Any stroll through social media will leave you inundated with post after post and picture after picture related to “letting go”. We should “let go” of drama and tension and people who we deem as toxic and old relationships that no longer “fit” us. While I do know and have known people that have let go of truly narcissistic partners or truly toxic people, they didn’t “let go” as much as they summoned the courage to fight their fears and walk away. Unlike those who find themselves attached to truly dangerous people and who must find the strength to walk away, many today just abandon any person or situation that isn’t totally and completely validating and supportive. Labeling the act of abandoning anyone that doesn’t make you feel 100% awesome all of the time isn’t letting go as much as it is cowardly relationship ethics. When you choose to “let go”, you are choosing disconnection. Unfortunately, many choose to replace a difficult connection with people who only echo back awesomeness no matter what blithering nonsense is uttered. In the old days, we called it “fake friends”, but what do I know?
I work with kids and adults who were, at some point, “let go” and are the leftovers of their relationships. I work with people who’ve been abandoned and I assure you that they do not feel like those that left were justified in “letting go”. For the most part, they just feel that they were too much of a burden and an inconvenience for those that said that they loved them. Sadly, like so many that I work with, they don’t even hate those that “let go”; they’re too busy hating themselves – for being unworthy of another’s time and effort.
Nowadays, we’re in the midst of all the chaos that is left when all of us “let go” of people. Keep in mind, we aren’t doing it because they’re narcissists or toxic or abusive or violent. We are “letting go” of people because of who they voted for; or their stance on life or choice; or their stance on Constitutional Amendments; or how much money they make or don’t make; or who they love or don’t love. Maybe if we thought of it as abandonment instead of “letting go”, we’d see it differently,
“I abandoned my friend because of his hat!”
“I abandoned my cousin because of his rifle!”
“I abandoned my sister because of her trip to a clinic!”
“I abandoned my dad because he struggles to understand me!”
It doesn’t quite have the ring of altruism if we stop using “let go” with all of it’s implied nobility.
The truth is, you abandon you power to influence and facilitate change in another when you “let go” of them after judging them unworthy of your time and effort. On to better people…I guess?
Sadly, it’s not just people that we are abandoning and “letting go” of, it is also principles, ideas and ethics. We’ve “let go” of those pesky principles and lessons that so many died to protect and uphold…all in the name of our own emotional comfort and our own intellectual convenience.
We’ve “let go” of the lessons of the American Revolutionary War
We’ve “let go” of the lessons of the Civil War
We’ve “let go” of the lessons of World War I
We’ve “let go” of the lessons of World War II
We’ve “let go” of the lessons of the Civil Rights Movement
We’ve “let go” of the lessons of the Korean and Vietnam Wars
We’ve “let go” of the lessons of Desert Storm
We’ve “let go” of the lessons of 9/11
All in the name of our own emotional safety and sense of comfort.
I choose not to “let go” of the lessons or the people that I get to work with. Some of the lessons are hard and some of the people even harder, but the lessons are worth learning and the people are worth loving…even when I’m uncomfortable with them reflecting back my “less than awesome” tendencies. Maybe, we should work to “hold on” and “always remember” instead of rushing to facilitate our own comfort by “letting go” of anything or anyone who dares to challenge us and cause us to grow. Just a thought.