The Art of Holding On, and the Art of Letting Go

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In all of my visions for my own future, I didn’t really see a divorce coming. When I got married, I thought that was it; it was going to be all comfort and support and shamelessly farting around each other until one of us died. And sometimes, it was.

When my soon-to-be-ex-husband told me he was leaving me, it took awhile for me to scrape myself up off the floor. It took awhile to pack his shit and send it off. It took awhile for me to realign my hopeful vision of motherhood and wifely love with my new reality of solitude and sex. And it took awhile for me to realize that this was the best possible outcome.

***

I have always loved living alone. There is something to be said about a space that is fully yours, where you can let people in and turn them out at will. When my ex moved in, I mourned the loss of my own space. After all, this is a one-bedroom, and although it’s huge for San Francisco, it’s small for two big personalities. I have always loved marching to the beat of my own drum, and although I will do anything for the people I love, I am still an anxious insomniac who needs both a lot of freedom and a lot of attention. It’s hard when you’re so focused on meeting someone else’s needs that you’re not meeting your own.

But I tried.

He tried, too.

***

I held onto my marriage far longer than I should have, because I thought it was forever. I am loyal and faithful to a fault; so is he. That is the art of holding on: stubbornly sticking to your partner through the good and the bad.

The art of letting go is much harder. The art of letting go requires that you surrender to the moment, that you are so open to how things might manifest that you accept they might not turn out how you always thought they would.

So here I am at 34: soon to be a divorcee, without the family or home I thought I’d have.

But I am also soon to be a literary agent—something that came about only when my ex left me. I am dating again, and the first kisses and first touches are so heady. I forgot what it was like to be kissed in public; I forgot what it was like to be picked up by a big man and pushed up against a wall. I forgot what it was like to smile all day after one incredible date.

It is hard to let go of the dreams I once had. It is hard to think of myself as having lost the chance for having a family, for financial security, for the comfort of coming home to someone. And maybe I have.

But I am pretty sure I haven’t.

***

I am letting go of the dreams and financial security that I once had, but I am holding on to my hope for the future. I am holding on to my belief that I can do this—whatever “this” is.

As Julian of Norwich said: “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

That’s a quote I’ve held on to my entire adult life, starting with my research into medieval death and resurrection symbolism, and through my worst breakup, law school, and now this divorce. This medieval mystic has never led me astray before, and I see no reason to doubt her now.

Now is the time for loud rock music and working in a bookstore; now is the time for redecorating my apartment into the sex palace I deserve. Now is the time to lean on my friends and family, who have been so kind that it defies description.

Now is the time to be grateful.

I am trying not to be wedded to the outcome.

***

I might not be good at letting go. I am an Enneagram type One, and a Scorpio, and an INFJ. My deadly sin is anger: I can seethe with righteous resentment until it takes over my entire being. I am angry at a lot of things, especially injustice in all forms.

But I’m working on it. I’m not so angry, anymore. I’m actually looking forward to my new life.

And things are looking a lot brighter.

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