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#reverb10: Let Go

Today's #reverb10 writerly prompt is: December 5: Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why? (Author: Alice Bradley)

Oh did this prompt speak to me.

I actually wrote a magazine submission on this very topic. I’m still waiting to hear on the status of the submission so I won’t publish what I wrote, but in short: this year I let go of the ex-boyfriend who tortured me for 3 years and stalked me for 15.

I was only 18 when I met Alan (who was about 20 years older than me…go ahead and cue the “eww”) and what started as a quirky, likely-father-figure-inspired courtship soon turned into a three-year emotionally abusive relationship that damaged my relationships with friends and family, drove me to the brink of an eating disorder, hardened my heart, and had me looking over my shoulder for 15 years after I (finally) pulled the plug on the relationship.

In those 15 years, I never once responded to Alan’s correspondence and I pretended I didn’t see him when I saw him following me. But the stalking took its toll, and I was held captive in Alan's emotional prison until my therapist and I had a breakthrough session during which she suggested that I: a) regard all of his correspondence for what it really was: junk mail; and b) try to wish Alan peace and forgiveness whenever he surfaced. Because really, someone who was pursuing a one-way road of communication for 15 years probably needed my empathy.

It wasn’t easy embracing this perspective shift, but with each following piece of bizarre stalkitude, I would listen to my feelings of anger and embarrassment, then take a deep breath and wish Alan peace and forgiveness and healing. I achieved my letting go by way of repeated practice, by continued reflection on the amazing gifts I have in my life, by feeling empathy for the hurt Alan must have experienced somewhere in his life if badgering a barely legal flame from 15 years ago was still a priority, and by extending this practice to other instances in my life.

And the amazing thing is, not long after I let go, the correspondence stopped. If it starts up again, I will continue to repeat my practice; until then, I’ll take it as a sign that Alan has finally let go too.