Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Good in Goodbye

My yoga class today was exceptionally enlightening and uplifting, to the point that I feel compelled to share the lesson.  My teacher shared with us the experience of taking her second son to college last week.  She was absent from our classes when she drove him to school.  She had spoken to us of her trepidation surrounding this major step in her life.  Today, at the beginning of class, she shared her struggle with us, in tears.  She said that like everything in life, “this too shall pass,” and “the only thing we can truly expect in this life is change.”  What really stood out in her words today was this: we all have to let go of experiences, stages, and even people we love.  While it is often easy to let go of what seems bad, we also have to let of go things in our lives that are good, when the time comes; and this prepares us to receive new blessings. 

Letting go of the good in our lives…that is tough to accept!  One man in the class had also dropped his daughter off at college last week, and he said, “What we are letting go of is our parental role of being their constant protector.  My daughter was sick when I took her to college, and it was hard for me to leave because I just wanted to stay there and take care of her.  But now she is taking care of herself and that role for me has ended, for the most part.  Now it’s time for something else.”  An elderly woman chimed in, “when one door closes, another door always opens.” 

My teacher’s open sharing of her sadness touched my heart.  She said that during the past few weeks the sorrow of letting go had continued to surface for her, but she pushed it down repeatedly to appear strong for her husband and children.  She said that the feelings were there, and the tears would rise up to her throat but she would push them back down into the area of her heart and chest, which made her literally sick.  Now she is letting it out and modeling that freedom for her students.  I loved that she spoke about learning to let go of the good things that come into our lives, blessings and experiences that we wish to hold onto. 

My children are still little, only 3 and 4 years of age.  So I have a long time before I have to let them spread their wings and fly away from home.  But I also have a few good things in my life that need to fly away, free.  In class today, I shed a few tears when that realization fully dawned.  I have also been holding on when I need to let go and open up to new experiences.  When my family moved last Spring, I began the process of saying goodbye to some well-loved and familiar faces and places.  I had to let go of the wonderful preschool where my eldest son was nurtured for two years.  Now he will start a new school.  Letting go of the local column I wrote when I moved to a new town was a sort of personal loss that I mourned.  These are two of many examples. 

Letting go of good relationships that either disappear entirely or take on a new dynamic; this is the particular challenge my yoga teacher is facing with her college-aged son.  I am also facing that challenge with a very special person who was in my life for nearly a year.  He is a teacher and coach that I met when I was writing my former column.  I interviewed him in connection with some exciting work he was doing.  I was so impressed with him that I decided to sign on as one of his clients.  He is a stress relief coach, and as a Mom of toddlers, I was feeling a little stressed.  Little did I know that not only would he help me with my job as a Mom, but he would also help me rediscover my purpose outside of motherhood, and ultimately connect me with my higher self and spirituality in a way that would open me up to a world of new experiences.  I truly cherished the connection I had with him, to the point that I dreaded losing it.  When it came time for the relationship to end, I signed on for more coaching.   I did this because I was afraid of letting go of something good.  I was not sure what other sorts of people and experiences would come into my life to fill the void.  Like my yoga teacher, when I felt sad about letting go of that relationship, I pushed the sadness back down.  I still haven’t fully let go of the wonderful teacher/student dynamic I had with him, even though I know it is time for me to spread my wings. 

Already, I have amazing new people and experiences at my very doorstep.  It is time for me to let them in.  I am in a new church environment in my new hometown, with a wonderful pastor and congregation.  I am happy to be actively involved in the church organization with my husband.  My pastor is an invaluable teacher and source of support.  My interfaith seminary program begins this fall, and I can’t contain my excitement about interacting with the other students and teachers traveling this path with me.  Even my yoga class with such a gifted teacher is relatively new for me.  I had to stop attending my regular number of classes at my old studio in order to allow this new one to come into my life.  My favorite yoga teacher at my old studio: don’t even get me started on her!  There is no way I am letting her go anytime soon.  I drive out of my way half an hour to maintain that connection, even though I have fantastic yoga options where I live now!  With some things, it’s “never say die.” 

Putting our focus on the new good makes it easier to release the old good.  Hope and optimism help us persevere in the face of change.  That spoonful of new beginnings helps us swallow the bitter pill of saying goodbye.  One thought occurred to me after class today: the word “goodbye” contains the word “good”!  There must be a good reason for that. 


  1. Great post today. So appropriate as I get ready to move, again.

  2. Thanks Michelle,
    I just read your post. You shared your feelings in a wonderful way and it made me happy to know that sharing my pain helps others to open up to theirs.

    As you said in a more recent is only when we accept our own suffering that we can have compassion for others.

  3. Taking time for myself this morning and decided to read back on your blog. What a timely message this is- even these many months later. My friend, our goodbye will be bittersweet as well- and yet- it is a hello into a new way to be friends for us. I will miss you!