Letting go

Have you ever had a conversation with someone, either in person, on the phone or via e-mail/im, where you just know it's not going well? Where they are clearly taking offense where none is meant? Where they're in such a bad place mentally/emotionally that your comment about not liking a book/movie/piece of music/type of food/idea seems to be a complete negation (somehow) of them?

I just had that. And, being human, my first reaction was to say (to myself) "wow, did I really come across that harsh/unsupportive/ignorant/mean?" The answer is "no", that they're so ready to look for a slight that they found one. Fine. I can take that weight. Of course, being human, I've also spent time coming up with nasty responses, slights and general comments to prove that I wasn't to blame, it's all the other person's fault.

Now it's time to let that go.

That happens a lot, doesn't it? After you're done being stunned by the meanness/idiocy of the other person's comments or actions, the responses flood in. That's natural (there's even a fancy French term, l'esprit d'escalier, for it). What's not natural is holding on to that crap for years.

When a relationship fails, there's a flood of those internal monologues that put you in the right, them in the wrong and karmically everything's better. How often do you get the opportunity to use those mot justes? Rarely. There's a time to let it all go. Sometimes, the other person doesn't even know that they've crushed your spirit - and if you brought it up, they'd be shocked and surprised that it meant so much to you.

Nursing these slights can be a life's work - I've seen people do it. I knew a person who kept a catalog of (what I saw as) minute incidents and would continually report on how she felt and how the other person should suffer. Calling her on it was considered impolite (I was much younger than this person and was supposed to show her deference and respect). But my young self wondered if it really was that horrible that someone had not been invited to a bridge night, or had rushed out of mah-johng, or worn an outfit that Wasn't Quite Right.

This person needed to let go.

As do the people who fight long-lost battles. I'm not talking about war buffs, who try to imagine what would have happened if General Whomever moved this division there. I'm talking about the people that still argue over decisions made (like which bed they'd take in a hotel room, or a purchase that was/was not made) sometimes years before, as if repeating the argument would somehow change the outcome. It won't. Even presenting new evidence ("see, if you'd done this, that wouldn't have happened" or "I told you that was needed") doesn't change reality, or minds.

I've been working hard this year on letting go. It's been a very difficult year, what with the fire and all, and I've been under stress. It's affected my health. It's affected my personal life. And I need to let go. Not just of the physical Stuff, but of the psychic Stuff.

Except for the cookie Thing One ate. That, I'll never let go.


Sherri said...

I've been working that one for...oh...way too long. Some days it seems that for every stupid thing I let go, I pick up another, or I find one I thought I'd let go, but it stuck like a burr.

Damn psychic demons. At least, though, I tend to slough off TYPES of baggage -- most of highschool is gone by now, and my long years with Pyscho Boyfriend are now just a collection of handy object lessons for which I am grateful. Most of what I'm holding happened in the last 5-10 years or so -- which still seems like an awfully long time, but comparatively isn't so bad.

Good luck with your divestment.

Aravis said...

It's so hard to let go, but every time I manage it, I'm so much happier. Life it just too short, and resentment takes too much energy. There's a saying: Resentment is drinking the poison, and expecting the other person to die.

That being said, the taking of cookies is unforgivable. A woman's got to draw the line somewhere.

Jandy said...

Cookies - that's bad... Of course it was my brother's fault we broke the window when I was 16 (his side of the story is different).

It's easier to let go when outside of a situation. I'm in one bad relationship right now that I can't avoid short of leaving a group where I like everyone else. Part of the time I blame that person, part of the time I blame me. But I know how to solve it - get that person to leave the group! (OK, so that's just a dream.) This one is a problem and easiest way for me to handle it is to have all confrontations of any meaningful interactions with a third person present.

As you say, it's not easy to let go...