How to Let Go

by Emily Schrems

I woke up and he was there. He was in the elevator on the way down to the lobby and in the car next to me on the freeway. He was there in the empty doorway where my frequent gaze awaited his arrival with excitement and angst. He was there, when the absence of him screamed louder in my soul than his presence once did. He was there, until one day I realized he’s wasn’t. Like a shadow, always seen, but just out of reach. A slow torture of what once was. A hollow inside that echoed the sound of his voice and played slideshows of his smile, and the way his arms felt around my waist at 3:57 AM when my dreams awoke me to a sweeter reality of us.

Letting go can be a bitch. She shows up to your door, awaiting your confrontation of the fact that it’s time to move on: from this, from “us”, from what was, and from what should not be. But right here is just so cozy. Right here, next to the scruff of his cheek, the faint echo of his whisper. And the only thing that feels worse than the echo is the silence in the absence of the whole thing entirely.

There is an art to this whole thing, to letting someone or something go. But I can’t quite figure out how to rebuild a sculpture that once stood strong without the thing it stood firmly upon. I guess that’s really what letting go is – rebuilding.  The uprising of fragmented self, each piece finding the other, as if the parts of our being were magnets that eventually come back together to create one whole piece again.

The challenge in all of this, of course, is not that we will come back together, but how. How do we build a life when the one thing that held it all together is not part of the blueprints?

My discovery has been and continues to be born in the release of a relationship that escalated far too quickly for me to realize I even had something to let go of when it was over. But here I am, trying to let go of it all. And these blueprints of rebuilding without him prove the challenges of how.

Freebirds, I think this is the point – that letting go is hardest when you don’t think you have something to let go of, because you don’t, until one party walks away and all of a sudden you’re staring at a blueprint without instructions. Then what do you do?

The following thought process has been my starting point. Perhaps it will bring life to you too:

Letting go this thing will have power over you for a little while. It will demand space in your thoughts and maybe a little sleep at night. It might live in the smiles of the happy couple in front of you at a baseball game. It might linger in the smell of a freshly lit cigarette outside of a bar, or in the hand of a man that presses the bottle to his lips one too many times. It might sting for a few moments or more, but it won’t stay forever. With each passing day, the haze of Point A in your two-point journey to freedom will begin to lift and you’ll see blue in the sky and new life inside your heart.

Letting go demands patience and persistence. It cannot be achieved over night or in a week. It demands girls’ nights with ice cream and bad movies. It demands coffee dates with a trustworthy listener who isn’t afraid to hear that you don’t have it together all the time. And by the way, those are the moments that make it real, and in hindsight, make it beautiful. It demands self-discovery because this discovery is what will make sense of all these blueprints for rebuilding. I keep reminding myself of the beauty in it all. Letting go opens the door for transformation; it fuels self-discovery; it creates endurance and persistence; it sheds light on the strength each of us embodies to rebuild without the thing that once before made our world make sense. No, letting go isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.

There will be a day when he doesn’t exist in the elevator or in the car next to me on the freeway. There will come moments when I don’t ache at the thought of him. But it’s a process, and you, on the other side of this screen; we’re in this together. I can feel my hand loosening its grip on the dreams that danced like children in a candy store because I was significant to him. Maybe for you it’s a different story. Maybe my “him” is your “she or it.” Whatever the case may be, the process remains the same. It might hurt like hell. It might be hard, but hold firm to the assurance that there will be a day when you can look at the subject held firmly in your grip with an open hand, having let it go completely from your life. And if you just need a friend to hold your hand along the way, my inbox awaits.


To Him: An Open Letter

by Emily Schrems

I hope you don’t think about me. I hope the memories we share no longer run through your body like shards of glass. I hope your heart never aches for the sound of my voice.

I hope the cardboard moving boxes that fill up the room we used to hide under the covers in do not bring my scent into the air and my smile to your mind. More than anything, though, I hope you cherish who we grew to become together but cling more desperately to the man and woman we perpetually and intentionally choose to become apart.

Please take a look into your future and choose to see beyond the void I once filled; see yourself accomplishing more than you ever thought possible.

The love I have toward you is quite the unique love now. I wish to be a part of your story in some capacity and I wish I could be the woman you wanted me to be; the heroine you made me out to be. But you can’t un-write the harmony of a hurricane that I am. We’re different now. Older. Wiser. Better. Separate from one another, creating the lives we were intended for.

I used to say I’ll always love you and I used to mean it. I was sure there would always be a timeless chapter in my story with your name on it. It’d be the one I’d read on rainy days of reminiscing; the one my daughters will hear about in the midst of their first heartbreak. I’m learning however that you are a moment in my past: one that will not influence my future. You are a significant moment, but a moment nonetheless. You’re not my whole story. And I’m not yours.

I hope you don’t reserve room in your heart for me, because somewhere in the gorgeous universe is the person with whom I’ll adventure through the rest of my days; the person who’s world will collide with mine; the person with whom I’ll laugh with forever; the person I’ll weather the storms and share life with, all of it.

Though the love we shared was enough to bring us together it was not enough to keep us there. It didn’t move us or challenge us. It didn’t inspire us to be better for one another. And that is not the love I would ever choose eternally. I cannot say I’m sorry to realize that our fluent love, respect, and admiration for each other are not enough. If I won’t run to the ends of the universe for us, it is not the love worth fighting for.

You will meet the person that makes gravity a fake because she is now the force that keeps your feet on the ground and head in the clouds. Hers is the heartbeat that will guide you to the sweetest slumber. The sound of her voice will flow into your ears like ocean waves that kiss the shore and guide your heart toward home. I am not that girl. The waters in my ocean are far too wavy for the peaceful glass-top your soul prefers. I give you permission to let me go with full confidence that you will find the way to your gravity.

With numbered days of loving you,