Letting Go of “Lots” for Christmas


Throughout life, but especially right now in the Holiday Season, I am finding more and more each year, that I am having to let go. Not of people necessarily (though that does happen) but definitely let go. I am having to let go of plans and expectations, of details and striving.

I really wanted this year to be different, simpler. Doesn’t that sound odd, though? Striving for simplicity? I tried to lower the number of gifts bought (losing battle, usually, but maybe I’ll try something different next year). I have tried to embrace the quiet moments (difficult with a rambunctious five-year-old and the never-ending work of teaching). I tried to get everything done early (yeah…was still ordering gifts as recently as Saturday morning). I feel like I’m constantly striving for a goal but missing it somehow and then having to let go of what I thought were pretty good plans. Even worse, I’m having to let go of expectations that I somehow managed to place upon myself without even realizing the weight that was settling on my shoulders. You, too? Well, welcome to the club. More and more I am feeling like Cindy Lu Who, wondering what happened to my joy in Christmas, while, all the while, I’m rushing around like mad, the same as every other Who in Whoville. After all, there are still Christmas programs to attend and participate in, pitch-ins to cook for, papers to grade, and presents to wrap.

Every year, I say the same thing and I feel like I fail at that one thing: a simpler, more meaningful Christmas. I feel as though I lose myself in the attempt to make sure that it’s special for my dear ones–which is, of course, important–and I forget to enjoy it myself. Then I blink and…Christmas is gone.  The season is over and the softness of the lights becomes glaring, a reminder that it’s slipped through my fingers again.

Is this you, too, by any chance? Well, then. Trust me, dear one, you are in excellent company. The rush of the world is hard to resist and sometimes we just end up striving anyway and feeling like we never get much of anywhere. But there is good news! Christmas hasn’t passed us by yet. Like Scrooge, we still have a chance. We still have a chance for a glass of wine/hot chocolate/egg nog/cider before the silent glow of the Christmas tree. We have a chance to find those little moments of peace and quiet. We still have a chance to let go of some “lots” for a bit more of “best”.

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In the Letting Go


Letting go. People talk about letting go all the time, its need and necessity to mental and emotional health. It is a definite truth for me that I sometimes fight so hard for relationships/friendships because, to me, letting go feels suspiciously like giving up. And I don’t like to give up. Giving up is being defeated. Giving up is having failed. I don’t like to give up.

I believe that human beings are built for relationship as part of growth and maturation and support through life. Relationships, friendships, these are important, with meaning and ties and implications. Growing apart is one thing that does happen, yes. But, in my mind, giving up is an entirely different thing and not something that is strong in my repertoire. However, I am learning an important lesson (I say “learning” because I am still very much in process). Letting go is not about giving up. Letting go can mean a myriad of things. A few of those could be:

This is not good for me/my soul.

This is not good for them/their soul.

I need to make a choice.

I need to let them make their choice.

I need to live in the present and not the past.

This is my life, not theirs.

It is their life, not mine.

I need to live my life, not theirs.

This list is by no means exhaustive, of course, but it represents what I have run across and considered in my own processing and experience. Sometimes letting go is a quick cut, an immediate severing brought on by extreme situations and circumstances. I’ve been there. Sometimes letting go is a slow process, the last step and sometimes the absolute hardest one. I’ve been there, too. Letting go is moving past (even if just past) the hurt, the anger, and the bitterness and acknowledging that you still have a life. You still have family, friends, and loved ones, hobbies and talents, happinesses and joys, growth and change and renewal, a hope and a future.

And so do they.

It still doesn’t mean that letting go is easy. As I said, it can be the last and hardest step in a process.

We have recently been introduced to the concept of toxic relationships and people. Toxic as in “not abusive per say, but [that is] in some form or another bad for us. Limiting. Unhealthy – even if that lack of health is innocent (Priebe)”. There are times when, despite effort from one or even both sides, relationships or friendships do not work, no matter how badly we would like the contrary to be true.

One of the hardest lessons we may ever have to learn is that sometimes, the best way to love someone we love is from a distance. That no matter how much we want them to thrive and expand and be happy, we will never be the people who facilitate that expansion.

And that’s okay. (Heidi Priebe)

This quote is both striking (intellectually and emotionally) and incredibly apt. I think that we have often come to equate a separation, a need to let go and move on, with a lack of love or care. It really couldn’t be further from the truth at times. It is entirely possible to love someone deeply, want every good and happiness for them, but know that your active presence in their life doesn’t serve that wish, or theirs in your life serve it for you.

We [may] prioritize things as X, Y, Z, not realizing that our friends or our partners or our loved ones prioritize them as Y, Z, X. And our relationship spirals into toxic territory without us even realizing it. […] The truth is, you can love someone with 100% of your whole heart and still be toxic to them. You can care for them and still be toxic. You can want what’s best for them so badly that it tears you apart, and still have a negative impact on their life for the sole purpose of your two elements combine to form an inexplicably toxic reaction. Neither of you are to blame. But the result is what it is (Priebe).

When the realization does come, it does not necessarily make it any less difficult emotionally but it really is a healthy realization. Sometimes, there can middle ground found, communication made, rifts repaired, and toxicity dissipated. Sometimes not. Sometimes, the best thing is to let go, to walk away. Not stomp, or rage, or huff, or fire shots across the bow as we do. But step back, wish them all the good, and walk away.

Life does not end in the walking away. Let me say that again. Life does not end in the walking away. In the letting go.

You can still wish them every good and happiness. You can still care deeply, even beyond your own understanding. But you can let go. And you can move on. Your life will continue.

And it will be okay. No, it will be better than okay. It will be good.

 

Endnotes:

Priebe, Heidi.   http://thoughtcatalog.com/heidi-priebe/2015/12/547554/, 1/3/2016.