On Love and Letting Go

Letting Go

For many, love is a two-sided coin. It can strengthen or stifle, expand or enfeeble, perfect or pauperize. When love is returned, we soar. We are taken to heights unseen, where it delights, invigorates, and beautifies. When love is spurned, we feel crippled, disconsolate, and bereaved. Polish the coin and you will see only requited love on both sides. I was destined to love you and I will belong to you forever.
– Colleen Houck

The question of the day is this: do we ever really let go of the people we have loved and lost?

Most of us in our twenties (and even younger) have felt a substantial loss of some sort. And when has losing ever been enjoyable? A soccer match, a chess tournament, a pet, a lover. Losing is never easy. But as I’ve gone through multiple long-term relationships now, I have to wonder if I really let go of the ones from my past. The bigger part of me wants to say no. And not in a way in which I would sit at my windowsill pining after them – what I mean is that all of those individuals that have come and gone have made me into the person I am today. Love, no matter how long it lasts, transforms you. Love is not a tangible item; it is not even a connection – but it is an experience. It is a myriad of experiences. It is the most fortunate accident that could happen to any of us.

But whether you walk away from a person or they walk away from you, a part of you will always carry them with you and vice versa. You let a person have your heart at one point – you let them get so close as to perform irreversible damage and provide you with unequivocal happiness. And the experiences – the love – you had with them, when he or she walks away, those experiences are exchanged for memories. Memories and the inevitability of what comes next. Most often, our former lovers remain as a lingering echo – we cannot ignore the cataclysm of events. We have to feel – both the enduring love and the present hate, and we can’t help but remember. Love and hate are two sides of the same coin, after all.

Even relationships that are long buried away can come back to haunt us. I still find myself at times remembering fleeting images of him pressing his hand against mine, I can’t help but suffer from those small moments of knowing his idiosyncrasies – remembering that I used to know him better than any other person. And love itself is not expendable – we cannot choose when it expires, when it runs out. When my ex and I ended, I went on loving him for so long just as I had loved him for so long before we were ever actually together. He went on to love someone else, but for better or for worse, I went on loving him, in my unrequited misery and all.

And just like that, I am unhealed again. You never love a person more than you miss them. That is for damn sure. And it is because of this very reason that I believe that we do not truly let go of our losses. Each loss we have endured becomes a part of us, and subsequently so do the individuals we have lost. Time bandages our wounds, but it never lets us forget – it simply removes the haze and the tear-sodden pillowcases and in return, it gives us lucidity once more. The Bible says that the Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away – but really, Time giveth, and Time taketh away.

For each of us, at one point or another, we gain the bravery to let someone burrow their way into our hearts, and when they escape, the hole remains. But what I have come to realize is that there is no shame in remembering the people that loved us and fell in love with us – it’s what owed to us for having the strength to pull ourselves out of the darkness. We see ourselves through the worst of it all.

Mainly, we don’t really let go because we have no power to force ourselves to forget. We can claim compartmentalization; we can say we are over it, but love and loss have to run their course. Things rarely turn out the way they are “supposed to be.” We are so fragile, how can things possibly turn out perfectly? What we can do is know why we lost someone in the past so that we can keep the one that comes in our future.

No matter what, we are surrounded by ghosts. Like I said, these shrouded figures used to live in the light of our lives – they used to be the light of our lives. They opened us up to seeing ourselves, gave us the clarity to muddle through the mess of life, and changed us. For better or for worse. They exposed us, appreciated us, and sometimes they weren’t always what we wanted, but they were exactly what we needed. And because love really is just a bunch of experiences, we never lose it. It exists, it lingers, it mattered – and matters – to each of us, more than we could possibly imagine, I’m sure. The loves that have left do not take away the love that filled and fills our hearts, souls, and every single one of our crevices. The dimples on your cheeks, the smile lines marking your eyes – someone gave you those; someone made those appear. And that doesn’t fade purely because the physicality of that person left. Their intangible presence remains. The experiences remain. The memories remain. The love remains.


  1. Really well written and thoughtful! And ohhhh how many times do I become unhealed myself! Loved this piece.

  2. simplyshardai says:

    Funny how words have a way of craving into our souls more than physics objects. This was right, right indeed.

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