No One is Looking: On Letting Go

Heathcliff and Cathy Earnshaw Pictures, Images and Photos

So I continue to take part in #Reverb10, a 31-day write-in. Here’s today’s post.

Day 5 Prompt: Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why? (Thanks, Alice.)

This year, I let go of Kevin.

Kevin is the name of the man I really and truly fell in love with in college.

He helped shape the way I saw men, and myself in relation to men. For better and for worse.

I loved him in that messy Catherine-and-Heathcliff sort of way– very mistimed, playfully mean, and muddied, with many external entanglements on either side scraping at the both of us. We were never really involved in the traditional way. We were apart, geographically, but it seemed like no matter where Kevin lived, he perennially claimed that “best lakefront view” campsite in my heart.

Even after Colin and I had been together, I remember times when he’d crop up in my mind. I’d putter around in my memories and old journals with him again, reliving the best of the unstable years. Before email, I wrote him letters. Then came email, which was cold and awful and made everything less frequent.

I sent him an email this past winter, as I did do every year or so to update him on life. It bounced. He had quit the university where he had been so long. I remember feeling like I’d come around the corner of my own soul town and found an entire subdivision it abandoned, rolling with tumbleweed and trail dust.

Some research (not that dedicated… just occasional Google searches), and I found him again, of course. On Facebook. Duh.

We exchanged a message or two. He is not Facebookish, so he exists there in still life, profile pic unchanged. Staring.

Despite the reconnections, the more time went by, the less often he haunted my moors. With the new developments in my life — not the least of which was that I turned 40 last year (I was 20 when he and I met!) — and his raison d’etre in my life seemed to have become ghostly pale. I’d have to force myself feel the melancholy — to search for it — instead of being instantly transported at the thought of his name.

Sometime about a month ago, it occurred to me:

“I don’t need him anymore.”

It didn’t come like some tsunamic revelation. It wasn’t a huge relief. It was just one of those mini ah-ha moments. Sort of like when you are cleaning out the fridge, and you realize: “You know I guess I can just throw the containers away this once. No one is looking.”

It makes things suddenly, inexplicably much easier.

That doesn’t mean my mind won’t wander back to the moors now and then, I suppose.

This post is part of a daily writing project called #reverb10. Find out more & join in this creative exercise here.

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  11 comments for “No One is Looking: On Letting Go

  1. Alicia
    December 5, 2010 at 7:35 pm

    I am looking. Beautiful words. I am reading a novel right now and though I do not know the ending, I can imagine it going a little something like this Its called One Day by David Nicholls.

    • December 5, 2010 at 7:45 pm

      Thanks Alicia! I love a good book recommendation too.

  2. Michelle
    December 5, 2010 at 7:40 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post! I have been in the same boat for 20 years. I thought I was the only person on the planet who did this! I am still trying to let go and I’m 36 years old. You give me courage to just do it and trust that I will be able to live on without him.

    • December 5, 2010 at 7:44 pm

      Thanks for the reply. I will never be WITHOUT Kevin in me… he’s a part of who I became as a person. Knowing that made it easier to let go.

  3. December 5, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    I also have a Kevin. And his name is Kevin. I found a picture of him the other day, shirtless, with the Utah sky at his back. He was only in my life for two years, but he is the reason I moved to Alaska, and he stays with me in so many wonderful and horrible ways. Loved this post.

  4. Lisa Hill
    December 6, 2010 at 2:22 am

    Good for you, E! That’s a healthy choice. I still have that beautiful dream hanging in my mental closet that I believe I’ll get to wear one day.

  5. Nellie @ Wired, Witty, & Well Dressed
    December 6, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    Wow. This feels so real. Thanks for writing this. I’ve read so many reverb10 posts about letting go of personal issues and wondered if I would come across one where someone let “someone” go. Your revelation is profound. I love your description. I think many of us have been there. I let go of my Kevin in a very gradual way… and with it came so much sunshine. I had no idea. Great post!

  6. December 6, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    Great post! I think a lot of us have had the relationship that sticks with us long after it should. Mine also really shaped the person I am today – making me a better wife and appreciate my husband more that I would if I’d never met my Kevin.

  7. December 6, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    I love your description of letting go of Kevin as being like tossing out the containers from the fridge, very nicely done.

    I’m glad you’ve let him go, even if he was no longer looming large for you. I hope you’ve filled that little space with something fabulous.

    • December 7, 2010 at 7:55 am

      Thanks Christine… it was meaningful to feel him go. Like watching a balloon caught in a tree suddenly get unstuck.

  8. December 21, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    This post drew me right in. I felt your attachment to the relationship and then frustration and eventually the turning of the tide to freedom.

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