On Letting Go & Moving On

Crystal Jackson

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We’re done, you and I.

All the dust has settled. Broken hearts have nearly mended. You can move on and find someone else now, as I always suspected you would. As you should. I want you to be happy, after all.

She will be many things. Beautiful. Smart. Kind. You will move toward her like the sea moves toward the shore, and she will be many things.

But she will never be me.

She will have a laugh that you’ll love. You’ll fold her story neatly into your own, the way you once did with mine. You will make new memories to edge out old ones. You will create a just-for-her space inside your life.

But my space will remain.

She can be everything to you, but she will never, ever be me.

Which is probably a good thing for you. And you’ve probably guessed I feel a certain way about it. I will always feel a certain way about letting go and moving on. But feelings are just feelings, after all.

If I can let go of you, I can let go of anything. Including feelings that arise when I know your life will fold someone into it until there’s no longer even an empty space that was perfect and me-sized.

For a while, it was a perfect space. I could curl up inside it and feel safe the way I never had before. But it was temporary. A holding space. A waiting room until your life could no longer hold me, and my life could no longer hold you. You will move in new furniture, pack away old memories, and every cell in my body will hate being relegated to the past, even when I chose it.

I check myself against our history, how we became something other in the end. I remind myself that as much as there was a version of you with love shining from your eyes for me, there was also a version that held little other than contempt. How that was as much you as the other. How I shrank against that stare as much as I once rose to meet your love.

I remember us the way we were. All the ways. Not just the ones I want to hold on to. It doesn’t help.

I wrap my arms around myself to hold on to something, and I know that I’m holding the only thing I won’t have to let go of, the only person guaranteed not to leave. I am mine as long as I’m living. There’s comfort in that, no matter how cold it feels right now as I watch everyone moving toward someone somewhere.

And I am moving, too, but inward. I am opening doors and cleaning out cupboards. I am sweeping out dust and opening curtains. I keep going deeper, and everywhere I turn is a relic from my past. This memory. That one. I am relegated to the past while I keep opening mine up. Not to live in it. To heal from it.

I know myself well enough to understand that there is a part of me that doesn’t want you to move on, not yet. That wants to hold on, for a while longer. That wants to stay where we are, even if it’s nowhere in particular.

But I know too well how I can care for the weeds choking me. I know too well that I can become the vine wrapping around you, too. And if I want you to be happy, I can’t hold on. Not to anyone but myself.

So I will tell you this instead:

You should move on and find someone else now. I want you to be happy, after all.

She will be many things. Beautiful. Smart. Kind. You will move toward her like the sea moves toward the shore, and she will be many things.

She will have a laugh that you’ll love. You’ll fold her story neatly into your own. You will make new memories to edge out old ones. You will create a just-for-her space inside your life.

I will be relegated to the past, as I should be. She will become your present, maybe your future, as she should. You will leave me behind, and it will be alright. You will be happy, and it’s all I ever wanted for you.

Just be happy.

For the first time, I understand what it means to want to have my cake and eat it, too. Because I want to keep you perfectly to myself, this beautiful thing that was ours, and yet I want to be able to move on myself one day when I’m ready.

It’s selfish in the most human of ways. To know that I love you but can’t be with you and still want to keep you all to myself. How foolish- the human heart!

So, instead, I’ll unclench my grip from our past. I will let you move toward someone who will never be me. I will feel the sharp edges of that knowledge for a while, the way you told me you were going to and took it from supposition to solid fact in a way that felt a little like a knife through my heart. I will take out the knife, knowing I placed it there, not you. I will own my own feelings, and I will not make them your responsibility. I will love you, from here, and I will let you go.

And, in letting you go, I will move toward what’s meant for me. Someone or something. A whole beautiful life rising to meet me where I am. I will be happy in a way I could never be holding on. Happier than we almost were before it fell to pieces.

No, she’ll never be me. But she’ll be lucky to get the version of you that you couldn’t be with me. She’ll get the best parts, and you will understand finally why no amount of trying to make us work ever could succeed. Because she is for you, and I was just a moment on the journey toward her.

Be happy.

I will be, too.

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Crystal Jackson is a former therapist turned writer. She is the author of the Heart of Madison series and a volume of poetry entitled My Words Are Whiskey. Her work has been featured on Medium, Elite Daily, Thought Catalog, The Good Men Project, and Elephant Journal. When she's not writing, you can find her traveling, paddle boarding, cycling, throwing axes badly but with terrifying enthusiasm, hiking, or curled up with her nose in a book in Madison, Georgia, where she lives with one puppy and two wild and wonderful children. Crystal writes about relationships, mental health, parenting, social justice, and more. Never miss an update. Subscribe to emails: https://crystaljacksonwriter.substack.com/

Madison, GA
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