We are often told that forgiveness, amicable resolution or “getting complete” are the healthy ways to move on from a relationship. I agree that, in a perfect world, with two people committed to each other’s happiness (and their own), this is a mighty way to move forward in your life.
But what about when that isn’t an option?
“Writing a letter to the person” is often taught and can be very healing in getting things off your chest and letting things go whether you send the letter or not. But what if you are still left incomplete?
What if years later, pain still comes up when you think of that person and that relationship? One potent tool that I have discovered, and offer to my clients, is taking stock of what you had to give up in order to move forward.
What do I mean by “giving it up?” I mean: “letting things go;” not from a conceding, resigned space, but as a compelling choice. When you choose to let things go, versus falling into resignation, you take the wheel in the situation and get to decide where you want to go and how.
I was in a two-year relationship following my divorce.
I honestly believed I had found the woman I was supposed to be with for the rest of my life; She loved my kids, she loved me, and I loved her. At the year-and-a-half mark, we moved in together, kids and all. They thought of her as their step-mom, and she thought of them as her step-kids. There was also her dog and cat added to the mix.
Everything was great for two months, and then one of my sons started having major sleep issues at our new place. We quickly became sleep deprived, tensions grew, and it became too much for her. Within three months, she left without discussion or resolution, and without any closure for the kids.
What followed was a major crisis:
How would I pay for this apartment where I was already barely covering my half of the expenses? How would I recover from the second time I incorrectly thought I had found the “love of my life?” And how were my kids going to get through losing another parental figure and friend? (Not to mention the dog and cat).
The answer was in my decision that it was going to work out. The months ahead were filled with grief, hustling for work and being there as much as I could for my kids. There were financial responsibilities she ignored. There were her secret messages to my daughter; which still affect my relationship with her two years later. And there was the emerging of a new version of myself.
I attempted to resolve things many times. I gave her opportunities to “make things right” by all of us. And ultimately, for my well-being, I let go.
I chose to walk away from all expectations and everything I believed I was entitled to because it weighed me down; it was affecting my health, my kids, and was not aligned with the man I wanted to become. So, I let go. I emailed saying that I wished her well and I moved on with my life.
Two years later, a mutual friend, who knew nothing of what I went through, brought her up: She was convinced that I had been unwilling to resolve things. As upsetting as that was, that conversation caused me to reflect on all the doors I had to walk through, all the walls I had to break down and all the things I chose to give up, so that I could be who I am today: A loving father, a powerful relationship coach, and an author with a passion for equality and understanding.
I had given up the money; I had given up the hurt, I had given up the messages to my daughter, and a whole list of other things involving betrayal, dishonesty and the effects on my kids. I gave it up so that I could create a new life for all of us—the life I am living right now.
I speak from experience when I say, “if you think you so desperately need just one more conversation with her or him,” know that you don’t. You have everything that you need within. You have all the power you need to let go and move forward to create the life you are worthy of.
Previously published on Goodmenproject.com