By: Eman Alawadh
How far do you go for the ones you love?
Do we know where it starts and where it ends? Or where it should end?
In life we are exposed to relationships of different natures. We make friends, we bond with relatives, we become attached to a love interest or sync ourselves with work relations. All these relationships present themselves to us differently during the course of our lives. Some come as joys and comforts, others come as lessons, and some pass through lightly without ruffling our feathers.
It is the relationships that dig deep and leave scars that consume us the most; some even to a point of becoming what defines us.
So when do we know when a relationship needs to be put down? There are the obvious signs in some relationships where the situation is toxic and it starts poking away your dignity – those are pretty simple- but no-one should allow themselves to be subjected to abuse no matter what the nature of the relationship is. But there are others that get torn out of our chest without closure, almost without reason. How do we know when to stop and let go?
By letting go, I mean to be at peace. To have reached closure and put out hope from your heart. To stop waking up every morning asking yourself if you should have done something differently and if it would have changed anything.
It’s a daunting cycle. You decide to keep it to yourself eventually because you don’t want to be the person who is still obsessing. You don’t want to voice the pain. As if getting on with everything will make it go away. You wake up, go with your routine, have a great time; it’s almost as if all is good and you are whole again.
Then, something funny happens and you laugh to yourself wondering how the other person would react, or have something important happen to you and you rush to lift your phone to share it with them. And it hits you. Cold, hard and unforgiving. And there it is again. Your pain. Raw and unrelenting, it reminds you that you no longer get to do that. You no longer get to share any of it and you start asking yourself ‘why?’. You relive it all; you almost want to pull your hair out asking yourself if it could have been different. Then, to sedate yourself, you get busy again and off you go until you’re back at the point that knocks the air right out of you through the hole they left in your chest.
I find it crazy that a lot of people can walk away from significant relationships and attempt to deny that it hurt. They attempt to be unmoved and act out like nothing ever mattered as a way of preserving their dignity. But is that sane? To try and say that a relationship that took up a significant space in your life suddenly has no meaning to you? What does that say about a person?
I think we can choose to end relationships or accept that they have ended without masking our feelings. I think we can learn to be mature enough to admit that something like that has brought us pain, but that we are okay and working through it. I think we can also accept the idea that we can still love people after we have made peace with letting them go.
I also think that in order to reach that point of peace and acceptance, we need to know that we tried everything we could to save the relationship we lost.
I was stuck in a dilemma at one point when I had lost a friend who was a big part of my life. She was not only a friend or sister, she was literally my other half. Where you saw one of us you would see the other. She would be the first person I would tell anything to; sometimes the only person that mattered to share things with. We had to move apart from each other for a reason beyond our relationship as friends, and it was the most difficult thing I have ever done. Some people understood my pain and respected it, others expected me to just get over it or pretend like it didn’t matter.
It drove me insane. What do you mean it doesn’t matter? Who am I kidding? Whether ending a valuable relationship is for the better or for the worse, it matters. It hurts. Whether it was your choice or wasn’t, it hurts. It leaves a gaping hole in your life and in your heart and it takes time and a lot of practice to learn to fill that hole.
And it hurts not because you have nothing else in your life, but because that person mattered. If you truly love someone, they’re irreplaceable. It’s not a job vacancy that comes up and you can hire the next best candidate. It’s different.
The dilemma I had gone through was when to let go. When to stop trying. When does it go from loving fiercely enough to do all it takes, to being stupid enough to keep knocking on a brick wall? That’s what we need to ask ourselves. Have we tried enough? Or have we tried too much? Are we beginning to lose pieces of ourselves on the witch-hunt that is attempting to keep our relationship alive? That’s when you know. When it’s costing you more to give than get back, it’s time to move on.
Relationships are too complicated to tag them with one emotion. You can’t just say ‘I’m angry’ or ‘I’m hurt’ or ‘I’m relieved’. Sometimes they come all together, intertwined in a storm that confuses you, not knowing where your anger ends and hurt begins and somehow at the same time you just plain miss them.
Learning that you can let go of someone and still love them is a very hard yet peaceful thing. It’s painful to love someone from afar, to have the familiar elements of your lives be reduced to nothing but memories. To look through photo albums and feel a tug at your chest that tears you between wanting to flip the page faster and wanting to smile that those memories existed.
People love differently and people hurt differently and we need to respect that. We need to respect that fate meant for us to be together for a reason at a period in our lives and that the world decided we needed to grow on our own, and in order to do that, we need to be apart. We need to understand that you can tuck away your hurt and bitterness and accept the end of a relationship as what it is but still be happy for each other and wish each other well. Because, at the end of the day, you spent a lot more time loving each other than hurting each other. The end of a relationship doesn’t deny everything that it once stood for.
A lot of people go through their whole lives not knowing what that closeness and comfort with another human being can feel like. For me, I am grateful that I do. It takes a lot of debating in your head and in your heart to reach the point where you can see that.
So if you’re hurting, if you’re missing someone and afraid to admit that you do, it’s okay. Feel all the ways you need to feel and let all those raw emotions pass through you and wish them well. “Never wish them pain. That’s not who you are. If they caused you pain, they must have pain inside. Wish them healing. That’s what they need.”- Najwa Zebian