someone that is still living? Like saying goodbye to our children as they strike out on their own? Or a parent, or grandparent, or a spouse that has been affected by disease and who is technically no longer ‘there’ mentally, but is still with us physically? Or a former friend or partner that we had to walk away from, or who walked away from us. How do you grieve for someone or something that is still physically here? How do you get closure from that??
There is a Buddhist parable called “Sallatha Sutta: The Arrow”. You can read a full version of the text here, but a (severely) paraphrased version would be: Imagine a person has been shot by an arrow. It causes them pain, so in grief and anger they beat their chest and become distressed. Because of their response to the first arrow they are now feeling ‘two pains, one physical and one mental’. It’s the same as being shot by two arrows, only the second arrow is one they shot at themselves.
We have every right to feel pain over losing someone, whether physically, mentally or emotionally (or all three), or transitioning to a new season in our lives that we didn’t necessarily choose (hello fellow empty nesters, or simply growing older!). Maybe the person or relationship we had to leave was hurting us in some way, or was unhealthy. We cannot ‘un-shoot’ that first arrow, it was out of our control and it’s natural to feel angry and hurt because of it. But we MUST stop shooting ourselves with the second one.
Sometimes holding onto that grief, or that anger or that hurt feels ‘safe’ because it’s familiar. And maybe some of us have honestly held that space for so long that even the pain of being in it is less scary than the uncertainty of letting it go. In that way, holding onto past pain seems to serve us.
But that is a false perception. The reality is that holding on to pain and hurt is holding us back from happiness. It’s keeping us stuck, walking in an endless circle of resentment and anger. Friend, we HAVE. TO. LET. IT. GO! For our own future happiness, and for the sake of those who love us. We deserve so much more! We deserve to be free of that pain and that anger, and I assure you it is 100% possible to exist outside of it! WE are the only ones being hurt by holding on, and WE are the only ones who can let it go.
How to let go of pain may look different for each of us…maybe journal the shit out of it. Write it all out, get a notebook, pour out a stream of consciousness onto the pages and then tear them up, or burn them, but don’t re-read them! Don’t go back.
There are an unlimited amount of positive books, blogs and podcasts to turn to…anything by Rachel Hollis, or Brooke Castillo, Tony Robbins or Jenna Kutcher. Go for walks, work it out in the gym, color, paint, create, talk to a professional (this is the 21st century, there is no shame in seeking help), meditate, or even join a group of like-minded positive people. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s going to be worth it. (If you need inspiration on how to commit to your healing check out my prior blog Committing to Commit.).
Like they say, the time is going to pass anyway. Would you rather spend it holding onto past hurts that no longer serve you? By resisting and resenting change that is inevitable? Or will you let go of that second arrow, and spend your time discovering the whole world of possibilities that lay in front of you? Thankfully, that choice is up to you.
Thank you for reading my little blog 🙂