While it’s all been said many times in a thousand different ways, letting go of something can be very challenging, particularly when it comes to someone you love, whether it be a child, a lover or a friend. I personally had a very difficult “letting go” episode a number of years ago that involved my youngest daughter and it literally threw me for a loop. She was preparing to go off to another state to start a new life and although she was ready to go and I understood her need to go, I was not emotionally prepared to send her off. Believe me, I had many experiences of letting go, but this one was different.

To give you a clearer picture, I should explain that I am the mother of four children and the three older children had already left home. Because I was divorced, I had raised my youngest daughter by myself from the time she was three years old and so we bonded in a way that made us even closer. And as the baby of the family, letting go of her proved to be very difficult. But she had made up her mind to make this change and whether I liked it or not, I had to let her go.

We talked about it at length and she explained that she was ready to be on her own. Of course, I was fully aware that children eventually leave home, which is a necessary part of the parenting process; however, I was emotionally stuck. With a great deal of reluctance and resistance, I kissed and hugged her tightly as she drove away to begin the next part of her journey.

For the first three months after her departure, I probably cried nearly every day missing her sweet presence and fun attitude, but I did my best to carry on. I tried to let go through prayer and meditation, but the loneliness I felt by her absence was palpable and each time I walked into my home, I felt it all over again. I didn’t think it would ever stop, but something surprising became the answer to my struggle.

If any of you remember during the late 80’s and early 90’s there was a TV show called Designing Women for which I was a faithful fan. One evening, I found myself mesmerized by the story line because on this particular episode, the show touched upon the subject of letting go. Naturally, since it was something I was wrestling with, it reached into my heart so deeply that I often wished I had written to the producers and writers of the show, just to let them know the influence it had on my life.

The story, which I will condense for the sake of time and space, began when Suzanne Sugarbaker, played by Delta Burke agreed to become the foster mother to a little Vietnamese boat girl for a month while the papers for her adoption by a Birmingham couple were being processed. What Suzanne didn’t anticipate was falling in love with the little girl. They both became so attached to each other; they didn’t want to leave each other’s side. As the time drew nearer for the adoptive parents to come for the little girl, Suzanne was struggling with giving her up.

On the day the new parents arrived, Suzanne ran away with the little girl, too upset to give her to the adoptive parents. She called her older sister Julia Sugarbaker, played by Dixie Carter and told her she couldn’t give her to the parents because she loved her too much. I know to some people TV can be a mindless diversion, but on that particular day and that episode, I was using it to learn an important lesson. As you might imagine, I held onto every word, literally glued to the TV and listening intently as the story unfolded.

When Julia realized the dilemma Suzanne was facing, she told her to stay where she was and that she would meet her so that they could discuss it together. When Julia arrived to where Suzanne was waiting, she found her sister crying and saying how hard it was to let her go. Julia in her infinite wisdom had lots to say as she helped her make this critical decision. Of course, I am paraphrasing primarily so you can get the gist of the story, but basically it unfolded as follows. “Suzanne, Julia said to her sister, if you love someone, their happiness should be a priority, which is one of the most important parts of being a good parent. Therefore, you have to weigh what the new parents can give her compared to what you can give her and whether or not what they have to offer would be better for the child.” Suzanne listened and realized that what her sister was saying made great sense but it was still too hard. She was trying desperately to think of the little girl, but it was far too close to her heart. Julia continued by saying, “A good mother gives her child roots and wings all at the same time. When a mother understands that a child has to be able to fly while also knowing they have roots, a mother has done her job and she has done it well.”

Although it was a different circumstance than mine, the message was clear. I heard what she said and related it to my own situation, realizing it was time for me to think more about my daughter’s needs over my own. I had done my job. She had wings and was ready to test them out. Without exaggeration, in that instance, I understood something about love that I had not realized until that very moment. My girl’s happiness had to be paramount. She was ready to fly and I had to emotionally let her go or it would continue to be a source of pain. It was time for me to see that my daughter’s need to separate was critical to her growth and far more important than my need to hold on.

With that understanding something very heavy lifted from my heart. I realized that I truly wanted my daughter to be happy more than anything else so if that meant she had to go off and do something on her own, so be it. As a Mother, it was the most important goal I had and I was totally uplifted with this new-found understanding. In fact, I was challenged to start applying this insight and wanted to let it take me where it would. I knew I would always be there for her and we would always be mother and daughter and if she ever needed me, I would be there to love, comfort and support her. She had already given me so much love and happiness; it was simply time for me to move on with my life. That didn't mean I wouldn't miss her and that I wouldn't hope for her to return, but I had finally freed myself from the emotional burden of holding on. With that realization, I was reminded of how light it felt when something so pressing is released and how quickly the pain can leave when letting go. I felt like a different person as the pain subsided.

Every now and then the show reruns and each time I see it, I thank God that it aired. It truly altered the way I felt about my daughter’s leaving in a way that may never have happened if I didn't see the show. I also believe it gave me the tools for any future letting go events, because I often refer to that experience for guidance. I sincerely thank the writers for their awareness of love, the producers for their wisdom in creating it and for the two women who played their parts so well, all of which helped to change my perspective forever.

As I think back on that day, I know that the TV show I experienced had everything to do with my releasing my daughter. In fact, my relationship with her continued to grow stronger and she remained as close to me as if she never left. Now it is a number of years later and we are still the closest and best of friends, something that I think happened because I was able to release her. Today, I watch with great interest and compassion as I see parents struggling with the same type of dilemma and although I tell them it will be okay, they usually are not quite ready to hear me. I guess we each have to come to terms with whatever we’re dealing with in our time and in our own way. I can say with certainty though that when we let go, we are freed from terrible pain and left to enjoy some of the most amazing experiences.

Author's Bio: 

Charlene Rashkow, founder of All Your Writing Needs brings over 15 years of experience as a Writing Stylist and Author to her creative efforts as a freelance writer/consultant. She has successfully helped thousands of individuals and companies reach their objectives by writing outstanding articles, press releases, web site content, bios, letters, business plans, proposals, resumes, and all other forms of business and personal material. To learn more about Charlene you may visit her website at www.allyourwritingneeds.com. You may also contact Charlene at info@allyourwritingneeds.com.