The pain of “familiar things”

I hope you find it in you to walk away from the ‘pain’ of lovely familiar things.

Even the friendliest of flowers can have thorns over the time

I used to own a pair of ankle boots that I loved so much. I must have owned them for at least five years.

They worked so well for me when I first bought them. They were leather — shiny brown leather. Perfect for the days of rain, perfect for the sunnier days, and certainly always perfect for days when I needed a bit more confidence, and those were many.

There was this one thing about my perfect boots, though. They hurt. They hurt so much I could never wear them for two days in a row, although God knows how lovely that would have been if only they weren’t so painful to walk in for more than 2 hours.

How much these boots hurt me never stopped me from “owning” them with pride. I still kept them anyway, and as a result, had to suffer from immense pain in my feet over the years I had them. There was just something so familiar and warm about them, making it extremely difficult to let go of my lovely boots — my shiny, brown, painful boots.

My mom once heard me put them on, making noises that I would sum up in relentless repeated ouch’s. She asked me to get rid of them or perhaps donate them, leave them for someone who would actually enjoy wearing them. The next day I said goodbye to my boots. A little girl owned them and she couldn’t be happier. I, on the other hand, couldn’t be more relieved. I missed them so much, but I was finally comfortable again. In fact, I bought a new pair that fit perfectly, and soon enough, I’d forgotten about my brown boots. I still remember them from time time, but mostly I just feel glad I did myself the noble favor of “letting go”.

How dangerous and wrong is it to fall into the trap of “familiarity”?

We keep possessions, stay with people, and adopt habits that are just very, very wrong for us, only because we know them so well, only because we don’t know how we’ll do without them, only because we’re not sure we’d be the same people after they’re gone.

The trap of familiarity is not a one time thing, unfortunately. It is a continuous pattern that spreads vastly into every aspect of our lives. Soon, we find ourselves stuck with people we love so dearly, but aren’t any good for us. We find ourselves in the company of an abusive partner, or an emotionally unavailable partner, or simply a partner who isn’t right for us, only because we’ve had him or her for so long, that now it seems unthinkable to walk away.

We find ourselves falling into a bad habit, like smoking, or overeating when distressed, simply because it’s all we’ve known, and we don’t know how our lives would look like without these habits that have taken us in and helped us through difficult times, even though we know too well that these habits are slow, evil, sly killers. But they’re familiar, they feel like home, they feel like “us”.

Familiar things are lovely, of course. They are comfortable to have, and they are easy to deal with. They are predictable and calm without any surprises. The unknown, on the other hand, seems vague and scary…But is “painful” familiarity worth losing ourselves for?

I call upon you, friends, to not be fooled by the comfort of familiar things to the point where you find yourselves comfortable even with their pain, breathing in their fumes as if they were rose scents. Do not be afraid of the “unfamiliar”. The unfamiliar holds the equal chances of both good and bad surprises, and that is perfectly worth a shot.

Escape the danger of the familiar things that hurt you everyday. Staying is not noble, it’s not heroic, and it does no one no good.

Do not be afraid to admit that the thing you have loved and nurtured for weeks, months or even years is wrong for you. Do not be afraid to admit that the person you have loved and invested yourself in is actually a beautiful being, just.. not for you. Do not be afraid to let go; you will thank yourself for it years later when you come across the equivalent of what you let go of, just healthier, more beautiful, and most importantly, more suitable for you.

This goes out to my former lover, my former best friends, my former job, and let’s not forget, my lovely brown boots; I hope someone who can love you better finds you, and I hope someone who loves me better and hurts me less finds me.

One of my favorite singers, Ingrid Michelson, sang so gracefully once for her lover whom she felt was wearing her down despite her love for him. She said:

“Baby you’ve got the sort of laugh that waters me
And makes me grow tall and strong and proud…and flattens me
I find you stunning, but you are running me down
My love’s too big for you, my love
My love’s too big for you, my love…”

I hope you find it in you to walk away from the ‘pain’ of lovely familiar things; even the friendliest of flowers can have thorns over the time.
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