February 15th, 2013
Saying Goodbye, Even When You Really Really Don’t Want To.
It seems that breakups are all around me. And it must be something in the air. Something I’ve decided I needed to learn in this lifetime. Because it’s been loud and clear lately.
Last night I had to let go of someone I’ve loved more than anyone I’ve ever loved in my whole life. Who completely changed the way I think about myself, relationship, love and commitment. Who expanded my heart in ways I never knew possible. Who challenged me, grew me, and had me take a good hard look at myself. Who showed me that unconditional love does exist, and that I can keep loving even when I’m scared, sad, frustrated, annoyed, and don’t have time to “deal with this right now.”
As some of you know, I’ve shared custody of my great dane, Coach, with my ex for almost three years now. When I was traveling across the US, I’d get him. When my ex wasn’t traveling across the US, he’d get him. And since our last trips, both of our lives have changed. I now live 1200 miles away. He now has a new family.
We’ve both known that shared custody wasn’t going to last forever, but neither of us would budge. We both wanted him and neither of us were surrendering. Until last night.
Here’s the letter I wrote:
“Happy Volleyball Day.
As you can imagine this decision has not been easy for me. I’ve been avoiding writing you back, handling the pain on my end for awhile now. But the bottom line for me is that I think Meatball is best with you guys. It seems that he has a good thing going. Fun in the sun and all that.
I’m building something right now with my business that is big. And it will have me traveling and moving and shaking and not as present as it seems you guys are.
With all this being said…I will only agree to allowing you guys to have the majority of custody under these conditions:
1) You promise to never ever ever let him turn into an Orange County brah bro douchebag with a fake tan, a trucker hat, and a buncha bitch sluts hanging around. Make sure you force him to keep it real.
2) That there is the underlying understanding that Chrissy has adopted Coach as a step dog, but that he is still my dog. I found him, picked him out, paid for him, spent the majority of his life with him, taken him all over the country three times, have loved on him and taught him a lot of his funny quirks. He’s my (and yours) boy, no matter who he is living with.
3) You make sure he sees the world and always feels loved. That he sniffs lots of different types of trees, that his little feet feel lots of different types of grounds, that he swims in multiple bodies of water, and sees all the sky possible. That he gets more exercise than he needs, the best quality food, and the absolute best care.
4) That I can come see him, spend time with him, take him out whenever I’m in town and whenever I want to, and you’ll work with me to make that happen.
5) That I still get updates and pics and maybe a facetime chat or two hundred with him.
If you can agree to all of these things, I’m willing to allow your guys’ home be his most permanent home.
I imagine that you’ll both be super happy and celebrating over this. Please don’t let me know about this part of this. This is really hard and terribly sad for me. My heart is so tender and hurting around this and you have no idea what this has been like for me even imagining doing this. So please be sensitive to that.
Two days from now, 18 years ago, my dad died. And it’s not surprising to me that all of this is coming up now. I’ve carried around old wounds and hurts from my past, from men “leaving me” from feeling not good enough for them to stick around, assuming that who I am is too intense and unlovable.
Something is being birthed in me right now and this is all part of it. The clearing and excavating of old hurts, old ideas, old people, old scars, so that I can birth something new. Part of not making this decision (since really…it’s been on the table all three years), was probably me hanging on to the relationship with my ex. Not even fathoming being able to let go of someone I loved so much (my dog, and probably my ex too). Of not wanting to be perceived as a bad mother, or not wanting to feel, deep down, that I gave up on my baby. But really, I’ve known for a long time that Coach would probably be best off with my ex. This hits me in my gut to say out loud. Ugh.
The Wildheart Revolution is happening. It is this.
And letting go of my old self up to this point is the first step. My old self who would rather die than let “some other woman” have my dog (just because I couldn’t let her win). The old self who would want to “punish” my ex for not chasing after me when I left. The old self who cared about “winning” more than she cared about what’s really the best thing for everyone.
I’ve traded ego for compassion, and it’s really hard. But it feels really good.
