Endings are an edge—small slivers of time when we are broken open and vulnerable, straddling the space between death and new life.
We don’t look forward to endings, don’t want to even entertain their possibility (or rather, inevitability). But we need more endings in life. More opportunities to hurt, to mourn, to be shaken awake and most importantly—to reach. Reach for a new beginning.
I’m in the thick of a few different endings right now. The end of a long term relationship, the end of our shared apartment in NYC, and the end of financial security.
As well as Mixed has been doing, the business has a long way to go until becoming a sustainable source of income for me. I’ve been living off savings, but they’re dwindling. It’s hard to stomach. So, I’m asking myself—will I have to quit Mixed and get a job-job? Would I be able to do both at once? I don’t know. (But I suppose we’ll all find out in the next few months.) The funny thing is that now that there’s no safety net—no one to reassure me that they can take care of me in case the business goes bust—I’m forced to get my shit together. There’s simply no other option.
Endings are so hard because they strip us of comfort. We can no longer continue on with things as they were, we have to emerge anew, change our life, change ourselves. That means being acutely present, taking accountability for our actions and choices. It’s easier to keep things as they were, floating on autopilot as our wants and feelings slip by. But pursuing our deepest desires requires discomfort, risk—there’s no way around it. In order to get to the next edge, we have to confront an end.
Right now I’m back home for the holidays as I work to get back on my feet. My belongings are still in New York, packed away in the apartment I shared with my partner. I’m in between right now—not quite feeling at home in LA and not having a place to call mine in NYC. I’m holding so many mixed feelings at once. Heartbreak and healing. Fear and excitement. Precarity and possibility. Ending and beginning. In holding all these feelings at once, I’ve felt an expansion—a deep knowing that conflicting truths can run alongside one another.
But there are some truths that simply can’t coexist. While whole parts of me wanted desperately to stay in my relationship, another part whispered: go. Any time I heard that menacing voice, I squashed it down and plastered over it, hoping I could suffocate that most terrifying feeling in my gut. And for stretches of time, I was successful. I forgot. The whispering subsided.
But it always returned, each time growing louder and more urgent.
I wanted badly to ignore it. I didn’t want to break up with my best friend of nearly five years, be heartbroken over the holidays, move out of our beloved, well priced NYC apartment, disappoint my loved ones, scramble to figure out my financial situation, lose the biggest supporter of my life.
And yet, there had to be an end in order to usher in new life.
We readily celebrate acts of creation, but there is something equally powerful about the courage to destroy—the courage to welcome endings when it’s time for something to die. For a while it seemed to me easier to allow things to carry on as they were, to avoid the difficulty of tearing apart my life and breaking my heart. But the price for comfort was embodiment. Much too high.
Our immediate reaction to an ending is to run, to flee from the dark so that we don’t have to sit still with the unbearable feelings of loneliness, doubt, uncertainty. But I’m sitting with those feelings now, letting the ickiness and sadness fill me up and crying them out, sighing them out. I’m finding that they flow through me. Releasing them doesn’t rid me of hurt, but it subsides the pain for a time, until the feelings well up again and I need another release. When they come up now, I’m less scared. I’ve been around this block before and every time I circle it, the dark corners become more familiar, a place to appreciate—to savor. Because these moments make me tender, bring me closer to my inner self.
And perhaps the most exciting opening in every ending is the opportunity to stop and think about what you really want—what you deeply yearn for. After all, you’re not struggling your way through the end of one chapter only to carry on with the same in the next. No. You think about how you want to change your life, how you dream to live it, and you go for it. You go for it even though there’s no promise that you’ll accomplish all the things you set out to do. But it will mean that you tried. And in trying—in reaching for that new life—you might just build something wilder than you ever could have dreamed.