Updated: Jul 30
Why is letting go so hard? A question I have asked myself a billion times. I am always met with this voice in my head to push through, to toughen up, to not give up, and I am pretty sure most of you have that voice in your head too.
Life is a balance of holding on and letting go, but human nature tends to hold onto things that no longer work for us, let it be a job, a relationship with a person, a social circle, or even family at times. Perhaps it’s the fear that things won’t get better than this, that’s why we try to control and manipulate our situation but it sometimes ends up getting worse and hurts us, even more, to eventually let go.
In our highly stereotyped society, women have been taught from a young age to compromise, to make things work out even when the situation gets toxic for them. Let’s talk about Quratulain, a woman who was just recently tortured to death by her own husband in front of her own children! There are women who choose to stay in abusive marriages for the sake of their children, or maybe because their parents tell her to make things work out because they wouldn’t accept a divorced daughter. Isn't a divorced daughter better than a dead daughter? We as a society fail to understand the severity of the situation, here’s another recent example of a woman who tried to escape an abusive relationship, but again society failed her terribly. Yes! I’m talking about Noor Mukadam, daughter of a former Pakistani ambassador, regardless of multiple security checks outside their house, if she wasn’t safe there, then no woman truly ever is in today’s world.
Apart from romantic relationships, family is abusive too. Maybe it’s not physical all the time - mental abuse is an issue Pakistanis fail to regard as a real one, being called names by your siblings and parents, being told you’re worthless and will never succeed in life and no one’s going to love you more than them is one of the few examples of verbal abuse that runs in many families. The phrase “khoon ka rishta” is one of the main reasons why we sometimes fail to walk away from toxic family members; why we fail to call them out on their actions; why we keep on compromising for society’s sake.
Love is not a big enough reason to stay back, what society says about you and your relationships should have no control over your life. Leave when you start feeling like you are the one doing all the work when you are belittled, insulted, or even hit by your partner; this isn’t a one-time thing, believe me, it gets worse from this. Red flags are there for a reason, never let your affection for a person make you oblivious to them.
Here are a few signs of when it’s finally time to let go:
1. When your thoughts go to memories more than the present.
2. When the situation causes you more pain than joy.
3. When you expect, hope, and plead for the person, place, or situation to change.
4. When you become complacent, bored or resentful.
5. When the pattern persists even though you tried to fix it.
6. When you feel alone, unheard or disrespected.
7. When the situation is holding you back from growing and being who you want to be.
8. When you stay, hoping and expecting things to get better.
9. When you cry more than you laugh and love.
10. When you feel exhausted emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
11. When you have lost your passion and joy.
12. When your core beliefs and values have changed and you sacrifice who you are.
13. When you stop having fun.
14. When you fear this is the best it will be.
15. When you force a smile to mask the pain.
16. When you lose who you are and stop dreaming.
17. When you hold on out of fear of the unknown.
18. When you sense you are holding onto something meant to be let go.
19. When the thought of being free of the situation feels expansive.
20. When you believe in a better life for yourself.
I have let go of a lot of people in my life, including childhood best friends, my first love, and mentors. I hate to break it to you, but it hurts every time it happens and it feels just as bad as the first time but you know after a while, the sunlight, the birds chirping at dawn, the first sip of coffee starts to hit you differently. Allow me to be cheesy, you can never truly appreciate happiness and well-being if you haven’t felt low first. So the next time you’re facing a situation where you have to walk away, don’t hesitate, take a deep breath and take one step forward.
Nawal Zia is an in-house writer at Perspective.