It’s funny what we hold onto in the name of love.
My husband died ten years ago. Some times that seems like yesterday and sometimes it seems like a lifetime ago. It just depends on the day.
Part of my husband’s estate was his share of an old family farm. On the 200 acres are two ruined farmhouses and one that was almost livable. The latter was always in need of some kind of man-powered repair or woman-powered maintenance before you could actually spend the night in it, unless you went in blind-folded. But my husband spent summers there with his grandparents as a kid so he liked to go back a few times a year and recreate his childhood. He was the first-born son of the first-born son of the first-born son and our first born was a son so, well, I think you get the point. The farm is a patriarchal legacy thing.
How I ended up with some of it is one of those things that come with death. And I assumed our son would want to have a place there, to be able to come back to, as his father had, to re-live his childhood. When the in-laws became impossible to deal with, I began the formal process of receiving our share of the property with an attorney. I so wanted to make this a childhood dream come true. So I researched how to restore the old 1940’s house that had been abandoned. When that proved neigh impossible without a few spare million to throw at it, I began to research how to build a green, off-the-grid cabin for the two of us. I had all kinds of dreams for that space. And, I’m an organized dreamer, so I pulled images from decorating magazines, three-hole punched them, and kept them in a notebook. Then I read almost every article on line about building a cabin. I really thought I was doing my son a great service by planning his forever family getaway where he had fond childhood memories.
Only, he didn’t have happy memories of the farm.
What the farm meant to him was work, fighting, and heartache. Every holiday gathering descended into fighting among his Dad and his siblings about what to do with it. His Dad’s rancor over being the one to glue the seams of the electric or mechanical systems back together was unending. Myy complaints about the state of the farmhouse as I cleaned mice droppings off the counters and sprayed wasps nests in the bedroom, the vicious fire ant bites (as vicious as my sister-in-laws words to us, which is saying something), waiting for hours to go somewhere and do something fun as that trip’s necessary chore was finished so the building would still be standing when we came back, and the scorching heat of the South Carolina hill country did not make for happy childhood memories. Fancy that.
When we got the deed for our piece of the property this spring, he just wanted out. He wanted out of the arguing, out of the rancor, out of the heat. He wanted out of the broken dream.
Which meant that I had to let go again. Damn it.
It’s no wonder that after 10 years, I’m tired of doing it. I like to avoid it. I’m almost as good at avoiding stuff as I planning for it, how about you? But letting go is something that anyone who has loved and lost has to do. And often we have to do it more than once.
Letting go is not a one and done.
When you spend 20, 30, 50 years of your life with someone, a lot of stored up dreams get left behind. And you are the one that has to sort through them, touch them lovingly, and then let them go. You have to.
Holding on to broken dreams cuts your insides to pieces.
And you’ve been hurt enough by loss.
Take a look around inside your life. Are broken dreams cutting you up on the inside? If the answer is yes, and they can’t come true now, the healthy thing to do is to let them go. That’s one of the things we’ll be talking about at the retreat this August. I hope you come.
How about you? Is it time to get ready for what is waiting to be new in your life? In the end, letting go is easier than dying of a thousand cuts.