Let go

You should learn to let go of things.

I have always struggled to deal with loss. Not change, you understand. Change I can deal with and have been dealing with since I was a child – we moved often as a family and since I left home at 18 I have rarely lived in one place for longer than two years, plus I have flipflopped between jobs and hobbies while also accepting that friends can come and go. No, change is not the problem. It’s dealing with the inevitable loss incurred by change that causes a problem.

When I was little, I watched an episode of the insipid children’s TV programme Rainbow in which one of the characters, the large fey bear called Bungle, had been given a helium-filled balloon as a gift. In an act of bravado, Bungle was letting go of the balloon and then catching it before it floated away. Naturally (this being kids’ TV in the ’80s) he eventually lost the balloon. The village in North Yorkshire where I did some of my growing up held an annual fair and one year my grandparents took my little sister and I along; during the day I was given a helium-filled balloon and, remembering the episode of Rainbow, I thought “Pfft, I’m not as stupid as Bungle” and promptly let go of the string.

What inevitably followed was: a lost balloon, admonishment from my grandfather, a tearful afternoon.

I mention this not to prove that my general level of common sense has not massively improved in the intervening 31 years (it hasn’t) but because every time I find myself unable to move on from a painful event I am reminded of that moment and of a small boy on a village green bawling his eyes out because he’s full of regret and the realisation that he’s an idiot. The memory crops up every time and the emotions from the recalling of it are as raw as ever.

I’m older now, but not entirely convinced I’m any wiser. Whenever I lose something or, more importantly, someone there’s still the same regret, there’s still that dawning realisation of what I’ve done, the same self-recrimination and blame. I’m 31  years older and I still need to learn to deal with it, to stop looking back and constantly kicking myself for being a pillock. How long do you carry those feelings with you until they begin to be all you feel?

I’ve made a lot of stupid decisions over the past 18 months. And I’m still counting the cost of losing some things I should never have misplaced.

But above all else I still need to learn how to let go and move on.

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