Letting go of something or someone you love is one of the hardest things to do. I’ve had to let go of people, animals and “stuff” throughout my life, and I’m here to say, it can get easier. —Carolyn J. Braden
I wrote the quote “I will love you forever and ever, and then some more” on September 26th, 2018. I wrote it the night I had to put my 15 1/2 year old beautiful American Eskimo, Vegas, to sleep. I cried about it (on and off for an entire day), and talked to my husband about it a week prior to having to do it. It’s like I received a message from someone in advance so I could gain enough courage to do what had to be done. I wrote (and created art) about it here.
Recently, the quote made it’s way back into my art. I didn’t know exactly why until this week. I figured out I had to let go of a long-term business relationship. In order to do so, I knew I had to have a difficult conversation. No one likes having them, but sometimes they need to be had. (By the way, I dislike “ghosting” and wrote about it here.) Difficult conversations occur in romantic relationships, parent/child relationships, sibling relationships, workplace situations, businesses and more.
I prepped exactly what needed to be said (the complete truth) and then executed the conversation. I had a lump in my throat in the beginning, but as the truth flowed, it got easier and easier.
I used my own tried and true method that I’ve created over the course of my life. I didn’t even know my method was a “method” until I worked for a large company that taught a course called “Difficult Conversations”.
One thing I know for sure is that all difficult conversations take practice, but can be very effective.
I call my method Difficult Conversations Laced With Love, and here it is:
Start with a “neutral truth” to ease into the conversation.
Discuss a “hard truth”, something that needs to be said, even though you know it probably will cause them some pain.
End with a “feel good” truth, which is to help the person understand you care about them.
During the entire conversation, allow the person to respond, but do not react to how they respond. Let them talk, even if they are responding out of pain, pause, and then continue the conversation.
The last thing I said before ending the conversation was “I love you.” I’ve known this person for over 15 years and care about them, so it was appropriate. It wasn’t said back to me, but I understood. The person was probably hurt, but I pray time will heal. I also believe we can stay connected somehow, but the business part of the relationship is over.
One thing I’ve learned about letting go is how to be very honest. When you let go of a relationship, honesty is the best policy. You won’t feel guilt if you’ve been honest. I’m not talking about brutal honesty, but just plain and simple honesty. Some people will not love the honesty, but they’ll appreciate it. Some will despise the honesty and lash out.
I’ve had several relationships in my life end when I tried to be honest, but they wouldn’t hear it. They denied everything, got angry, blamed me for everything (took zero responsibility) and shut me out. Today, they’ll probably tell you I shut them out or “cut them off”, but that was never the case. I’ve tried and tried and tried with people, NUMEROUS ways, until my limp heart just couldn’t take it anymore.
Though this made me sad (and I still hold a little sadness in my heart over the situations) I still pray for those people every day.
I pray for those that caused me pain, for I know they are in pain themselves.
No matter who I’ve let go of, I will always feel love for them. Love is really all that is left after letting go. Love doesn’t go away. Love lingers around forever. It’s sad to me when I hear about an ugly divorce situation. I always think “You loved that person at some point, so why are you being so ugly now?” I can only think that the ugliness comes from pain.
The next time you find yourself having to have a difficult conversation, try having one laced with love. Try my method I’ve discussed in this writing piece and practice, practice, practice. Try practicing the conversation with a friend or family member before you execute it. My husband helped me prep for my most recent one, as I had to speak to the person on his behalf too. When you develop what to say, stick to your plan. Have the conversation in-person OR over the phone, as they both work. Texting, snail mail or email? Take your chances with that if you must, but it’ll happen much quicker and be much more effective if you do it through an actual personal conversation.
You’ve got this. You deserve the closure and the other human does as well.
Extra Info About Letting Go of “STUFF”:
When you let go of “stuff”, honesty works well too. Before I think about donating or selling certain items, I always ask myself “Does this still bring me joy?”. If I answer it with “No”, then I let it go. My reasoning? Why should I continue to hold onto anything that does not bring me joy? Why should anyone?
Sending my love and light out to anyone who needs it!