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.