Small Talk: "Leaving" People in 2017

Alex Elle's Journal Questions |
Alex Elle's Journal Questions |

I was answering Alex Elle's journal questions for the end of the year to do some reflecting on 2017. I realized how much I had grown last year and I wanted to document that. The most interesting thing was looking back on old journal entries at times when I was going through something. I was surprised to find I had already written so much of the wisdom and advice that I've only just recently come to understand. It had taken me months to actually internalize those truths and take my own advice. I've learned that you can't rush the process of healing or growth. I used to get super frustrated with my friends when I saw them going down paths I knew would end bad, but they wouldn't follow my advice until it got bad. I did the same with myself, too. I would grow impatient when I still couldn't get over someone who was bad for me. For some reason, humans don't work like that. We can't just change with the snap of a finger or flip of a switch. Often times, all we can do is plant that seed of growth and let it bloom when it's time. Back in January of 2017, I said I was really going to work on having more love and respect for myself. But, it wasn't until the summer (and one more f*ck up that was really a wake up call) that the mandates I had set for myself actually started to manifest. And, that's okay. Even if you know you should dosomething, you have to be spiritually and mentally preparedfor that change. 

So, when I got to the last question, "who and what are you leaving in 2017", I was so ready to drop the names of the people who hurt me this past year in a fuck you list. It was a small one consisting of the people who totally crushed my spirit for months, who fundamentally changed how I operate on this earth. They came to mind immediately because those time periods of my life were completely formed around them and our interactions. In my journal, I had deemed them undeserving to be part of my life.

I paused after I'd written their names.

What is this whole concept of leaving people in past years, dropping people in an instant, and a desperate attachment to total detachment from our emotions?

My friend shared a great quote with me from the movie Call Me By Your Name:

In your place, if there is pain, nurse it, and if there is a flame, don’t snuff it out, don’t be brutal with it. Withdrawal can be a terrible thing when it keeps us awake at night, and watching others forget us sooner than we’d want to be forgotten is no better. We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster than we should that we go bankrupt by the age of 30 and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to feel nothing so as not to feel anything—what a waste!”

You carry your experiences with you always–especially the ones that make the biggest impact. To pressure yourself into letting go, forgetting, blocking things out, etc. is unrealistic and painful. It's erasure. For me, those bad experiences forced me into evolvement. I dare to say they were necessary for my growth and journey into a deeper self-awareness, love, and care. Because it wasn't until I learned exactly how I didn't want to be treated that I started to understand how I should be treated.

Now, I'm not saying I feel grateful for those who caused me pain. I feel no love for the people they decided to be at that time. But, to "leave" them and those experiences behind I feel is to also leave who I am today behind.

I think a better answer to that question would be that I want to leave the remaining bitterness, anger, sadness, frustration, and fear behind. But even that is not something I can automatically do just because it's the first day of a new year.

The truth is, if you really could just drop that person from your life and mind, you would have done it already. You wouldn't need a new year (which, in reality, is just another day) to do that. So it's important to ask ourselves if we're actually ready to move on from something or if we're trying to rush ourselves through a process so we can avoid feeling anything. Why deny yourself your humanity? I think to live in that constant conflict is worse than any pain you're trying to get away from. Like I said earlier, no matter how much you know you should do something, you will never do it until you're ready anyway.

So, I haven't forced myself to leave anyone in 2017. I'm going to allow myself the space and time to process, heal, and grow. I won't put a deadline on when I'm supposed to stop feeling. I won't be mad if I still find myself, up late at night, thinking about the experiences that changed my life.