I’m tired of letting go of the things “not meant for me.”
I chose to let go of someone in the last few days, a relationship that mattered to me. Why? That’s irrelevant. It was necessary. It is painful.
I was browsing Facebook (thinking, foolishly, that perhaps my friends’ posts would cheer me up) when I saw again a quote attributed to Gautama Buddha:
In the end, only three things matter:
how much you loved, how gently you lived,
and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.
Oh, that’s wise. I see the wisdom.
But when I’m feeling loss, especially a “minor” loss, it leaves me cold. Or perhaps hot with anger.
Who are you, random Facebook poster, to share that quote when I’m hurting? To suggest that my pain means I’m not letting go gracefully? Or to suggest, for that matter, that what I’m releasing wasn’t meant for me? How do you presume to know anything about my situation?
Of course, I don’t think the person who saw that quote and found meaning (or who perhaps thought only, “oh, that’s cool, I should share that”) holds any intention toward me. No sense of conviction intended. She (always a she in my world, for some reason) never even thought of me when posting. I’m quite sure of it.
But the volatile, grieving part of me? That part feels shamed.
I feel shame in not being sure about what is and is not meant for me.
I feel shame at feeling loss even though I’m reasonably sure that this relationship, at least as it was configured, was not meant for me.
I feel shame at grieving.
Our society doesn’t handle grief well. We like happy faces, a can do attitude.
Sure, we understand grief — in certain circumstances (death of a close family member, for instance), for an “appropriate” period of time.
After the last year, though, we’re all experiencing some form of grief. Lost people (over 500,000 of them, even if none was a relative or close friend), lost income, lost social opportunities, lost freedom.
At first, a year ago, we were all in shock. I remember watching the lockdown in Italy. The death toll that climbed at a dizzying rate.
I thought that could never happen in the United States… Until it did.
I never thought I’d pass a year without seeing my best friend. Any friends, save a precious few in my quarantine pod. A year without getting on a plane. A year without restaurants, holiday parties, the annual girls’ weekend. I certainly never imagined that I’d spend a full year getting my groceries via delivery or pick-up, not entering a store at all.
The deaths, the opportunities missed, the people I love and haven’t seen. The cars lined up at a food bank. The families who were doing fine, maybe feeling close to the edge but safe enough, and now over that edge, without enough food or money and no idea of when that might change. The elementary school children who don’t get to play Red Rover or learn to read in a classroom.
I grieve. Even when it isn’t overt, when I’m not feeling the lump in my throat or the tears I can’t stop, I grieve.
That’s the underlying drumbeat of 2021: pandemic grief. Everything else that happens, good and bad, exists in the context of that grief.
I believe that new grief calls past grief. We experience a loss, we grieve, perhaps we heal, we move forward. And then we experience another loss. The losses that came before get stirred, if only because our bodies recognize grief and rumble around to earlier times we had these feelings.
Today, we’re feeling underlying pandemic grief plus fresh grief plus grief reawakened.
For me, that means my fuse is short. I’m tired. I have less capacity for everything, and I’m less willing to suffer anything. My words sometimes carry more barb than I intend, if only because I don’t have the energy to soften them.
And the next thing I know, I’m raving at Facebook, castigating someone I don’t even know for judging me because I’m not able to let go of one more thing with any measure of grace.
I let go. It’s a start. Perhaps grace will come in time.
For now, though I know this relationship was not meant for me, I will struggle to pry open the hands that want to grasp it.
I will remind myself why letting go is the right thing, and I’ll do it each day. Maybe, some days, each hour.
I will turn my focus to the good that is in my life, and I’ll be grateful. There is so much that’s good.
I will write about the person I’ve bid farewell and about the end of the relationship, I’ll burn those pages, and I’ll release the ashes to the Wyoming wind.
I’ll allow the wind to sweep away the ashes, to dry my tears, to begin to work its natural healing magic.
And when I rant at inapplicable ancient wisdom, shared without a thought to my context, I’ll forgive myself.
Because, letting go gracefully? Not on the menu for 2021. And that’s ok.