Each day we make choices – some small – some large- but we make choices as to what we hold on to and what we let go off. What we let go of in the process of holding on, determines the outcome of whatever it is we are attempting to create.
The song The Gambler (Kenny Rogers) says, “You’ve got to know when to hold up – know when to fold up – know when to walk away – know when to run.” I do not gamble, yet have to agree with the lyrics. In life, one must acquire the ability to walk the fine line between holding and letting go.
As I contemplated leaving the marriage that I entered without much forethought, I did so with fear. I was afraid of not turning every stone. I was so very terrified of being “let go” that I held on with all my might.
In the courtship, I held on through the emotional abuse. My grattitude for his presence allowed me to accept responsibility for his actions. I “held on” to how special I fet when I gained favor in his eyes. My constant attempts to prove that I was good enough, to regain the “favor” fell short each time. Running a race once simply cannot win, can be exhausting, especially when one is unable to see that the finish line gets further and further away each day. Shortly after entering into marriage he insisted upon, the emotional abuse turned physical.
Initially, I held on to the idea that if I could be the person the man I married said I needed to be then everything would be fine. Eventually, what I came to understand, is, that person simply did not exist. The more clearly I came to see that, the more difficult things became. The more difficult things became – the easier it was to let go. Make no misunderstanding, letting go is never easy, there was simply nothing left to hold onto.
I had to “let go” of my marriage in order to “hold on” to what was left of the family that we created.
As I watch my sons grow into young men – without men to lead and guide them down the manhood path – I sometimes question the choice I made. Ultimately, however, the choice to leave my marriage is one that I do not regret.
That my daughters are living with their mother does not leave them unaffected by my choice. The absence of their father from their lives affects them in many ways as well.
In the quiet moments, I ask myself the following questions: How will the ways in which they will relate to men be affected by the choice I made? How has my choice affected their self- esteem? Will my choice to “let go” of an abusive situation be the underlying cause of their (potential/possibly) eventual choices of emotionally unavailable, emotionally, and/or physically abusive men? Should their answers become yes to any of the aforementioned questions, is it simply due to what they witnessed prior to my choice, or because of my subsequent inability to provide them with an appropriate adult relationship role model?
(Wake up people life is NOT a LIFETIME made for TV movie where the abused woman meets a suave, sensitive, rich man who marries her, loves her children, and they all live happily ever after.)
In all fairness, I realize now, (especially when I ask the aforementioned questions) that when vacillating between holding on and letting go, one must often think outside themselves. I am not the only one who will live with the rewards, benefits, and/or consequences of the choices that I make, the ripple effect extends to more than just the waters upon a calm serene lake.
In my children’s eyes, I see the pain of abandonment by a man who, although intentionally making a choice to create them under the covenant of marriage, in the end, decided to let go, not only of his responsibilities as a father, but with any type of relationship with them as well. Though I am not responsible for their father’s decision,(their lack of relationship) is an indirect consequence of my decision. Still, however, the choice to leave my marriage, involved holding on or letting go, and after serious considerations (one being safety) I had “no choice” but to “let go.”
I once saw a quote on a movie channel, “If you can’t live your life as a good example, then be a horrible warning.” I laughed loudly, and wondered if perhaps, the person responsible for writing the quote had written it with me in mind. I have seen also the quote by Theodore Roosevelt “The Man Who Count’s” which goes on to speak of the person who is in the arena whose “face is marred with dust, who even if he fails, does while, the critic stands on the side lines and does nothing…” I hope someday, they understand..in all fairness…in all honesty, I hope someday, I do.
My daughter told me, that if the turkey looks up during the rain, it can actually drown from taking the water in through its nose. In that moment, I felt again as if in some way, the universe was sending me a metaphorical message about “the power of positive thinking” in reference t my current relationship. I have spent so much time “looking up,” despite the rain, I failed to realize that I was beginning to drown.
For many years, I have “held on” to what I wanted to believe – the possibilities- about my signficant other, as opposed to actually seeing what’s there. I fell into the category described in the quote “there are none so blind as those who refuse to see.” Without even realizing it, I blinded myself to all that I did not want to see, because “holding on” to the idea of how things might be, was better than “letting go” of the possibility of us all together. If there is in fact a common ground, and if so, how does one find it before letting go all together? The answer to that question remains to be seen, as we do in fact, “teach people how to treat us.” I held on to the idea that I could create anything I desired if I worked hard enough, was flexible (“how far does one bend before they break”) and held on to my ability to believe in us. Sadly, however, that is not the case.
My need to “hold on” to the belief that he would eventually come to realize how good the relationship was, impaired my ability to live by my mantra; “words mean nothing, actions speak volumes.” My children have no relationship with the man who, from the onset wanted no relationship with them. By my words, early on, I said quite clearly, “I am part of a package and should you decide to remain with me, you must understand, that. If it is too much then leave now.” He made a choice to stay, more importantly, I allowed him. I made allowances and held on until such time, as I found myself in a position to make yet another choice – hold on to the last of vestige of your beliefs – or let go of yourself completely. In retrospect, letting go of my mantra was the first of, many things followed. Losing sight of that was more than likely the most significant.
Six years and a beautiful baby girl later, I can no longer ignore what I chose then, not to see; there are times when our need to hold on to possibilities of the way things could be supersedes our ability to let go. Again, I find myself at a crossroads, where I will soon make a “choice” to “hold on” or “let go.” I see what might have been, had there been one willing to “let go” and share his life with us. I “hold on” to the laughter and the good times in which there was hope that he eventually he would find us “worthy” of becoming his family and “let go” of the times in which I am blamed for creating a child that we both now love dearly. I let go of all that was important to me to hold on to this relationship. I let go of the idea of shared responsibility and the notion of equal partnership within a relationship. I held on to the idea that by letting go of what was important to me I was (somehow) proving to him that I was indeed a blessing in his life.
Again, I have come to learn that each time we “let go” to “hold on”, the next time, we have to let go a little more. For me, each time that happened, I lost a little more of myself. The saddest part of all, the only person my children really ever had was me, but I got a little lost, trying to “hold on” to someone who lacked the courage to “let go.”
I have now come to realize, holding on (all too often) means letting go.