After its long time suffering, I finally accepted its “passing on” and removed a dead plant from my office. As I replaced it with a vibrant, new plant, I saw the plant as metaphor for how we hold on and let go of relationships, and that to let go means having to accept the “death” before we can carry on.
Many of us, in the course of our lives, find ourselves in relationships that we are not ready to let go of, sometimes for a really long time. There might be a part of us that has known for a long time that the relationship is over, but we keep holding on and holding out in hope that the little moments of kindness mean that things are turning around. We might not be ready to accept the truth or reality of the relationship, or lack thereof.
My little plant had been in my office since the beginning of my practice; it holds a lot of memories in my mind and I hold meaning in the small things that are important to me. For the last couple of years, the plant has been slowly declining and I kept trying to water it. Though, honestly there were some days when I just choose to ignore it—I was too busy, or I couldn’t make it to the office (when Hurricane Irma came through, that plant went unnurtured for two whole weeks!). The plant kept declining until one day I looked at it and it had one little green leaf on it and everything else was dead. It was time to take action, I had to accept the loss of the plant…or at least recognize that I needed to do something different.
How many of us have had times in our lives where we didn’t want to accept things as they are? We hold on, we don’t want to let go, we ignore or live in denial until one day we have to face the truth. We have to accept what is right in front of us.
These moments can be heartbreaking, painful and can even bring us to our knees, but they are also freeing in some ways.
Freeing because something is changing, and we are moving forward. In the moment, I know it doesn’t feel that way: you might be devastated or hurting. I know it’s a very painful process, but I promise you it does get better. People might tell you the end of a relationship is for the best, but you don’t believe them at first, or you don’t want to hear it. You might hide, deny, and cry, at first, but you will find strength. You will find the strength to honor your feelings, and to make time to grieve—which opens the door to forgiveness. Day by day, you feel better.
With the plant, I had to let go and move forward. I had to realize my part in its demise too. I choose some days to ignore or deny that the plant was dying. I didn’t want to water or nurture it because there were times I was just “too busy.” It wasn’t until I had decided to finally pay attention to what was happening that I had to accept the reality of how far gone the plant really was.
In relationships, when we ignore the distance and disconnect, when we try to avoid or run away from conflict, when we stop engaging in the everyday to connect with our partner, the relationship starts to die. If we don’t nurture it, if we walk away from it or ignore it, we turn away from the connection and lose parts of the relationship. We must nurture the relationship every day, we have to pay attention and connect to each other even through the really difficult times in order for the relationship to survive and thrive. Just like with my plant, which needed to be shown love every day.
There comes a time when true acceptance has to take place and there is peace that comes with it. Your relationship to the grief has changed and you accept the loss, the change, the hurt and the freedom and the difference in your life. It doesn’t mean when you have a memory pop up or you go to a place you shared together there’s no feeling. It’s just different now. You feel it and experience new memories in the place that harbors old ones too. There is a sense of freedom, peace and letting go that come with it and it’s better because you aren’t angry or heartbroken anymore. Yes, you will have flare ups at times but you have learned to not be haunted by painful memories anymore.
To find true peace, you have to finally accept the reality. We have to forgive ourselves and love the parts of ourselves that made mistakes. We have to forgive our partners and ex-partners and let go of the relationships. Taking your power back is about finding peace and working through your own shit. Stop blaming and start healing. Find real gratitude for the gifts right in front of us and let go of the broken past.
I finally realized it was time to let go of the old plant and get a new one. In a relationship, we have to create a new relationship story, whether that is with the same person or starting fresh. The relationship has to change. I help people all the time start writing a new chapter in their relationship story; change is never a bad thing, we just get caught up in holding on to the old because of fear or uncertainty.
Once we grieve, forgive and accept, we can introduce new things into our lives and create new experiences.
Again, we can have a new relationship with the same person; we don’t have to cut ties completely, but both people have to realize their part in the patterns, what they are willing to do differently and to do the work. We also have to learn from our old mistakes, so we don’t get caught up in the same pattern.
I am already taking better care of my new plant. I understand my part in nurturing and caring for how it grows and if I just ignore it, it will die. Creating a new chapter in your book of life, is scary, exciting, painful and freeing all at the same time. We learn from past experiences, we challenge ourselves to face our fears, and we embrace the new reality of life.
My new plant sits in the place of the old but it brings color and life that is different from the old one. One had meaning in ways that this one will never share, and this one holds new meaning and excitement for what lies ahead.
Let go and embrace new beginnings.