Lately my blog posts haven’t been coming to me until I’m in the shower after finishing my first workout of the week on Monday morning at Pure Austin. So the Sunday plan hasn’t been working out so well.
This morning was no different. But it also came right after a dream that I couldn’t shake all day. I’ve lost a lot of relationships over the past half decade and this was one of them. A significant one. One that I was never given the closure I felt I needed. Those are the kind of things that creep into my dreams. People and things that have gone unfinished. There was no definitive end. Things just fell through and got so bad that going back would be too hard or inconsequential for one of the two parties.
Sometimes we have to let go of what’s killing us, even if it’s killing us to let go.
When a fire happens, there’s no chance to go back and say goodbye to things. You can’t grab those pictures and take your time looking around to appreciate all the memories the walls hold. There is no space for a satisfying conclusion. A completion of all that it took to get there. A definitive ending. It’s like when a good tv show ends on a big cliffhanger and then gets cancelled. (I’m looking at you The Last Man on Earth and The Mick, thanks Fox) I’ve had too many relationships that have left on a cliffhanger. I knew it was the end, but it wasn’t satisfying.
Probably how a lot of women feel after sex.
Revisiting Old Times
Sitting in my events to respond to on Facebook was a reunion for a company I worked at in my early thirties. The event list included about 20–30 designers I worked with building mobile apps. I knew I wanted to go, but I also knew some might not want me there.
See, back at the end of my time there, I left the studio with a lot of damaged relationships. But that’s a story for another time. It’s a 5-parter. So, in trying to decide whether to go or not, I shot a Marco Polo to a friend who’s been a big help in my steps towards recovery through vulnerability. Another friend I worked closely with at the studio, who was there when the shit hit the fan. My first friend told me to evaluate my intentions and if it was genuinely to see people I cared about, to not let fear and shame determine my choices. The other told me to not try and cross a burnt bridge. To let it go. Move on.
What made the decision for me might have been an old fashioned. But I had a strong desire to piece together anything from the ashes. Really, I felt like I left things unfinished. I didn’t get the chance to leave on a good note and have the last say.
I talked through a friend today about this blogpost and was telling them that I wanted to go to that party and show that I had my shit together. I wanted them to know that the shit I was going through was a bad reflection of who I was. That the relationships I was careless with are valuable to me, even if there’s not much there anymore.
Torn Between Amends and Moving On
My good friend of almost 30 years invited me to his final step in the recovery process. It was an opportunity for him to publicly share his story, of which the people in the room were a part of, along with others, their story and those invited to hear from them. I was part of my friend’s step 9, where after step 8 of making a list of people that they had hurt or held something against and now were making direct amends with. I sat in a room with a few of my friends as we heard his story and the process he had been working through.
Ever since then I’ve always liked the idea of confronting your past and making things right with those you’ve hurt. But there are times where people have long moved on and making amends becomes beneficial to you, but not for the other person. Going back to that place isn’t something they are willing to do. I really don’t know much about this at all. But I know this other side, because in an attempt to reconcile with someone, I was told that it would be better for them if I let it be. They had moved on and digging up the past when they would rather keep it buried, would be more selfish than helpful.
But sometimes the shitty way I’ve treated people just comes back to me out of no where and I just think, “Man, I really just want to look at them face to face, let them see my heart and let them know how much regret I have over the hurt I caused them.”
But sometimes I have to accept that the closure I want is something that no conversation will give me. There is no tidy wrapping up of the past. It’s always going to be there. While I think it’s healthy to seek reconciliation for wrongs done and hurt caused, there’s also a point where I think there’s not anything left for me to do, but to let it stay in the past.
Here’s the ugly truth. There is no letting go completely. But there is no closure. The people in your life, the situations in your life, will forever be a part of you. There’s no closing the book on a section of your life. There is no moving on from it. It will always have a space in your heart. It will always be a hurt or a joy and probably a lot of both when you look back on a certain period in your life. That’s ok. It’s ok to hold a special place for what once was. That doesn’t mean you hold onto it, refusing to let it diminish. To not be a part of your present. That transition from present to past is a painful one. But pain isn’t bad. Pain is growth. It’s part of moving from the present to the future. So we can’t force it in the present. But we can keep a place for it in the past in order to allow it to give growth for the future.
Monday night at 7:30pm and the dream is still as vivid as it was when I was asleep. I don’t know what brings me back to these people I cared about and have lost. While I know I can hold onto the good memories, I can’t hold onto those people. So I have to be ok with things not having a happy ending. With relationships lost. With friends who were there for a time and now I just have the past to influence my dreams, as if I’m Joel in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, that it’s ok to let go of an ending. To end on a cliffhanger. To never get satisfying ending to that story.
Not all stories were meant to have an ending. But that doesn’t mean they weren’t good.