Click here for audio version.

Dear (____________),

I love you, but I’ve got to let you go.

Each time our paths cross I open my heart with renewed hope that it will be different somehow. And each time I walk away feeling empty.

My dear (____________), I realize now that at some point, I gave away my power to you. I was rebuilding my life, creating it piece by piece, and in all of its uncertainty and tender roots, I shyly let a chosen few in to tread softly and take a peek. I wanted to share my trepidation and fear and doubt and exhilaration and sheer anticipation with you. So I gave you permission to validate me. In no small way I longed for it. But it never came. Judgement came, followed right behind by the critic who doubted me and questioned my choices. I let you crush me, if only for a moment, but in truth the residual sadness lingered for a couple of years. It took me just as long to understand the part I played in my own pain.

As I continued to change and grow, radically transforming myself and my life, my light grew brighter. At my best, I could be a virtual flood of joy, gushing with excitement. When I would see you, I would bring all of me, but then feel the need to immediately auto-correct, adjusting to the darkness as if walking in from sunshine. I would level out somewhere in the middle. Adapting, always adapting. I began to see just how hard it was for you be around happiness or positivity.

Inch by inch I pulled away from you, unable to trust that you could show up for me without your bag of resentment, a toxic mix of bitterness and anger at how your life had failed you. It seeped out all around you. It filled you up with nowhere to go but out. And I was an easy target, wasn’t I? So pollyannaish, so hopeful, so trusting. Soon those pangs of jealousy and envy became hard to hide. You may not even be aware. But I know that each and every time you spoke those words out loud and behind my back, they came from a place of hurt deep within you. Sweet (____________). I forgive you.

Somehow you’ve resigned yourself to thinking you can’t have what you long for. You’ve put those dreams on a shelf, high up and out of your reach, out of obligation. You don’t have the luxury of pursuing them, do you? Of this you have convinced yourself.

Yes, (____________), I have changed. My boundaries are stronger and I can no longer invite you into my world. I only share my life now with those who can celebrate and uplift me; inspire, encourage and teach me. Those who honor me with their presence when I am down and listen deeply with compassion, not comparison.

I will always love you unconditionally, (____________). I will always wish you well. And if you ever tire of dragging around your luggage full of disappointment, I will cheer you on when you decide to unpack it. Should you ever desire to pull that dream off the shelf and live your life wholeheartedly, I know the way. I will be your guide. You see, (____________), there is no other way to truly live.