Life (and stuff): Holding on, Letting go

I have a confession. Sometimes, I hold a grudge.

I’m learning a grudge is kind of like Tylenol: you think it will somehow protect you from pain, but it really doesn’t. At best, it’s thoroughly ineffective. And in large enough amounts, it can actually even poison you.


Rewind to last week, when Boyfriend said, “you really respond to people with empathy.” It was literally the best compliment I’d ever received from him. We also talked about how I’m a canary – the proverbial, sensitive bird in the coal mine – and how not everyone I bump into in life may feel as sensitive as I do, but how I tend to treat them that way anyhow. I digress. It was a very good talk.

This week, another close friend called me an innocent bystander in life. And while I really am a canary, I’m far from innocent. And I’m not always empathetic or all rainbows and sparkles or any of that either (gasp!). And especially not when I’ve been deeply hurt.


The act of forgiving & moving on is something I really need to learn to do for myself, to heal myself. The truth is: this takes a whole hella lot of work and is much easier said than done. Because as much as I strive toward kindness & empathy – practicing it as much for myself as I do with others – and as hard as I try to let go of the pain & be vulnerable, I also find myself fiercely holding tight to the still-vivid memories of past hurts. As if my life depends on this very action. As if it will protect me somehow.


I guess I still hold on, because I cannot understand the parts of life that seem to involve just repeatedly lining-up to get slapped in the face again & again (metaphorically, emotionally – to my knowledge, nobody is actually slapping me).


I don’t understand why some of the nicest people I know have also been hurt the most deeply.


I don’t understand how easy it is for some people to repeatedly, knowingly cause someone else harm.


I don’t understand how sometimes the easiest people to hurt are actually the ones closest to us.


I don’t understand how or why the world seems increasingly more frustrated & angry.


I don’t understand … A lot.


And I don’t understand why sometimes I just can’t seem to let go and move forward in a space of love. Why I would choose to hold on to pain. Why holding on feels easier than letting go.


I’m not going to make a lofty moral argument for forgiveness here. I can’t. Not when it’s hard enough for me to follow that same advice. But there is something valuable to be learned in letting go. And I guess I’ll just have to let you know what that is when I get there.


Some of us think holding on makes us strong but sometimes it is letting go

Hermann Hesse


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