» i keep carrying you with me: how to let go.
  • i keep carrying you with me: how to let go.

    May 25th • Posted in love, personal, writing

    I don’t know if I’ll ever understand why people carry so much love for certain physical things.

    Growing up, I never treasured a childhood blankie, or loved a stuffed animal so much that time and wear ravaged it into a dirty rag or sliver of its former glory. The only thing I’ve really held dear is a leather jacket I received as a Christmas present from my mother– which I’ve had for eight years– and I even let go of the idea of that for the most part, because it was time. (The reality is that I probably got really drunk one night and left it at a bar. Or I left it at school and forgot about it. Or it was stolen. The end.) But I’ve never felt this hard-pressed love for things that I’ve had for years on end, even though I enjoy them. While I think it’d be hard for me to part with certain material things (for instance, if I lost one of my favourite dresses,) it’s easy enough to replace with another dress. It’s the same reasoning I apply to moving out, which is why I end up throwing or giving everything away, and start from scratch when I move to a new place. It’s not necessarily wasteful if I’m donating to someone who could use it more than me, right?

    No matter how hard I’ve tried, I cannot seem to apply this sensible logic to my personal life. The people that come through my life, no matter the impact they’ve made, all seem to leave with (as David Foster Wallace so eloquently puts it) claw marks on them. I try to remember that there are different types of people that enter throughout one’s life span: those who are just passing through, hurricanes that destroy everything and leave nothing (these are by far, the most awful– but the biggest blessings, even if I don’t realise it immediately after the destruction) and those who will stay forever.  I have always been told relationships of any sort were a two-way street: the other person has to be willing, open and reciprocating of your efforts in order to have an open avenue of communication. But I was never warned about the hurt I would feel when someone wasn’t open and receptive to my communication, or when I was forced to let go of something sooner than I was ready to let go.

    I mention this now because Tobi and I just moved into our new place. Despite all the stress, my boyfriend finds it funny that I can just throw random things away. And that I’m happy to replace them with new things– that I could let things go so easily and not bat an eyelash at it. I so dearly wish I was as flippant with people I don’t want in my life anymore (or don’t need– shouldn’t need) as I am with inanimate objects. But I’m not. I find it hard to cut off all contact with people that have come through my life. Some cases are easier than others, but most end in a struggle to come to a place of closure.

    For some relationships, this was easy. A former best friend and I ended a friendship in utter radio silence. I still have friends who ask me what happened to us, and I can’t respond with a definitive answer. A lot of things happened, but you can’t maintain a friendship if a person is actively avoiding you and the hard intricacies of a failing friendship. And I was in a place in my life where I was finding out who I really was and where I fit in the community– I did not want to place the time or effort battling it out with someone who really didn’t want to do the same for me. In contrast, for others, this process is long, enduring and difficult. Maybe my ability to romanticise many of my fleeting relationships with men, or people that are constant enigmas hinders my ability to let go. Perhaps it’s the infinite amounts of love I have to give and I’m not sure how to manage it or disperse it evenly between the people I have in my life. It’s something I’m still working on.

    I think I’m also bringing this up because of an incident that happened fairly recently. The thought of someone I had a thing (whatever it was, beautiful fleeting fling– a summer romance) with having a thing with someone I knew bothered me; mainly because it was uncharted territory, but also because of the memories I held onto so dearly. The nostalgia of the moments we had together was too much for me to bear. Maybe it’s because I’m someone who puts a lot of stock into the intimacies of sex and love, even if it’s only for one night. But stupid things like getting caught up in the memories of someone that was wrong for me is the stuff that I’m talking about: I should be able to let go of people like this easily, but I don’t know if I can.

    My boyfriend reassures me that this is a normal thing. While I don’t think it is– he tells me that it’s a good thing that I can hold so much love for people, even though they’ve wronged me, or even if I don’t speak to them as often (if at all) anymore. But sometimes being the person that carries around all this weight is difficult. The memories that I carry are often scars, remnants of those who have wronged or hurt. While I am healed for the most part, and I’ve “let go” of many people– I’m wondering if it is as hard for others as it is for me to cut people off, to let them loose and set them free. I can’t take back the memories, and I can’t let those go because they are moments that define who I am– but I’m wondering if other people feel this sense of utter loss and hurt and try to fight as hard as they can to keep something, like I do.

    Do the things you let go of also have claw marks on them? Or do you set them free, cut them loose, and let them go when they’re no longer useful to you, or they’re not good for you anymore?

    • This is beautiful. I also have a very hard time letting people go. It terrifies me to let the good ones go and it just seems impossible to let the bad go too. wonderful post! <3

      • Alyssa, thank you for the kind words. It is SO hard to let the good ones go, but I feel like you don’t have to let them go unless they’re no longer good for you!

    • I had a blankie when I was little that I was so attached to that I kept sleeping with it until I was 12 years old. I had a hard time parting with it because it brought me such comfort and the only reason why I let go of it at 12 was because I lost it and was never able to find it. I was so sad when I couldn’t find it.

