At 18, I moved to America. It was 1994. Long before Facebook, even before everyone had mobile phones like we do now, David and I kept in touch. The thread on which we tugged at each other came in the form of long distance phone calls and letters. My letters to him were messy, wild, over punctuated, dramatic accounts of my new life in America. I loved it, I hated it...I'm coming home, I'm staying.
David would call me from a telephone fixed to the wall. He would sit on the floor, ask about America and fill me in on the gossip from back home. He would tease me over things I had written, I would tease him over his Billy Connelly impressions, telling him he needed to update his jokes. We would talk and write about anything and everything and for hours on end.
For years, I kept David's letters in a box in my room. One day, while packing for another move, I decided I had too much stuff. I threw out notebooks, diaries, scrapbooks, posters... I threw out the box of letters from David. At the time, I thought nothing of it.
Until he died.
The last time I saw David, I was in a hurry and I rushed our time together. To my dying day, I will regret that.
At his funeral, David's sisters presented me with the bandana he wore and a large, brown paper envelope. In it, were all the letters and cards I had written him over the years. I can't even begin to describe to you the emotional weight of that envelope.
I carried it around for 10 years.
How long is long enough to carry a burden?
The death of any relationship where you showed yourself, warts and all to another person is hard. I have found that the same applies, even if a person with whom a relationship dies, is still living. The overriding emotions (for me) stem from how it ended.
Do relationships ever end well? NO. Because if someone is gone, vanished from your life permanently, then it's because something terminal happened and you're all out of chances.
And the most maddening thing of all to be left with, is regret.
What is letting go?
It's a decision.
It's when you drop the scoreboard. It's when you stop trying to redeem yourself. It's when you stop the persecution of yourself and/or the other. It's when you stop trying to right what haunts you as having been wrong.
How do you know you're ready?
You become aware. It becomes heavy... you just all of a sudden feel the weight and something emerges that you never sensed before. A desire to be free.
How to release a burden
My haunting regrets after David were disguised as guilt, it was huge.
One day, I simply decided it was time. Something in me knew it was ok to let go. It also knew how..
I held a private little ceremony. I took the letters outside, I burned them to ashes, let them blow away and that was that. I released the burden. I cried then and I cry now as I think about it, but I no longer feel the guilt. That is what it feels like to have let go. I can be sad and not guilty. I'm glad I know.
For every ending, there's a new beginning...
In a cupboard in my hall is a stack of diaries. They contain the pre and postmortem of a relationship, the regrets from which I've been hoarding for some time.
I've felt a new and confusing weight recently. I didn't know what it was until I sensed again, the emerging of a desire to be free and with it, a knowing that the source of this weight is in those pages. Only now is that clear.
I wasn't expecting this, so it's a pleasant surprise. I'm wondering what will my life be like without these stories?
I've carried them long enough.
It's time to let them go..
Always, Amanda xoxo
(p.s. I still have the bandana)