“Let go of the illusion that it could have been different” ~ Unknown
It could have been different. A number of situations flit through my mind. There are relationships and marriages; jobs and opportunities; friendships and let downs, all could have been different. Instead of subscribing to the principle of “it is what it is,” I spent much of my life twisting myself inside out to understand why, what did I do, what should I have done, to get the outcome I wanted instead of the outcome that occurred. A bit of that self- analysis is healthy, learn from each experience, but not the unhealthy obsession of over thinking it. All that it did to me for so long was make me anxious, angry at me, some self- loathing and I trusted the next person just a little bit less.
The illusions that it could have been different has been the motivator for me to hang on too tightly. It has been the motivator of my reactions, begging and pleading for it to be what I thought it would be. The illusion for me really becomes “if I fight hard enough and tell you all the reasons it should be different then it will be different.” All it really does is alienate that person or situation more.
Through different situations I have learned some ways that I let go of illusions, although they are never full proof. The stronger I feel about something, the harder it is to let go of what I thought it was going to be. A perfect example that I had beenstruggling with is a friendship that has waned over the last year, that for a few years was a best friendship. We shared a lot, talked just about each day, and were deep into each other’s lives. As she was going through her divorce, I was the person she was talking to. I knew everything, the money that was in the center of the argument, the emotions that she was feeling, the difficulty of ending a long marriage. I was the person she wanted to spend time with, have dinners with, etc. All of sudden out of nowhere, that changed. We went from talking daily to talking weekly, then to monthly, now, I couldn’t tell you the last conversation we had. I thought it was a special friendship, one that doesn’t come along very often, one that you cherish. I cherished it. She didn’t. I had the illusion that this was going to be different, that I had a friend for life, someone to lean on as well as do a lot of things with as she was also now single. I don’t have many single friends, so I don’t get to go out the way I used to. My friends are all coupled, therefore I sit home a lot. I reacted by fighting for the friendship in a not so good way, I still had an illusion of what the friendship was supposed to be and I now know I also felt used. I was only good enough to be her friend when she was going through a tough time and had nobody else she trusted.
Letting go of the illusion that this friendship wasn’t going to be lifelong, and that what I felt and she felt were different was very difficult for me as it came on the heels of a year of complete loss. It has taken me longer to let go than I would like. In some ways, it has actually taught me what I need to do to let go.
First I need to stop obsessing. To do that, I needed to focus my mind and allow for peace to enter my heart through meditation and prayer. Prayer sends the message out, meditation allows for you to listen to the answer. Next, I needed to realize that it wasn’t me, it is her reaction. I don’t own that. For me, writing how I feel helps, so I wrote a letter, that never was mailed that emptied me of emotions. I cried through it, I grieved the relationship as I knew it. Lastly, I needed to ensure that I learned from it and gained the gift from the relationship. That took some time, I needed to reduce anger and hurt to get to that point. Once I did, I could find the gift in it and find the learning. I probably hung on too tightly at points and didn’t allow her to have her space, I was so excited to have a single friend to do things with! I was so excited to have someone who I thought was sort of in my corner. I probably pushed harder than necessary. I understood that. The gift? That was simple, I learned a lot from her. I learned how to react in certain circumstances. She has a brain that is brilliant and so I loved to listen to her thinking. I learned about myself through the friendship.
Letting go of an illusion is difficult, especially if you are focused and attached to the outcome. My greatest lesson of 2018 is to detach from the outcome, and enjoy the journey and process. I’m still learning it, but it is getting easier.
Let go of the illusion that it could have been different and ease into the knowledge that it is as it should be.