December 5 – Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?
This thought occurred to me frequently throughout the Marathon; occurs often throughout my every day. But it has become the go-to phrase in my head whenever letting go has come to mind. Or, the big letting go, as the hallmark release of this year has come to be known.
The letting go, of course, does not refer to the quantum of things I have released this year: my marriage, large parts of my pathology with food; the job that allowed me to leave my marriage but made me miserable. Those things were all released, but they were much longer in coming, with a much longer lead time, and a lot more room to process. Rather, the term, in my head, refers to letting go of a friendship that sustained me throughout many of my early days in New York, and in recovery, but ultimately, proved too toxic to carry on.
The trouble began last Christmas, when I was still split between New York and everywhere else, but based primarily in Manhattan again. After nearly a decade of Christmases in Connecticut, I had declined an invitation to spent yet another holiday in Fairfield County. Too triggery; too much of what I was trying to get away from — regardless of the warm company, and good food, and wonderful cheer that were expected at Christmas ’09.
I thanked the hosts, booked a trip to see friends in the Caribbean instead. Whether that was right or wrong — I don’t know. But it was the right choice for ME, and at the time, I was very much living the One Day at a Time reality of a newly single, emotionally wrecked person. It was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other. I didn’t have the mental capacity to please others.
So that was the moment that made it clear, after a series of near-misses and misunderstandings, how very far apart this friend and I had grown. She had not been able to see that I really needed to space to heal; and I had not been able to provide a more graceful, kind, caring “out” for myself — which, admittedly, I owed.
But things have soured further since then, and this year presented that relationship as an ongoing challenge — along with keeping my own life afloat; building my new post-Andrew life and discovering Meredith As Herself; and focusing, for once, on my career instead of my husband’s.
There were myriad reasons that this friend and I ultimately separated — Christmas being only one of them, and perhaps a poor one at best — but ultimately, I had to release my hold on the line that had sustained me. I won’t take a sanctimonious stand; or a humble stand; or any other stand on the facts, except to stay that it happened.
When you have cared about someone for a long time, you beat yourself up when things end. You ask a lot of “Why.” The thing is over, but it is still very much alive in your head. And that was the funny space I was inhabiting for a long time. It took up my time; it made me angry. I’d get text messages and hear news and it would send me into a funk — not because of the substance of the message, but because I was hamstrung, and couldn’t do anything about it.
When my training for the NYC Marathon ramped up in the fall, however, and I had no time for anything but sleep, eat, breathe, RUN…the all thoughts of the relationship — and what I could or could not do about it — fell from my mind. I was singularly focused on making it to the finish line. When I stopped thinking about relationships in a vacuum, and I just started…living, I realized how much more time I had on my hands. There was space for Me. Less guilt; less fretting. Fewer worries. I felt better.
It wasn’t some moment of epiphany, brought on by a runner’s high, or the just-crossed-the-finish-line moment of clarity. It was simply erosion, over time. Which is sad in a way, but perhaps the natural course, too.
And while I am not tethered to the earth or to moments of living through this relationship as I once was; and while I frequently feel the pain of the loss of this friend…I know that letting go of my death grip on the situation will give me, and her, room to breathe.