Endings are hard, especially endings between people. I’ve never had an easy time with them; I must have missed the day when they taught “clean break.” Whether it’s a relationship, a job, or a way of being that needs to come to an end, loss is not easy. Soul-searching is important if you’re thinking about making big changes especially when other people will be affected, but there are certain times it’s just clear that change is coming and needed. A friendship is not what you thought it was, your boss is abusive, your landlord goes through your underwear drawer when you aren’t home — time for a change! Everything living grows, blossoms, peaks, and dies and something else is birthed. Resisting that reality is futile, you may as well head to the ocean and try to hold back the waves. This doesn’t mean all relationships die, it means we must be willing to shift and grow together and also accept that sometimes we’ll grow apart.
Growing up I had a friend I adored, I’ll call her Mary. We met in kindergarten, and were in school together all the way through our junior year of high school, mostly because I would not hear of going to any school where she wouldn’t be. I was at her house so many afternoons and weekends, her mom walked around in her underwear in front of me like I was one of her own. Before the start of third grade, my beloved best friend told me she didn’t want one best friend anymore. Now that we were almost eight she planned on having lots of friends. I went home and got in bed and cried my eyes out for hours. At some point my mom called Mary and asked what had happened and told her I was inconsolable. Mary said I misunderstood, which I wanted to believe but knew was just a thing she was saying to my mom to not be in trouble. I was sick to my stomach the first day of school, but Mary sat next to me and we played at recess, and I went to her house after school like always. It went on that way, but she did start spending time with another girl who wasn’t very nice to me, although we are now in contact and Mary and I aren’t. Life is so funny, and can you believe this stuff starts so early? This one likes me, but this one doesn’t. I love her, but she loves someone else.
When she was in preschool, my daughter announced one night that she didn’t want to go to school when a certain three year old boy was there because he never wanted to play with her. I asked her how she felt when he didn’t want to play and she said it hurt her feelings. I told her I remembered feeling that way when I was little and that grown-ups feel that way sometimes, too. I told her it did hurt, but if he didn’t realize how totally great it was to hang out with her, he was just missing out on all the fun he could be having and that was sad for him. I told her to play with the kids who love to play with her. Problem solved for a three year old, but this sh&t never ends. I have a bursting inbox of emails to prove it.
Depending on your personality, your life experiences and the context, dealing with change and loss can be very challenging. The end of a job you’ve had for years, even if it isn’t inspiring you and hasn’t been for far too long, is still a loss. It’s a loss of your comfort zone, of the familiar. If it’s imposed from the outside, of course it can also involve the loss of security, income, and if you have it wrapped up together with your identity, self-esteem. Even if you quit, if you’re in the driver’s seat, if you’ve decided it’s time to go, it’s still the loss of something old and the beginning of something new. The end of a relationship that isn’t growing anymore is still the loss of what was, what had been. The end of self-destructive patterns that are causing your suffering is still the loss of the familiar coping mechanisms and ways of denying. Now what?
Life is so much about transitions. If everything is in a state of flux, how do you open to the changing reality? Most of what stops us from embracing change is fear. We all want to be able to count on something. This is my house. Out on my lawn is my tree (it’s not your tree). These are my shoes. This is what I do on Mondays. Here’s where I put my mat in my yoga class. This is my partner. I know this person. (Do you know them, or are you assuming you know everything there is to know? Because your partner is changing just like you, growing, opening, thinking about things in different ways, evolving as life brings new situations and events, some wanted, others not.) The only thing you can really count on is that everything is changing all the time and that fighting that truth will cause you to suffer. Open to it all, invite it all in. Let it wash over you. Take action when you need to. Don’t expect to blossom if you’ve planted yourself in soil that has been stripped of all its nutrients, that hasn’t been watered for far too long. Nothing inspiring will grow out of that. Mourn when you need to. Be enraged, lonely or confused. Let your heart break. That way you can also open to all the gifts. All the wonder and joy and surprise and love. All the beauty and growth and expansion of your heart. Accept the endings so you can also embrace the beginnings. Sending you so much love,