It’s hard to say goodbye. As Shakespeare so aptly put it, “Parting is such sweet sorrow.” And in this life there is much to be parted from, often with much grief.
One man becomes suddenly, critically ill and must part with the idea of his youth and vigor.
One young mother loses her own mother, and must part with the idea of herself as someone’s beloved child.
One man parts with his wedding ring after his wife’s death, and lets go of the idea of himself as someone’s husband.
One woman parts with her home and possessions and adjusts to the idea that she won’t live independently for the rest of her life.
I’ve written about crisis and how it can change lives. Crisis forces a redefinition of who we are, and what’s important to us. Altering those fundamental views about ourselves is, no surprise, life changing.
Catalytic crisis requires us to move from the cocoon of “known-self” to “unknown-self”. Embracing the unknown is not something many of us handle particularly well… so, in the alternative, we cling fearfully, ferociously to our known-self.
Known-self may have worked for years. We’re comfortable with all the rules in known-self — and we can anticipate with confidence how we and others will act. Even if we know we’re unhappy in our known-self, at least we know what to expect! Who wants to upset the apple cart? But when clinging to known-self feels like pain, you will change it. Sometimes it seems it takes a crisis to show us just how ill-fitting known-self has become.
The prospect of unknown-self is murky, and for those with control issues, it’s precisely the unknowing that’s so hard. Parting with a definition that really doesn’t work should be, on its face, easy to do. However, parting with the known in favor of the unknown — that seems scary. It’s like emerging from the cocoon we’ve constructed as a worm and learning to live as a butterfly. None of the old rules seem to apply.
So, in those moments, remember: “parting is such sweet sorrow.”
When you say goodbye to something old that no longer fits, you open space for something new. It’s the opportunity for “new-self”. Which could be something nicer, better, happier. Could be something that helps you live more fully. Could be something sweet.
Be open to the opportunity for change that life brings. Welcome it. Because it’s your chance to flap your butterfly wings… and fly.