People are funny. It seems impossible, but you can feel two totally different feelings at the exact same time. They contradict each other. They fight for space in your brain and in your heart. You think, “one of these feelings must be false. One is right and one is wrong.” But the reality is, you can hold one thing in each hand. And you may not understand how they flip back and forth with a dizzying speed–but here you are, grappling with all the feelings at the same time, with the same intensity.
It’s pretty annoying. Or maybe it’s just living.
I realized something about people recently. I was talking to a friend who was going through a similar situation I had gone through in the past. It was one of those times where, as a friend, you give your best advice–advice you often can easily give but seldom take yourself. She was struggling with the two contradicting feelings that we’ve all had at one point: the balance of wanting to let go but also to hang on. And I realized that 1. we all want to let something go but 2. we’re all desperate to hang onto it anyways.
I think the art of letting go is a b*tch to master. And honestly I’m the worst at it. I don’t let go of things easily. I have a very hard time accepting things I cannot change. But I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one to feel this way. No matter who you are, you will inevitably face a time where you have to let something go. A feeling, a grudge, a relationship, a hope. And it’s easy for us to tell our friends “just let it go! You’ll feel better!” but when it’s us, we desperately cling to whatever is hurting us.
It’s not that we don’t want to feel better. We are fully aware we need to “let it go” and yet letting go almost brings more pain than hanging on. It doesn’t always instantly “set you free” with a feeling of lightness in your chest. Eventually you get that, but more often than not, you have to go through some really heartbreaking pain first. And that feeling sucks.
We like to think that we’re limitless. That anything can happen to us in our lives (for the most part). But we also tend to put ourselves into boxes. We think: “If I keep fighting for this failing relationship, it will get better because they’re the only person I can imagine myself with.” “If I just suck it up at my miserable job, it will get better because this is the only thing I can imagine myself doing.” “If I continue to be angry at this one thing that happened in my past, it stays relevant, and I feel justified because I can’t imagine feeling anything else at this point.”
By holding on, we create walls around ourselves and force ourselves into a box that we aren’t meant to be in. We close ourselves off to all other amazing possibilities that await us. Why? Because it’s scary. It’s easier to hang on to what you know–even with all the pain it causes–than face the unknown and trust it’ll somehow, some way work out. We are desperate to feel better, we are desperate to not feel anything and to let this go…but we’re also terrified of what happens after the free fall.
So what can we do? We hold on until we get tired. We hold on until we physically, mentally, emotionally can’t anymore. We hold on until we learn the lessons we’re supposed to learn, no matter how long it takes to learn them. It may be months. It may be years. But eventually the exhaustion of holding on so tightly catches up with us and we just can’t hold on anymore. So we let go.
Sometimes it comes with happiness. Sometimes it comes with a deep sadness. But eventually we get that lightness in our hearts because we’re finally free of that box we put ourselves in. And once we open it back up, we’re greeted by all those amazing opportunities we were so terrified of before, and we wish we had just let go sooner.
So hold on. Hold on so tightly that you wear yourself out. Hold onto that heavy thing that’s weighing you down until you get so pissed that you just want to rid yourself of it. And then let it go.
As humans, we have the ability to feel complex and confusing feelings. And while that’s undoubtedly frustrating, it’s also pretty incredible. We can experience two contradictory feelings at the same time. It’s kind of like how we can’t imagine letting something go… and then can’t imagine why we held onto it for so long. It’s pretty annoying. But maybe it’s just living. &.