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Sometimes you must love somebody enough to let them go.
I remember my mother saying this to me in the kitchen at my home in England. I was talking about a friend who for many years had been troubled with alcoholism, and how the fun that used to exist in our friendship had in recent years been transformed into anger, pain, embarrassment, and apathy. I had reached the point in every codependent's journey when I simply didn't care anymore. He was making me feel sick. As the church hymn so aptly says, 'We learn that love grows cold!'
I was telling my mother the friendship had given way to not caring. There was nothing more I could do for him; he had hurt me so much in recent years. I wanted out!
My mother said, 'I know how you feel. That is how I used to feel about you!' She went on to share what it was like living with me, as a mother, when I was drinking. Then she stated powerfully: 'This love requires distance.'
There is a point in 'tragic love' when we need to pull back, separate the dysfunctional behavior from the individual we love, and create a powerful moment of distance. In this sense we 'let go.' And we do this not because we do not love, but because we love.
Nobody can change another person, or get another person to behave in the way we want them to behave. When those relationships become really—I mean really—painful, we must pull away and let go. Sometimes nothing positive happens, and the person simply gets worse.
But there are times, creative moments, when the separateness produces a miracle: we have given them the space to change—the donkey is drinking the water!
Great Spirit: You who have given us the freedom to walk away from the pain that keeps on giving, may we see Your creative power at work in the separateness.
©2009. Leo Booth. All rights reserved. Reprinted from The Wisdom of Letting Go. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442