      • Honestly, I wish I had something like that so I could remember, or have some semblance of a loved thing when I was a child. It must have been hard for you, especially when you were a kid! The closest thing I’ve come to feeling attached to a physical object was that leather jacket. Even though I bought a new one, it still doesn’t have the same “feel” as that old one. :/

    • Dana Brillante-Peller

      I have a hard time letting go things/people from the past as well. I agree with your boyfriend in that it can be a good trait, but if it over-consumes you (as it does to me at time), I have to just break the ties. It’s totally hard…

      • I think my boyfriend sees it as a positive trait because the worst thing I have to say about anybody– even if they were terrible for me–is that they just weren’t the right fit. Breaking ties can be SO hard, but it’s always going to be something I work towards and strive to achieve, because sometimes you need to just have healthy people in your life that will bring out the best in you :)

    • Tim

      I’ve had this same discussion with my fiancee. She’s the type of person who holds a lot of sentimental objects, while I do not. Having to move numerous times as a kid — and almost always losing a lot of my stuff when it happened — likely left me the way I am. Even when we moved in together, the breakdown of stuff in our apartment is roughly 95% hers and 5% mine. It’s a very odd feeling for me to live with someone who has a completely contrasting point of view on this specific ideology. That said, in talking to people, it seems like I’m the minority in this regard.

      • I didn’t move often as a kid, and I still don’t have physical attachments to objects that I’ve had in the past. But I also think it’s because we’ve lived in the same house for years, and when I’m home, I can still go home to my old room that I’ve slept in since I was a kid, which is virtually the same. My mom has even kept an old Minnie Mouse stuffed animal I’ve had since I was a kid, but don’t remember playing with at all.

        I feel as though you have an advantage though– because you and your fiancee are still young and have some time to be open about moving and settling elsewhere if your career (or life) requires it– you don’t have to take much with you. That’s why the idea of buying “big investment pieces” never made sense to me. I’m going to have to sell it or throw it out anyway– why would I buy something that I love, just to let it go?

    • It took me a very very long time to letting go of relationships that were bad for me. You get better at it with time, but only when something snaps into focus. Suddenly you`re looking at your relationship in high-def and you can make the decision that`s been so obvious all along.

      Though sometimes this doesn’t mean cutting all ties. I have friends who I love that I just kind of out grew, or we got busy and drifted. None of us take it personally that we may only see each other a few times a year, because they are always warm and loving reunions.

      Fighting for a relationship out of nostalgia is perfectly normal, we have a tendency to live in the past when the present is hard. We`re taught that “Relationships are work”, but when you ask a loving couple, or two true best friends, they’ve never had to work at it for a second.

      Congratulations on your new place :)


      • Hi Laura! Thanks for the response.
        I agree with you. It still takes me so long to cut ties with people that are bad for me. I’ve outgrown a couple friends as well, but we still keep in touch every so often. I’m starting to feel like what my parents warned me about was correct: it’s more difficult to maintain relationships once you grow up. You’re so involved with yourself, and later on– your family, growing up– that maintaining friendships is a bit harder. I’m still friends with a couple of the people I keep dear, but it feels strange because I always feel this want for the relationship to get back to when it was in its prime. I’ve veered on the edge of being that really good friend who you can see every once in awhile, but recently I’ve found it difficult to maintain other ties.

        I also still believe that relationships are work, and people are actively working through them– but relationships and friendships that are right for you don’t feel like work because they’re smooth. And thank you :) It’s a great place and we’re happy with it!

    • Helena

      Great read! I feel that people are put into our lives for a purpose. Sometimes it isn’t very long, and that’s ok. Because through our association with them, we learn a little bit more about ourselves!

      • I believe this as well. The thing that made the most sense to me was that there are all types of people, most of whom are in your life temporarily and whiz by– but the ones who are there for a purpose are the ones who teach you so much about yourself.

    • I too struggle with letting people go, though I have no issues doing so with objects. I have very little sentimentality when it comes to things but I am completely opposite with people. As with you, I think a lot of it has to do with closure. I will say that when I realize that it’s time to let go, I try to force myself out of the habits I have of checking in to see how they are and communicating. I generally have to take it a day at a time and admittedly fail more often than I succeed but eventually when I’ve made the decision to cut someone out of my life, I try my hardest to make it so, though I’m not always entirely successful.

      • Angie, I’m glad to hear that I’m not alone with how I let things or people go. I struggled with the idea of closure for a very long time before realising that you give yourself your own closure. Or that silence in and of itself, can be a form of closure.

    • It really is hard to let go of others. I know I have the tendency to hold on to those that treat me poorly or take advantage of me because for so long I had trouble making friends. It can be tasking to have all the baggage, so it’s okay to let go of others/things for your own sake. I’m slowly learning that it is okay.

      • I’ve found it the most difficult thing to let go of people, even if I want to. I think there’s something so inherently powerful about the good memories you have with those people, that you want to see that there is good in them. So it’s harder to let go.

    • Same, unless the object had sentimental value, then I would have a hard time letting it go, but alas, material things don’t matter to me and I told my husband such. I want tangible things in my hand that matter like having a family or getting better from my mental illnesses. I had a hard time letting people go, but I realized this late in my life that people will go or stay and there’s nothing you can do about it. It is up to us to realize this and understand that if they truly wanted to stay then they would make time.

      Good post!