If there is one place I feel at home in every city, it is in a bookstore. There is something so welcoming and warm about bookstores to me, especially those that are locally-ran. I can always find a nugget of wisdom. A word to carry me through the day’s fatigue. A chapter that resembles my own but that promises hope.
Today I walked into a bookstore because I had to buy coffee. Long story short, it was all I needed to buy and I figured if I went to Target or a grocery store as hungry as I was that I would come out with 583848 food items that would probably go to waste. So, today I walked into Barnes & Noble which sadly is the main bookstore here in Bismarck (or at least the one I know of). Just for the heck of it, I looked at a few books. I have been leaning towards fiction lately for some reason. In the last 5 years, I think I have read ONE fiction book (thanks for that recommendation, Kimberly – and no I still have not finished it 😂). I am currently on my second one in five years and I am actually enjoying it. But that is a review for another day.
As I grabbed my coffee grounds on my way out, I noticed a new nonfiction book called To Love and Let Go: A memoir of love, loss, and gratitude. I was drawn to the book. I opened it as I usually do to take a glimpse and see if it would interest me. On the page I happened to open up to in the middle of the book, I saw this quote:
“If you’re ever at a crossroads, ask yourself which choice is more loving. And then go do that.”Rachel Brathen, Author, To Love and Let Go: A memoir of love, loss, and gratitude
Little did I know how much I needed to read that. God knew though.
Here is the thing: this past week I have felt as though I am at a crossroad. Last year I experienced a tremendous loss of a friend whom I was extremely close to. He and I understood each other in a way that was atypical, but it just worked. We were cut from two completely different cloths but our differences somehow faded away when we were together. We had a falling out about a year earlier but had reconnected after a few months. Truthfully, I loved him. I loved him for how he was different from me. I loved him for the way he showed me affection, even if it was in a completely different way than how I did. I loved him for how he challenged me. I loved him in a way people did not understand and that they could not have. I never told him that.
The sad truth is that during that time I painted a pretty picture for him. I painted a pretty picture for everyone. Yet I was so incredibly insecure and lost. I was so concerned about pleasing people. I was so scared that if people saw who I had become (especially when I was in my addiction) that they would leave me for it. He was one of the ones that I was scared to show this side of me. I was so afraid to lose him. I lied to him over and over about stupid things, things that literally did not even matter. I lied to him about things that did matter too. I did not see potential consequences for my actions, I only saw consequences that would happen if I DIDN’T lie.
My reality and my viewpoint of others was so skewed. I was still in addict mode! I was an addict in a sober person’s body. I was so blinded by what I faced in my addiction: lying, cheating, using… that I started to view everyone, especially men, as though they were going to do the same thing. I viewed him like that, and I made myself so paranoid about it that I would say mean things about him and do things that were so against my own values. The truth is, I should have been doing what I am now back then. Be honest, admit my faults, and correct my wrongs. I should have communicated my needs and stuck to them even when it was hard. Instead, I ended up hurting myself and someone I loved very, very much.
So, what is the crossroad I am at you ask? A year ago Sunday (June 13th) is when he walked out of my door for the last time. It has been a year since then. A year of grief, loss, heartache, pain, but also grace, joy, soul, and love. Every piece of me wants to reach out to him. I have entertained the thought the last few days too.
Yet today I read that: which choice is more loving? And I know which one it is. It is the road of letting go. I hurt him. I hurt myself. Even though I have made so much progress, I am still not healed from the pain I put myself and others through. I have still not forgiven myself. There is still so much I am working through. Would reaching out do any good? Maybe… but maybe not. Maybe showing him the love I did not ever tell him about comes in the form of just letting go. Letting him live and heal and enjoy his life. The memories, the history will always be with him too. It is not lost just because we are no longer part of each other’s lives. He definitely shaped mine. Nothing can change that either.
Maybe one day I will come to a similar crossroad. Maybe I will be in a completely different place in a completely different time. Maybe. Until then though, I am choosing to make the choice that is more loving. It is not easy. But sometimes it hurts more to hold on than it does to let go. So, I am letting go.
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