Yesterday I met a friend of mine after almost two years. As we were catching up, she mentioned how she had just ended her four-year long relationship because she wanted more of his time and he was unable to give her that. I was amazed at how easy she made it seem. I was impressed because recently I have recognized how hard it is for me to just let go. I am not proud to admit that my life at the moment seems infested with people who don’t really treat me the way I deserve. There was a point of time when, for me, walking away was a piece of cake and I have no regrets over dumping some excruciatingly annoying people from my life. Lately, something has changed – sometimes I wish I could pinpoint exactly what is it that has brought about this transformation and re-wire myself to go back to my old ways. Why is it so hard to let go?
We've all been there. There comes that point of time when you realize that, for the sake of your own sanity, dignity or self-respect, you need to walk away. There are friends who lecture you and agree with you. They nag you about doing it because it is the right thing to do but no one really talks about how hard it actually is.
Arriving at the decision alone is a complex process – each time you find yourself weighing pros and cons of having or not having that person in your life. Once you have decided, it is a decision you have to stick to every single day. It’s as difficult a thing to do as it is to give up on chocolate! You may be able to ask your friends to stop gifting chocolates to you and dispose the stash you have stocked in your refrigerator but then there are unanticipated cravings. Cravings are easy to get rid of when you are craving a food-item but what do you do when you are craving the company of that particular someone you want to walk away from especially when that person intends to stay in your life?
The person in question sometimes comes up with effective justifications of how walking away from them is not a viable thing to do and there happens to be a moment when you believe these explanations because there is a part of you desperately trying to hold on while another part of you is doing its best to break away. One never knows which side will win the battle. You can remain strong and tell the person that it’s just not working out and you are not going to change your mind. You notice the hurt and puzzled expression on their face and try looking away. They leave you without saying a word. You are now left with guilt and then doubt enters the picture making you question whether you did the right thing or not.
Another strategy that some people, including myself, adopt is slowly distancing yourself away from that person so that by the time they realize you are gone from their lives it is too late. Some take refuge by putting in extra hours at work so that they can use that as an excuse for not being in touch. Others just take up a new hobby or start socializing with new sets of people. While you do this, you are still resisting the temptation of picking up your phone and calling that person. Sometimes you give in to your cravings and type them a message only to delete it before sending. You restrain from spying on their accounts on social networking sites and sometimes even avoid common friends. You are especially on your guard after over-indulging on the alcohol to avoid drunken messages or calls. When you don’t hear from them, you feel a sense of victory which gets falsified the very next moment that you realize they haven’t bothered to connect with you. Why do you always have to initiate? Why are you the one always taking the first step in every relationship? These questions cause you pain and you feel that your decision of deleting them from your life was indeed a wise one. And just then their name pops up on the screen of your phone. You can feel the lump in your throat and the knot in your stomach. Your validations were just about to get confirmed and they had to choose that very fated moment to remember you. You don’t know whether to laugh or cry. You are a little happy but angry at the same time. You blink back the tears that may have welled up in your eyes and try talking to them as normally as possible. Each second is a rigorous combat and you feel a huge sense of relief when the person finally hangs up.
The worst part about such an episode is that it does not happen just once – it’s a forever recurring phenomenon. You have to be forever prepared. At one point of time that person may realize you are being cold and distant and question you – you have to be brave throughout the interrogation. It isn't easy. You wish they would just read your mind, comprehend what you are going through, change their ways so that you could throw away this entire façade and return to your almost picture-perfect world; and if they are too incompetent to understand you, you wish that they just stay away.
Staying away after you have chosen to walk away is extremely challenging. You wish there was a manual that could tell you the exact length and sequence of these feelings but unfortunately you just have to allow time to take its course and keep hoping that eventually you will feel better. Sometimes I feel confrontations are better – at least they give you some form of closure. It is better than realizing one fine day that someone you cared for has randomly disappeared from your universe and you are totally clueless about what exactly happened. According to me, there never really is any good way of breaking up with someone you once cared about deeply. Even though having “the talk” may seem to be the adult thing to do, it doesn't always go as one has planned in the head.
The final confrontation may happen days, weeks or even months after you decided to finally end things and the entire fiasco is saddening, frustrating and infuriating. From time to time you will realize how difficult it is to say “no” because somewhere you still want to say “yes”. You will find it difficult to just ignore text messages. It’s very difficult to keep your promise of trying to stop when you aren't sure you do. It’s as difficult as recovering from addiction.
I always thought walking away was easy. When I wanted to walk away from someone, I thought I would just call it off and walk away with my head held high feeling great that I finally ended something that was causing me to suffer. Now I see it for what it really is – an ongoing relentless ordeal of consciously saying “no” even if you feel otherwise until you have officially moved on, all the while hoping in your heart of hearts that by some grace of the Divine, things miraculously change and you have to put an end to all this. Of course it is easy sometimes especially when you don’t care anymore or didn't care at all to begin with but those times are rare.
People aren't black or white and in the battle of letting go, you are constantly fighting in the gray area, forever negotiating your stance. Sometimes you do lose a part of yourself and I have come to realize that it’s alright because the new ‘you’ that emerges is a better version. The doubt may never leave you – in between the instances of feeling good, there may sometimes be a sense of regret. One can never be 100% sure if they are making the right decision by letting go. You will question that decision almost every minute. However, there is a part of you that has realized that life must go on and it is time to move away. The question really is – are you ready to take the plunge?