Many of us struggle to let go of relationships, or parts of them, that no longer serve us. We hang onto all kinds of threads in order to get the attention from them that once validated our worthiness or desire to feel wanted, or anything of that flavor.
One time a past lover of mine and I were both at an out-of-town event together, and we met up for a bit in the ‘living room’ of my hotel room. We were done being lovers and our friendship felt really good, but there was still a part of me that wanted him to be attracted to me; that wanted to be validated in that way. It was sweet to see him and we had a great conversation, and after he’d left and we’d said goodbye’s, I turned and saw something on the floor. I walked over and picked it up, and realized it was his socks.
I stood there, in the middle of the living room, holding his socks in my hand and looking at them. I could feel this intense, immediate and visceral impulse to run out after him, saying “your socks, your socks!”
Now, this would have been a fine thing to do, but I could also feel the part of me that wanted to do it in order to extend our connection, to hug one more time, and so that it wouldn’t quite be goodbye yet. It was subtle, but I could feel it, having spent the last several months really paying attention to witnessing this part of myself, without acting on it.
I paused, standing there, in the middle of the living room, looking at his stocks. Then I thought, “Oh, I don’t need to run out after him, I’ll just bring them to him next time I’ll see him.”
Again, not a big deal, but as I had that thought, my witness mind showed me so clearly: “Really Kendra? You’re going to pack his socks in your suitcase, take them home with you, wash them, remember to bring them next time you see him, and then give him his socks?”
There’s nothing objectively wrong with this, but I laughed at how I thought that might be the better, or more letting-go, response than running down the hall and giving them to him.
Still standing there in the middle of the room, looking at his socks, having these impulses and thoughts, and simultaneously witnessing them – my next thought was, “Or you could just put them in the trash.”
It wasn’t some dramatic attempt to push him away, it was this sense that I really could just put them down; that I could just put this whole thing down.
That I could drop all the little attempts I’d tried to keep the thread of our lovership alive.
I could just let it go.
There was part of me that felt sad about that. I felt the loss of no longer having an excuse to feel connected, but I could also feel this giant release. So I walked over to the trash, put them in, and walked away. And I felt free.
Then an extra beautiful thing happened.
The following day I had an opportunity to talk to him and again, and I once again felt the impulse to tell him what had happened with his socks. Once again I could see & feel how that was just the desire to create that energetic thread all over again. “Let’s connect about how I wanted to stay connected to you, but I dropped it. See? See how over you I am? Let’s connect about that.”
And then I had this clear thought go through my mind, “Don’t pick up the damn socks Kendra!”
I saw how this moment of ‘picking up the thread’ and sharing about the socks was exactly the same as the actual socks the night before. So I didn’t. I let what was genuinely there be true—that I had a lot of love for him—and I let go of the place that wanted to be more connected than we actually were.
I felt so very free in that moment.
Watch the full video and leave your questions and comments below:
Like what you're reading?
To receive relational practices and posts like this, sign up here.
Not sure how what comes into my inbox from you always seems to be exactly relevant to my life, but thankyou.
I am glad this is supportive…..
Beautiful. How do you let go or even begin to let go of this thread when you want nothing more but make the thread stronger? How do you let go of a relationship that is so dear to the heart and it wasn’t your decision to part. I have to let go and it’s tearing me apart. Thank you
Ah…my Love…I so understand this feeling!
There is a quote by Daniel Saint that goes: “if you wish to be a warrior prepare to be broken.
if you wish to be a explorer prepare to get lost, and if you wish to be a lover prepare to be both.”
There is giving a relationship everything you’ve got & being prepared to fight.
And there is letting go when it is not what you would choose for yourself.
These are two sides of the same coin – they are both ways of actually loving the one you say you love.
Without knowing more of the circumstances, it’s hard to say more.
Lots of breath.
Practice softening your heart, even as it breaks.
Know that you will not actually die.
Continue to bless their path & your path, equally.
I have found your suggestions helpful today. Being an Enneagram #2, I want to fix it and make it all good, so boundaries are hard to deal with. I have a friend, a lover, a confidant, and beautiful human being who has established boundaries, “…because I love you”. Though I understand, and feel that it’s right and good, I miss her and our hours of endless conversation. Thank you for letting me read and come to some understanding.
OMGoddess, how I see myself in your story! It helps ease my shame and pain. Thank you for your exquisite writing and loving tips on how to navigate this earth school relationship journey while staying true to ourselves.
Wow I have seen and felt this in me so many times. Two of my closest friends are ex lovers and I still feel it at times, this desire to be so special to them and for them to still desire me. I am currently experiencing strong visceral reactions to wanting to have a reason to reach out to my last lover who I just ended it with a little over a week ago. To have some excuse to talk to him, even if it’s about how I am trying to have an excuse to talk to him. And it’s so so hard to fight inside, it almost feels like I’m pushing against my biology it feels so strong….but I know it’s because it’s become so deeply embedded in my system and my patterns and this strong desire for any type of validation.
I loved that story and I was literally just writing about how I am anxious about seeing an “almost partner” at an event I am working next weekend and how I want to feel, what I want my self container to look like. In this space of reflection I was being very real and honest with myself about how I was feeling, what I was seeking, what I wanted from this.
And your sock story spoke directly to all my feels.
I am sure I will hear your voice next weekend “Just put down the damn socks Melissa”, and I will thank you in that moment!