10/05/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Tenacious V

Whoever coined the phrase "The Art of Letting Go" either never had anything they really valued, or never really let go of it. Because for me, there is no "art" in letting go. It is unrelenting, graceless drudgery. It is not the releasing of someone, it is the process of being dragged, in your head and heart, over rocky terrain until you can no longer keep your claws in the hope of not having to let go. It is the realisation, the acceptance, of hopelessness.

Though acceptance is probably a misnomer.&n bsp; It is really resignation masquerading as acceptance. But beaten into submission through the relentlessness of your own thoughts, you eventually come to the realisation that maybe, just maybe, you might be happier if you let go. Art? I think not.

Of course, you can sit in stubborn stasis for months (or years - not recommended), knowing that you will have to let go eventually, but not just yet. How does one get there? Sometimes you try to demonize the ex, deluding yourself that it will change what you feel about him. But it can be a fruitless activity, especially when there was no demonic behavior in site. But there is some unfair need to reclassify him as the enemy, and you, the victim.

Countless friends will say it's time to move on, though you may search high and low for a second, diverging opinion so that you can hang on just a bit longer. But eventually the pain of continuing to think about him exceeds the pain of letting go. Let go, or be dragged.

What break-up paradigm is the easiest to work with? Probably when they dump you. There's little recourse. Focusing on reality can be helpful but really intellect only plays a supporting role in letting go. You can have a litany of reasons something wasn't working, ended, wasn't good for you, or had no future, but it doesn't change your feelings one iota. It is perhaps most difficult when things are ended by impossible circumstances rather than conflict or diminished interest. It is then just sad, for two.

But really, we all know the only tried and true method, the one that really moves things along, is replacement guy. Sometimes it's interim guy, sometimes it's The One (or The One For Now). But knowing that you won't go through the rest of life withering on the vine can do a world of good. Perhaps what's hardest when something important ends is believing that you will ever have something that good again, that the depth of feeling can ever be repeated. But you need to remember previous break-ups when you thought the same, only to find love again.

Do you ever get totally over someone that's been really important to you? 99% is achievable, eventually. Though that 1% can still rear its head at unexpected moments, usually when you are ready to make a commitment to someone new. And uncannily, sometimes the former object of your affection actually shows up at the point too. And while that person eventually crosses your mind less and less, when they do, there can still be melancholy or wistfulness, but that is the nature of love and a reminder of what's been important to you. You don't need to forget it or push it from your mind. Honor it for what it was. And move on.

My college obsession was a boy named Randy (aptly named). We went out for an intense few weeks at the beginning of freshman year and he then proceeded to hook up with everything in a skirt in my dorm and beyond. But I pined over him all the way through sophomore year. We finally got together again before I left school and eventually I got over him. Of course, it was easier to let go back then, because there was no contact. No email, no permanent cell phone number, no cyber stalking. They're just gone.

We somehow communicated five years later and he told me he loved me. Great for my ego (but God, a long wait). But the moment had passed, I was in a serious relationship. Ironically, he had given me Joni Mitchell's "Blue" album, which has come in handy for every break up since, especially when the tears just won't come. "A Case of You" can still do it twenty seconds flat.

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