That’s what happened to me. There was a lot of noise—the busy-ness of life at the time. Over the course of eight years, there was a major move, two remodels and a new home construction, two small businesses, three dogs, two deaths, and a very busy and extroverted husband.
Because of that noise, I lost my connection to myself. That’s ultimately why I got divorced. I knew I couldn’t be me and stay in that marriage. Glennon Doyle Melton once wrote, “Most of us fight like hell for our marriages until we realize that we can either save our marriages or save our souls.” I needed to save my soul.
It’s also why I have walked away from other relationships, friendships, jobs, and locales. The noise. The noise of others’ needs, wants, and grand plans; expectations and obligations. The noise drowned me out until I couldn’t hear myself.
And that’s my pitfall. In an effort to connect with others, I often sacrifice the most important connection of all—the one with my soul. As a wise woman once so aptly and hilariously observed, I have the tendency to whore myself out for connection. I put myself on the back burner, giving too much of myself to others and not enough to myself.
Connection is important to me. It’s core to who I am. That’s why losing connections can be terrifying to me; it can feel like death. But for better or worse, being willing to let go of connections that no longer serve me is essential. It creates space for people, places, and things that fill me up, make me more of who I am, rather than deplete me.
A couple months ago, I read something that really hit home:
What most people want in any relationship is to feel and know they are valued.
Seems obvious, I know. What struck me, though, is how this also applies to dis-connecting. In thinking back, my most successful disconnections have been when I have let the other party know how much I valued them and the contribution they made to me and my life.
Conversely, the relationships that end up lingering and taking up precious mental space are those where I didn’t express my gratitude. For even in the less-than-ideal of relationships, there is always something of value to appreciate. Those experiences have helped to get me where I am today and shaped who I am.
All winter long, geese have been flying overhead, crisscrossing the sky over our house and property, oftentimes when I am out with McKenna walking the back property. When I looked it up, the message of goose symbolism was apropos: “Remember your roots and make sure that you honor the people who have helped you.”
I knew it was time to honor some people and places from which I disconnected badly. One afternoon a couple weeks ago I sat down and wrote a short note to each person and place, expressing the value that they brought to my life. With heartfelt well wishes for each of them, I then sent the messages on their way in a fire ceremony.
The act of expressing my appreciation and then letting it go felt good—better than I thought it would, honestly. I questioned whether I should have actually sent the notes to the individuals. In a perfect world, maybe; in this instance, probably not. Although the value gained from those relationships was positive for me, the message might not have been perceived so by the recipient.
In the end, it’s not about perfection. It’s about connection. Connection to myself first so I can connect more authentically to those around me.