We've all been there. The relationship we'd outgrown a long time ago. The friendship that no longer feels in alignment. The job that feels toxic from the moment we walk in the door. We stay, we hold on, we meditate or pray - hoping that some key piece of the puzzle will magically fall in to place. If it did, it would somehow justify everything we'd been through.
The other day, I came across a photo of myself from about 18 months ago, and could not recognise the woman staring back at me. The look in my eyes, the strained smile, both hid (somewhat ineffectively) the sadness in my heart at not living or speaking my truth. A life of playing small, doing whatever I could to 'make things work' and absolutely betraying every whisper of my intuition. Until one day, I took the big step - and left that life.
Fast forward to now, where one of my dating adventures has come to an abrupt end. After four magical and passion fuelled weeks, things began to take a strange turn and I was asked to once again accept less than what I deserved. That old incarnation of me wanted so much to take it, to feast on scraps as I had become accustomed. However, this time, I said goodbye - even before I was ready to. This time, I knew to listen to the flashing red warning signs and the fact that this person was not ready to accept me entirely as I am.
Here's my radical realisation - I could feed into stories of abandonment in my head. Of feeling as though I had done something wrong, once again. Or, sit on the couch eating peanut butter ice cream and watch Netflix through streaming tears. Rather than pull out my Alanis Morissette albums or swear never to date again, I allowed myself to feel what I needed to feel. I went through a period of grieving what could have been, and then - I softened.
I've recently come across the concept of softening being a sign of spiritual maturity. Softening around the harsh edges. I thanked this man for inviting a feeling of love into my life that I had not experienced since my ex husband. I expressed gratitude for the good times that we had shared. We promised to always be there for each other, as we not only had mutual friends but lived close by to one another. This doesn't mean being in constant contact or holding out hope that something may change.
It's been a beautiful experience to honour myself, and to honour what transpired between us - with grace. If you're needing to say goodbye to something or someone, listen to your heart. However, rather than lash out and drag everyone around you down, soften into what you're grateful for about the experience. You don't have to tell the person directly, it could even be in a letter that remains unsent. It's amazing how much less stress it involves and clears the path for what a new day may bring into your life. The very definition of mindfulness in action.
Yours in softness