For many in this therapy world of ours, we know exactly what this means. It means that the person that has walked into your home and been part of your lives is ready to move on. We expect it, but it still hurts. Most times, we earnestly wish these people well. They have been a part of our lives, some will be part of your memory, and a few will be part of your soul.
Case in point. I can remember almost every detail of MW’s face, his voice, his interests, the things that pressed his buttons, what made him, our special games…He is ingrained in my soul. It sounds like I’m talking about a boyfriend, but all of us clinicians and parents alike will know that this is what it means to be ALL IN and however impermanent the therapeutic relationship is…there is grief and longing when it’s gone. I last saw MW around 2005. He and many others live in my heart. I know that you have these same people in your heart.
Sometimes it can feel like a heartbreak when we move away from each other for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes we know it’s the end of this journey. Sometimes we know that ‘we will meet again.’ And sometimes we struggle to make sense of the “break up.” Sometimes we are blindsided and the surprise lands first like an upset stomach, then crushing fear, and hurt that needs personal attention. Sometimes we believe it’s something about “us” or our child that precipitated this change. Sometimes we legitimately believe in this goodbye. Each of us takes each closure of a relationship differently. And many of us don’t know how to do the art of goodbye well.
But what if we considered it differently….All of us…Could it serve us better?
Sometimes it can feel like a heartbreak when we move away from each other for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes we know it’s the end of this journey. Sometimes we know that ‘we will meet again.’ And sometimes we struggle to make sense of the “break up.”
What if we considered relationships to be impermanent and that the closure or end of those relationships didn’t denote a failure but as an expected growth of many relationships? What if we considered that while we are here with each other that we can be present and when we leave we can also be kind? What if we didn’t look for the biggest, better deal when things felt tense? What if we de-stigmatized leaving and considered leaving as a necessary part of life? What if we let people know that when they leave, they will be missed, appreciated but without a guilt trip? What if we grieved for what we are actually afraid of, the feelings that are activated when others exit our lives? What if we knew that we can cultivate belonging and connectedness with just about anyone….if we give them the room…and didn’t hold on to a specific person to fill a specific role in our hearts? What if we allowed the hurt of leaving to not callus our bodies and minds but to be considered a natural part of life…just like any transition? What if….
In all honesty, I’ve reeled in the anger blame, shame, longing, and grief of many losses….as a clinician, employer and as a human. I don’t do loss well. I’m gonna dig into the why and how. The hurt can seem unbearable and it lifts. The hurt can be avoided with the business of life. Yet, cradling this hurt, giving voice to this hurt, and not letting hurt define me is something I'm working towards improving upon.
Sometimes we get so practiced at loss that the moment we attach, we prepare for loss. I want to not armour up in this way. I want to not consider any human being as replaceable. I want to examine the "so what, what's next” protection I can do when I feel loss. I want to not shore up your heart to not feel this pain.
What if we considered relationships to be impermanent and that the closure or end of those relationships didn’t denote a failure but as an expected growth of many relationships? What if we considered that while we are here with each other that we can be present and when we leave we can also be kind?
We might all need to have a breakup/moving on/transition moment. How can we have a conversation that allows both people to be heard; even when wrongs can be weighted in one direction. How can we not feel rejection when natuarl transitions happen, how can we learn from our mistakes without owning other people's soorrows….how can we do it better?
Share with us how loss, longing, and grief are part of the transitions in your life and how have you learned to thrive within these painful moments? Comment below.
Each of us has been left and each of us has left someone. This is just being human. How can we do the leaving or letting go with more integrity and heart?