Why can't I let go?
Why is it so hard to let go? People say things that make it sound so easy. Some people seem to have the blessing of forgetfulness.
Four years ago, I was in the hospital with Karen, while she was recovering from her surgery. Her doctor did something that all of us (me, Karen, and her mother) felt wasn’t right. I can’t speak for the other two, but I personally felt like it could be considered malpractice. Two weeks ago, when I was called in on jury duty, as I sat in the courtroom and listened to the questions that the judge and the lawyers asked the prospective jurors, I asked myself the same questions. One of the questions was something about whether you’ve had any personal experiences that you feel might make it hard for you to be objective on the case. This was a case where a patient was suing his doctor for malpractice. Immediately, I thought of this incident from four years ago. In fact, I’ve thought of it often during these last four years. And I came to the rather unfortunate conclusion that I think this experience would make it difficult for me to be objective.
I still feel some bitterness toward the doctor that was treating Karen. The ironic part is that what resulted from the undesirable decision the doctor made really wasn’t a big deal, and didn’t have any long-term effects on Karen’s health. So, there shouldn’t be any real reason for me to hold on to the bitterness. I would be surprised if Karen hadn’t let it go. And I would think the same for her mom. It might be more understandable for me to still hold on to these feelings if I felt that somehow Karen’s death was quickened by what this doctor had done, but I know that that is not even remotely plausible. And I don’t even hold the doctor responsible for her death in any way (this incident happened a year prior to her death), I only hold him responsible for his own arrogance and stubbornness.
But I find that this same phenomenon happens all the time--for even much more trivial things. Several months ago, one friend posted an article on my wall which was full of outdated studies and completely false propaganda about homosexuality, including STD infection rates and number of sex partners and everything. Needless to say, I was irate that he posted that on my wall. I sent him private messages for months following, telling him how I felt about what he posted, how it was false, and why it was so hurtful for him to post things like that. Why couldn’t I just let it go? Why did I feel the need to keep returning to him and expressing my hurt from what he had done?
I find myself often doing this. There are certain people that I email or message on a regular basis, solely for the purpose of lashing out in a similar fashion. Maybe they said something a while back that I want to refute for the umpteenth time. Maybe they hurt my feelings, called me a name, or said something that I felt was outrageous and irrational. But, I feel this overwhelming need to message them about it.
On a few occasions, I’ve had people tell me that there’s a specific topic that they don’t ever want to discuss with me again. This makes me absolutely furious. Why? Why do I feel the need to continue conversation with them, even when it’s apparent that further discussion on the matter is unlikely to yield any fruit? I don’t know. But I do know that I have this desire. And it’s not just a weak, back-burner kind of feeling. It’s like an obsession. It will often consume my thoughts. I word and reword what I’m going to say over and over again in my mind until I get to a computer or my phone and type it up. And so often it does no good, it only does harm. And often the most infuriating response is a lack of response. I have had several people simply ignore such emails from me, and understandably so.
There are few things that make me more upset than when someone ignores me. To me, when someone ignores me, it’s as if they’re saying that I don’t matter at all--that I’m not even worthy of a response. I can’t stand it. It’s affronting and insulting. How could someone be so cruel as to ignore me?
And I wonder if this feeling is related to the first one I shared. I don’t ignore people. When someone sends me a message, I reply. And, as I said above, sometimes I reply dozens of times. I reply for months to come. But the last thing I’d do is ignore them. In fact, many times I’ve even told myself that I want to ignore them and that it would be best for me to ignore them, or that I should ignore them because that will upset them. But I find it impossible to do. I might go a day or two--maybe even a week--of ignoring them, but then the compulsion is too great and I find myself virtually incapable of going any longer without replying.
Why is this? Why is it so difficult? Why can’t I just let people be who they are, and say what they think, and let it go at that? Why do I feel like I have to have the last word, like I have to convince them they’re wrong, like I have to show them why or how they’ve hurt me?
This is also true in the case of letting go of people, instead of just feelings/experiences. As an example, several people have unfriended me and stopped talking to me since I came out of the closet. And I’ve written about this before--here on my blog and on Facebook. A common response that I get from people is something along the lines of “Just forget about them. They just aren’t awesome enough to appreciate your awesomeness.” I find this wholly impossible. I cannot forget about someone that I’ve made a place for in my heart. I cannot simply let go of all of the feelings that I’ve engendered toward them. Especially when it’s an old friend or a close family member. I just can’t let go.
There are several people that have abandoned me, or have simply distanced themselves from me because of one thing or another that I’ve done or said. And it hurts. But, as often as I try I find I am incapable of pushing them out of my heart. Even if they are out of my life, even if I never hear from them again, I am fond of them and think of them from time to time. There are many dear friends in this category.
And there are also some friends in a slightly different category. These are people that I have personally pushed out of my life--maybe I blocked them on Facebook or simply told them not to talk to me again. And I still feel the same toward these people. They are here, in my heart. I cannot forget them. Even though I have blocked them or told them to leave me alone, I care for them. I feel them. They are dear to me. I cannot let them go. I cannot let go of my memories of/with them.
There are times when I feel that my heart may very well burst with all of the emotion that it contains. How can I possibly feel so much love, so much anger, so much frustration, so much fondness, for all of the people that I know? How can I contain it all? And why do I find it so difficult to let go? Why is it so hard for me to move on past all of the hurt and the pain? Why can’t I simply let someone else win an argument? Why can’t I just drop an issue, instead of rehashing it ad infinitum?