It’s time to unclench…

It's time to unclench... by Keri Kettle

I was sitting in a booth of a local Mexican restaurant when I heard two girls slide in to the booth behind me.  One was on the verge of tears, saying, “I called you because I need someone to cheer me up, I’ve been crying for days.”  Her friend responded with “Let’s get you a shot of tequila!” [Note:  if your job is to cheer up a crying person, tequila is a really bad idea].

Crying Girl says to Inappropriate Friend, “I called him just because I wanted to know where he was and if he was okay, he asked me why the hell I was calling him, can you believe it?! I know we broke up three months ago, but I still worry about him!” Inappropriate Friend made noises of agreement and shock that the cad had responded this way. [Note:  if your friend is still calling her ex three months after a break up just to “find out where he is”, the appropriate response is not agreement, it’s to suggest therapy or a lawyer – because this is the slippery slope that leads to restraining orders.]

The waiter comes by and starts off by asking how they are doing tonight.  Crying Girl responds, “I’m not good, I’ve been crying for days.”  Inappropriate Friends says cheerfully, “We need shots!” [Note:  if you find yourself telling the waiter that you have been “crying for days”, you are not ready to be in public, you should be home under the covers with some Netflix. Not to belabor the point, but tequila is only going to make this night worse for everyone in this story. I see drunk-dialing in Crying Girl’s future, cheerfully encouraged by Inappropriate Friend.]

When you don’t want a relationship to end, it’s hard to unclench the grip that’s holding on to someone that is trying to get away.

Sometimes people come to see me 5, 7 or even 10 years after they got divorced and they are still fighting. That’s a long time to hold on to a broken relationship.  It always makes me sad to see people latched on to each other for dear life without noticing that the one thing that will make life better is to let go.

There are going to be people in your life that you can’t let go of, even if it is a difficult relationship.  You might have difficult people that won’t let you go or you might have difficult relationships with people that you are stuck with – the father of your children, your father, your children, the mean and incontinent cat your kid left behind when she went to college that lives on for decades.

Holding difficult relationships lightly creates more space for compassion.  Teenagers are often prickly and difficult.  Parents of teens are told over and over to “not take it personal” and “let the attitude slide off you like water on a duck’s back”.  That’s good advice for ex-spouses and mean cats, too. Keep your distance, a level of detachment and a sense of humor.  Unclench.

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