It’s the most difficult thing for us to do as grabby, stubborn, stuck-in-our-way humans, but it’s as necessary and vital as breathing. Letting go means change. Letting go means opening yourself up to growth, but it also means opening yourself up to the the possibility of more hurt. And we don’t like hurt anymore than we like emptiness.
Something that we tend to forget is that letting go can also be liberating. Remember getting rid those helpful training wheels; falling over and over again before you finally – after hours and hours of persistence – gain balance? I will never forget the day I learned to ride without them. My dad was a bit of an extremist. So, he sat me at the top of our very steep driveway, and pushed. I learned maybe a little too quickly, because I had no other choice!
Remember how it felt the first time you coasted on only two wheels, and how once you had it down pat, balance was yours for the keeping? Remember also letting go of the handrails on a roller coaster for the first time, and how freeing that was. I remember thinking, ‘why was I ever even scared?’.
Of course, letting go of people is a bit more difficult. Whether we must let go because of death, or we force ourselves to let go because the relationship is simply unhealthy. The pit of emptiness feels just as empty, and the task feels just as impossible. Just like riding without training wheels, the grieving process is nerve-racking, breathtaking (in the bad way), and even painful at times. There will be scars, scabs, and bruises all over the inside. Sometimes we feel we have it licked; like we’re balancing just right. We feel momentum kicking in, and everything feels manageable again, until we again are confronted with those little speed bumps & potholes. But as time goes on, the road becomes smoother, and the distance between obstacles broadens until one day we barely even notice them.
That’s not to say that the memories are gone, or that we’re completely ‘healed’. I’m not sure ‘healing’ ever really happens completely, at least not while we’re alive. There will always be scars, but those scars remain as reminders of what we’ve learned. And hopefully, if the coping process was a healthy one, we can chose to hold on to the good memories, and extract from the bad ones only the lessons – letting go of what was to discover that what is left is someone stronger, wiser, and more balanced – and the coasting gets easier.
When I hear people say that ‘time heals all wounds’ is garbage, I am baffled. If we spend our time confronting the pain head-on, then time does its part in the process of letting go. I’ve had my fair share of ‘letting go”. I’ve let go of both parents, all grandparents, and lots of relationships. None of these were easy. Some were more difficult than others. But one underlying theme has remained the same; Time heals the hurt, I mend the memories, and the rest is in God’s hands. In truth, nothing is impossible not matter how much the grieving hurts in the process. I am still here, still recovering, still growing and still learning to ride without training wheels.