The last thing in the world I wanted to do was give my dog to a new family (and honestly…to the “other woman”), especially when I love him, can take care of him, and want him. But the honest truth is that in my bigger vision of my place in the world, The Wildheart Revolution will have me traveling. Moving and shaking. Up to big things.
And when given the choice to have my dog in the hands of a wonderful family who loves him (including his dad) or be put in boarding facilities every time my Revolution calls me out of town (which in my vision, is a lot), I choose the former. I choose love. I choose letting my ego go, for the good of everyone involved.
Tears fall out of my eyeballs as I post this. My gut feels heavy. But I also know it’s the right thing.
This is a Wildhearted Life. Doing the right thing, even when it’s hard and you don’t want to.
It’s putting your own hurts and ego aside for the greater good. It’s making the tough call, the almost impossible decision. And it’s choosing love.
I love my dog. I love my ex. I love all the experiences I’ve had to get me here to this moment. I’m sad to let go and am going kicking and screaming. But on the other side of that scream is silence. The calm of the Wild Heart Way.
Won’t you join me?
What in your life needs to be let go of so you can birth something new? What have you been hanging on to in order to avoid the next chapter? Please share and leave a comment below.
God Girl. I am crying right now.
Once again you astound me with your bare-it-all-vulnerability – fierce courage – and freakin’ WILD heart (and you know I don’t say that lightly!)
My heart goes out to you, and you best bet I’mma be calling you as soon as I finish typing this. What I read here is someone who really, TRULY knows what LOVE is – you want what’s best for the C-dog, not just what’s best for you. That’s huge. Like, great dane size huge. and rare. and precious beyond words.
Also, ps, like so many others of your posts – I have a feeling this one is going to revisit me in my own life when I’m in big decision moments, or blog vulnerability moments, or so much more.
So ridiculously proud to be your friend.
A million hugs, lots of tissues, and non-chocolate treats, and maybe even some hard liquor coming your way.
Zoe…I laughed, I cried, I experienced gratitude with your post. Thank you. And for you, someone who I consider to be highly spiritual and knowledgable about all things in the realm, to say that I truly know what love is makes my heart melt.
Deep down, I know that’s my lesson (or one of them) of this lifetime.
I’m glad this resonated with you and I’m so grateful to have you in my life. Thanks for the call earlier.
Partners in Wild-Ness.
You are a Wild Heart. Awesome letter your companion and love truly show.
Thanks so much for sharing.
Hey Jason…thank you so much for commenting. What moved you to do so?
Oh sweetheart, this just broke my heart to read. I do understand all of the reasons and I have to say, you are so smart and courageous to actually face those and come to a decision that is so heartbreaking for you but for the good of all. I know you would have been an excellent Mom to Coach for years to come, but you’re being an excellent Mom for both of you with this decision. I love you so much and I know how much you absolutely love Coach. My heart is breaking for you, but all my love and support is with you too, you are one smart, fire-hearted strong woman. I definitely have things I need to let go of as well, thanks for posting this, very inspirational and much love lady <3
Lil Lady…we’re due for a catch up. And thanks so much for writing in and saying all that wonderful stuff. Reading these comments makes me feel so supported and it also allows me to keep crying and keep grieving. You’ve been here on this journey with me for awhile and I hope you know how much I appreciate your love and support. I think you are a fire-hearted woman as well and I hope you will join the Revolution (as if you have a choice).
Oh Sally. I’m at once so sad about Coach and in awe of the powerful choice you’ve made. You are truly living on your own edge girl and it’s inspirational. As I read your question at the end – I’m struck by how many things I could stand to let go of. Resentments, old grudges, self-limiting nonsense. Honestly a bunch of crap.
You’ve made me want to re-examine the life I want, my desires, and toss all the garbage to make room for huge amounts of awesome.
Thank you for being your amazing self. Love you!
Oh girl you know this has me curious. SPILL IT!
