We translate a lot of these terms we hear into what we think they mean.
Love and let go to one person could mean kicking a kid out of the house due to his substance misuse. Sometimes it does come to that but that isn’t the definition of the phrase.
Love and let go to another might mean simply seeking to allow a brother to experience consequences instead of loaning money as one did in the past.
When you file through the inventory of all you’ve done due to a loved one’s addiction or mental illness, it’s natural to gravitate to what you have not tried because you wonder that’s the one thing that would work.
Here’s the catch. Love and let go doesn’t mean doing nothing although it can sound like it’s an excuse to wash your hands of the mess that’s had your heart tangled in barbed wire. The secret lies in changing yourself and that happens by seeking support, not buying into myths.
Someone can die when you love and let go. But then they can also die when you don’t. And trying to control can result in blocking someone else’s recovery.
The issue is that love and let go is not a one-size-fits-all and it’s important to translate it to your loved one and situation.
It definitely doesn’t mean denying love or withdrawing love.
It does mean accepting that you can’t control another human or the outcome. And letting go of the idea that you can somehow manipulate the future if you just find the magic formula.
So really love and let go is allowing yourself the grace of accepting that you are not a superhero or God, letting go of past pain, and just meeting another where they are with the understanding that the only person you can change is you. And that change is constant. Letting go of the reins can be a terrifying experience and also a relief at the same time. And while it doesn’t mean everything is resolved. There is peace in the revelation.
It’s hard for us to translate this for ourselves. I know it was for us when it came to my son’s substance misuse and addiction. When we let go, we let go too much and didn’t recognize my son’s cry for help prior to his suicide.
Loving and letting go is fluid which means it requires assessing and re-assessing what that means for you and your family as a situation evolves. And that requires listening for when another might be asking for your support or help even when you are exhausted and at the end of yourself.
What is too much? What is not enough?
In short, love and let go means allowing yourself to let go of the power someone else’s destructive habit, illness, or addiction has over you. It’s a process, so be patient with yourself and accept that you will have relapses, too.