Today’s let go is directly inspired from something Elizabeth Gilbert posted on her Facebook wall earlier this year. I’ve pored over it at least a dozen times now and haven’t stopped thinking about it - not for a single day - since I first read it. It hit the truth nerve and magically put to words something I hadn’t been able to name up until that point. I hadn’t even known I was doing it, but oh, I’ve felt the pain of doing it.
Now that I can see my own spell-casting for what it is, it takes away some of its power. Her writing has given me this gift of perspective more than once.
(This is one of the many reasons I am profoundly grateful for good writing and storytelling, by the way. Certain books have changed my life and a small lot of them have probably saved it. Better than therapy.)
I’m not even going to try to say it better than she did, so I’ve just copied her entire post below. Some of these let-go’s are heavier than others. This is of the heavier variety and something I’ll need to practice releasing again and again, I’m sure.
"DON’T CAST A SPELL OVER YOURSELF AND IMAGINE THAT THEY ARE DOING IT…"
Dear Ones —
I was so touched by everyone’s responses to my post yesterday about the dangers of losing yourself in love. Infatuation is a dangerous game, you guys, and an alluring one. Sounds like we’ve all been there. There is something so compelling about the idea of completely surrendering yourself over to another person. There is a vanishing of the self that happens in this process which can feel so delicious at the beginning (who doesn’t want to escape the self?) but which also comes with this potentially disastrous side effect: You have now completely given over your power to another human being.
After which, as Scooby Doo would say: “Ruh-roh.”
We often call this process “falling in love”. But whenever you give your power to somebody else, you have actually fallen under a spell, which is not quite the same thing as love. Here’s the curious part, though — that person (the object of your infatuation) did not cast a spell over you; YOU ACTUALLY CAST A SPELL OVER YOURSELF. You fell in love with an idea about love, and let yourself become enchanted, and even blinded, by it. You blinded yourself. Because bewitchment in infatuation always comes from within, from your own imagination, and generally has little do to do with the actual truth or circumstances of the other person.
Waking up from that bewitchment can be a horror show. What follows next is the crash — disappointment, depression, rage, shame, withdrawal…or even, as we discussed yesterday, a desire to end one’s own life, because we decided that we must live or die by the other person.
I am reading a novel from 1946 right now by an author named J.B Priestly, and he speaks beautifully about the dangers of infatuation. I just stumbled the other day on the most gorgeous passage on this subject, and I wanted to share it with you all.
In the novel, a young man named Gregory has become obsessed with an entire family called the Alingtons, and an older fellow named Jock is warning Gregory about the dangerous path of infatuation he’s taking, emotionally.
Jock says, about the Alingtons: “You mustn’t make them stand for more than they ought to stand for. You mustn’t turn them into symbols…The Alingtons are an amusing, rather clever, very charming family, and I’m fond of them all. But don’t try to make them add up to anything more than that. Don’t turn them, somewhere at the back of your mind, into something they aren’t, and wouldn’t pretend to be. Don’t make everything stand or fall by them. SWITCH OFF THE MAGIC, WHICH COMES FROM YOU AND NOT FROM THEM. DON’T CAST A SPELL OVER YOURSELF AND IMAGINE THAT THEY’RE DOING IT.” (emphasis mine.)
Then Gregory asks if Jock he is being warned him about the Alingtons — if there is something dark in this family’s collective character.
Jock replies: “Not warning against them. Warning against you in relation to them. You can go a long way — and give us something good in return — if you travel easily and lightly, seeing people as they are, just as people and not as symbolic figures, and not leaving parts of yourself behind, frozen in some enchantment.”
I highlighted the entire page.
This is what I used to do in my life, whenever I become infatuated with anyone (and I’ve done it with friends as well as lovers): I have turned people into symbols of something larger and more magical than they are, thus putting a spell on myself about them. Leaving myself frozen in enchantment. And also, I may add, I did those people a great disservice, by not permitting them to simply be themselves — flawed, lovely, normal human beings. Because when they failed to deliver on my dream (how COULD they deliver on my dream?) the whole relationship fell apart. And then it got ugly.
Don’t do it, you guys.
Wake from your dream, switch off the seductive internal magic, look around you.
Real love — healthy love — is waiting for you somewhere, if you can just keep your eyes open.