Sally, I so feel you in this! I love our vision, your passion and commitment, and your willingness to courageously let go and step into what lies ahead. You are walkin’ the walk, my friend. THANK YOU!
I’ve given up a dog for a dream, I fostered a dog for 2 years while a dear one pursued their dream, I’ve taken on many cats for those in transition either from claiming a dream or having a dream shattered… All tough stuff. But the thing I held onto the longest that relates most to this story was my glass blowing studio equipment. For 13 years I blew glass and made my living that way. My then-husband and I built up the studio together, ran the business, and nurtured our dream. When I hit burn out at the same time the fine craft market was tumbling, my new dream revealed itself to me. That was 17 years ago. For 2 years he tried to make it work without me. Eventually the marriage fell apart and we sold our home. The equipment went into paid storage. I paid for storage for TEN YEARS. Finally, last November, a friend got a fork lift, a truck and a big trailer and hauled it off to a new home in NY State. It’s the beginnings of a glass school there and is getting a new life. I can’t tell you how many tears I shed through the years trying to figure out what to do with this thing that I’d invested so much in, that held and fostered so many dreams, and that was now worth next to nothing on the market. Letting go of it was not at all just letting go of stuff… it was abandoning or euthanizing a dream… the final non-kid connection to my ex and that part of our lives… and truly admitting it was completely over.
Damn. That was hard.
And……… It was also being FREE! Rid of the burden, the rental payment, the wondering ‘what if’, and the delusion that it would ever be something it’s not. I feel liberated. One day I may even see some money for the thing, and that’s not what matters. What matters is that I couldn’t carry that thing into my future. Just like the waterbed and bean bag chairs of my 1970’s upbringing don’t really match the decor of the house I live in now, that part of my past doesn’t match the life I’m creating going forward.
Three cheers to you, coach, your beloved ex, and your Wild Heart Revolution!!
Helen…thank you so much for sharing that story. It has me crying again because every single thing you said resonated. I was able to feel YOUR loss and pain and the death of a previously decided upon dream. A life built with the best intentions and then the realization that it just isn’t ever going to be what you pictured. But the letting go allows the new dream to come in. Thank you for so beautifully sharing such a simple concept. I feel the same way. Both completely broken hearted and sad and sobbing and already nostalgic, but also free, open, grounded. This is the final thing that has me be in touch with my ex and in touch with my self back then. No there’s nothing left to hold onto.
Thank you for helping me get to this place because one question you asked on a call over 7 months ago has stuck with me the whole time and was ultimately the deciding factor. I feel so lucky to be guided by you.
Tears in my eyes. Animals are so amazing aren’t they? And so is love. And so are you.
And so are you.
Sally, I’m so sorry that you’re going through this. You are doing the right thing, and I know you take some comfort in that, but damnit is it hard. This blog did resonate with me. I’ve seen my husband cry twice. The first time, at his grandfather’s funeral, and he seemed ashamed to be doing it. The second time, when we had to give up his dog, Bailey. It’s a long story, but Eli couldn’t take care of him the way Bailey deserved. So there at the human society, Eli cried long and hard and unabashedly. It’s an incredible thing, the impact animals have on our lives. You’ll get through this. Sending you lots of love from the Bay.
Hey lady…you know, I’ve never had a dog before and I never knew how much love I could feel with another living being until I got him. The bonds are so strong and both complicated and simple at the same time. I can definitely understand why Eli was balling. Honestly, I feel like I’ve been grieving Coach’s loss ever since my ex and I broke up almost three years ago. Today was the tipping point. Thanks for your love and support. I love you.
Oh Sally! Misty eyed here… so glad I got to meet Coach and you. Braveheart, that’s what you are. Heartswell <3. Sending so so so much love to you, you amazing, kind, beautiful, sassay, sexy biarch and friend o' mine <3 And I need to let go of the same – feelings of not being good enough, worthy enough, or just.. enough. To accept that I am, all that and more. Right here, right now. With you, sista wife! Hugssssssss!
