“Try not to confuse attachment with love. Attachment is about fear and dependency, and has more to do with love of self than love of another. Love without attachment is the purest love because it isn’t about what others can give you because you’re empty. It is about what you can give others because you’re already full.” Yasmin Mogahed
I had tied my identity into our relationship.
I was she. She was me. And together, we were “we.”
I had entwined my social, professional and personal identities with this concept of “us.”
Both our names appeared on the return labels of the letters I sent out.
Inside our Christmas cards, both our names appeared as silver-stamped signatures.
Knowing my place in the world was easy when I was married.
No matter how bad our marriage was, it was comfortable, certain and complete compared to the world around us.
If divorce or a long-term breakup creeps into your life and you’ve created an identity with another person, you’re about to experience a life-altering event – one that shakes your identity to the core.
I mean, who would Queen Elizabeth be without Prince Phillip? Who would Lil Dicky be without Chris Brown? Kim without Kanye? Donald without Melania? Ben without Jerry?
Your heart, mind and soul will do everything in their power to hold onto something that feels like a necessary part of your identity.
You can’t let go because you’re attached for your life to the people you loved. The threat of losing them threatens your very identify and life.
How do you let go of your deep attachments to the people who were once part of your life and heart?
1. Your heart can go on without another person.
Yes, your heart can go on. I know this with 100% certainty because I’m living proof of it.
A few years ago, if you had asked me if I could go on, I would have emphatically said no.
Yet 5 years later, 500,000 written words later, 10 published ebooks later, 5 moves later, 3 around-the-world journeys later, I can tell you without a doubt: yes!
You can go on!
To get through life, your heart doesn’t need someone else.
You are fine on your own and you can find love by yourself.
You were born as love and came into this world as a loving baby, giving love. That is your true nature.
For much of your life, you’ve masked the truth that you are love because the world hasn’t been particularly kind or loving to you.
It’s never too late to tap into that love that is already there.
2. Your identity does not depend on someone else.
Once again, I’ve found this to be true.
You know, it wasn’t that hard to write address labels with only my name. It was actually shorter and easier.
Also, Prince had an identity of his own.
So did Janis Joplin.
No, we’re not creative musical geniuses who changed the course of history, but you are a unique, special and one-of-a-kind human being.
There is only one you, just like there’s only one snowflake, only one raindrop, only one type of leaf.
You are you, even without a partner, relationship or significant other.
3.You are made of the same fabric as your ex.
How can you lose someone you can’t lose?
Imagine that you and your ex are clouds in the sky. If one of the clouds hides, does that change the fact that the cloud is there?
You and your ex, and everyone you know, are part of a greater universal spirit; a human threat that encompasses everyone on earth.
Our egos tell us that we are different and separate from each other.
Every spiritual master and divine guide who has walked this earth tells us the opposite. They say that we are all one; we are all representations of the greater divine fabric.
You may break up with your ex but to lessen the sense of loss, remind yourself that you haven’t really lost them. You can’t lose the cloud or the moonlight. It’s present even if some days you can’t see it.
4. Relationships and people are like nature.
You can learn to confront attachment if you simply view it as you view nature.
Nature you can handle but people, not so much. Let me explain.
In nature, creatures are born. They reproduce and kill. Other creatures eat them. There is a continuous cycle of beginning and ending. Lives end and life is birthed.
The weather is similar. The seasons come around like clockwork every year from spring to winter.
You and I don’t cry about these seasons that enter our lives. You don’t go into a deep depression because it’s the fall or because it’s winter. Instead, we learn to accept and celebrate each season of our lives.
You dress for the type of weather. You try to drive in the rain in California (rather unsuccessfully) or in the winter storms in Boston (quite successfully).
You don’t resist nature, the weather or the seasons.
You accept and celebrate the positive and negative of these cycles you have no control over.
Aren’t people and relationships like nature? Can’t we learn to accept and celebrate the good while accepting and saying goodbye to the bad?
5. You can fill the emptiness you now feel.
Removing your ex from your life has created a hole that you can now face.
Only when you experience this hole or vacancy in your heart can you do something about it.
Imagine that your whole life, you’ve been trying to fill this emptiness with something unhealthy or with some person.
Now is the time to acknowledge the emptiness for what it is. Instead of alcohol, drugs or people, fill this emptiness with yourself.
Pour in love, compassion and kindness for yourself. Learn to accept yourself and be loving towards yourself. Learn to stop criticizing yourself and putting yourself down.
You can heal only something that you know is broken. You can fix only something that you can see.
The breakup gave you this opportunity.
6. You can release the grasping and feel more free.
When you can’t let go, you’re continuing to grasp something you once had.
Grasping and being attached raises feelings of neediness, desperation and being stuck.
When you need someone else in your life, you’re not free. You’re at that person’s mercy.
You don’t believe that you can do life on your own. You believe that your identity and future are tied to the person you’re in love with.
Letting go allows you to breathe freely and take your life into your own hands.
You let go of the person by accepting that the relationship is over, similar to how you accept the weather and the seasons.
You can grieve for the relationship you had but you don’t have to hold onto the person you were in the relationship with.
Let go so you can breathe easily and free your soul from the prison you’ve created.
You can walk the path alone for some time before a more significant and loving relationship enters your life.
7. Letting go is not an end but a beginning.
This is an important way to view releasing attachment and letting go.
You can welcome in the new, grow and become anew only when you let go of the past.
You can choose to see the end as either the end or the beginning.
If you believe that the end is the end, loss, sorrow and pain will fill you. If you see the end as the beginning, you’ll see the end as the start of something special.
At the end of that last relationship, you’ll be ready for growth, development and more personal awareness.
You’ll be ready for a new life, a new relationship and new love.
You can welcome in the new only when you release your hold on the old.
* Photo by Dan Gribbin
For my book, 10 Sacred Laws of Healing a Broken Heart, pick it up at the Amazon store here.