Girl…your comment made me giggle and tear up at the same time. Two of my favorite things. Thank you so much for writing and sending love and I think you’re absolutely right. I think that’s all of our missions in life…to know we’re worthy and enough. Tht is the root of so much pain and so many unsatisfactory relationships. You’re already part of the Revolution. You’re already walking the walk right now and I’m so lucky to get to be a part of it. Sista wife…indeed. Love you.
:( So sad. You are so strong! It feels good to make the right choice, even if it fucking sucks.
I have a picture of me and coach in the van! :)
Thanks lady. I know. :( Wahhhhhhhh!!! But yes, the hard choice is usually the one that catapults us into a new realm of being. And I feel that. So terribly sad, yes. Right thing? Also yes.
So glad you got to meet him. XO
Aren’t animals such wonderful teachers? They really have the market on this unconditional love thing. It’s so heartbreaking and yet so uplifting to realize that you can actually put yourself in a place of pain if it means less pain for someone you love.
I remember the day your dad died 18 years ago and I feel as much at a loss for words now, as I did then. And as completely useless. It was a horrible day. But, I truly believe he is completely aware of what is going on with you and your sis and THAT always puts a huge smile on my face.
Hey cousin…yes I totally agree about animals. Coach was my first real pet. That was totally mine. And my first dog. He taught me so much.
And thanks for saying that about my dad. I felt so many different things that were too overwhelming so I just remember being numb. I believe he is here with me in some ways, for sure. I think he’d be proud of all of us. :)
I’ve loved the stuff you do since the first time I found you online somehow. You are honest, and courageous and an inspiration.
I cannot wait to see the good things that are going to come into your life as your surrender and learn from the challenges.
I do know this – I am thankful that you are one of the good things that I’ve discovered.
Hey Jeremy…thank you so much for writing and for your continued support. You know, I feel as grateful as you do. Thank you for being a Wildheart along for the ride.
Oh Sally, just reading this! My heart is breaking a little!! But so agree that what you did sounds like the best thing for you and Coach. You will always be Coach’s mommy and he will always know that. So excited for all you have coming up, can’t wait to learn more. I’m wrapping you in a big virtual hug right now. LOVE YOU!!!!
Thank you lady. I will definitely keep you posted on the new happenings. Love to you and the family.
PowerFULL, Sally! Thank YOU for stepping so fully into YOU… your pain and all. This is POTENT Love Medicine.
And… I hear the gift of Death present in this decision. This decision of LIFE and giving alllll to it… to the deeper truth of ourselves and letting the old self and life die, rather than holding on when it no longer serves anyone.
Something about my experience with Death has made me all the more courageous to acknowledge these places of my growth… and make the choice to step into them… even while it is painful to let go. For in Death, all of it ends. We will not be able to hang on to anything when we go. It is a practice of letting go that which we LOVE NOW! in true ways that becomes the practice for me.
I am facing moving away from my sons whom I have ardently mothered and lived with and LOVED for 27 years. I am stepping into my growing self… and allowing them to do the same. All the while mourning the loss while celebrating the amazzzzzzzing journey it has been. Lots of tears and pain and beauty.
Death hurts so GOOD…. eventually. If it’s true.
love you, Sally.
Ooooh I LOVE that you said it’s Potent Love Medicine. I don’t think there is any better way to describe it. I find that on the other side of my deepest pain, if I allow myself to sit in it, is freedom. Medicine.
Also…hurts so good. YES!!!! Reminds me of this:
I am learning to let go. Thank you for this.
How can I help?
This was exactly what I needed to hear right now, in this moment! Thank you for re-posting this via Facebook!
I feel like I am on the tail end of saying good bye to an old lover, yet again. There has been many goodbyes said, but this time it feels like it is really the end. I feel like I can see the light at the end of the tunnel! HALLELUJAH! ;)
Thank you for reminding me that the hard shit is usually the good shit in the end, and although it may feel hard and suffocating, in the end it will FEEL much better.
We are never alone and by sharing your story it inspired me to share mine!
All my LOVE,