Let Go of the Old Sweater: Toxic Relationships & the New Year


The holidays often get me thinking about relationships. I spend most of the year running around, juggling a billion different projects, never stopping to breathe when, suddenly, I get that first whiff of cinnamon. The icicle lights go up in my apartment & I'm curled up in a sweater two sizes too large with a ridiculously large mug. Just like that, it’s this time of year all over again. And yet, it's not all carols & snowflakes. Along with this warmth inducing season also comes a kind of accentuated chill, or absence.

This is the time of year when I start reflecting on the people in my life and what kind of karma I’m creating for myself in my relationships.

What have I been holding onto that no longer serves me? What relationships have I been putting my energy into and why? Are my priorities accurately reflected in my actions? Do I show the people I love that I love them?

I realize that I've been ignoring a rather obvious fact - that I’ve put a lot of my energy into relationships that aren’t necessarily the most fulfilling. I’ve been giving a lot of attention {mostly in my mind} to people who aren’t the most deserving of it. I’ve been giving less to the precious gems in my life who give me more. Where have I been? And, more importantly, how can I start to change it?

The following image comes to my mind. It's a closet. I walk toward it and I begin to pull out all the old sweaters. These are the sweaters that no longer fit—too short on the sleeves, out of style. In a way, these sweaters aren't very different from certain relationships.

People who don’t call back, who float in and out, who make me question or doubt myself, who make me feel small; yet I incessantly think about anyway. I don’t wear these sweaters regularly, but I don’t want to give them away either. I’m holding onto them for sentimental reasons. I’m used to seeing them in there. It would be strange not to have them anymore. That’s when my inner guidance, or the Goddess, comes in.

Let go of the old sweater,” she nudges.

“No. I can’t.”

“But it doesn’t fit you,” she pushes.

“It kind of fits.” I try on a sweater which is way too tight.

“No, it doesn’t. Stop fooling yourself.”

“Fine.” I pull it over my head and look down at it in my hands.

“Let it go. It doesn’t belong to you anymore. It belongs to someone else. And there’s a new sweater waiting for you. But, unless you let go the old one, you won’t have room for the new.

The Goddess always seems to have the answers. I knew she was right.

Someone once told me that Nature abhors a vacuum. When we’re brave enough to give something away that's not working for us anymore,  it will be replaced with what we actually need. It’s scary to clean out our closet, to let go of people who have become security blankets in our lives.

However, there is also an adventure that awaits us when we do. This is not saying we should expect every relationship to be "perfect." {Spoiler alert: 'perfect' isn't a real thing}. We all have our bumps and bruises. Rough patches are inevitable. This is more a call to let go of those that you know, deep in your heart, are not contributing to your well-being. Those relationships with individuals who take us for granted, yet that we hold onto anyway because we hope beyond our wildest hopes that the situation will change. That they'll all of a sudden be standing there as their shining, shimmering potential selves. That, one day, we’ll pull out the old sweater we never wear, and it'll fit perfectly and become our favorite piece of clothing all over again.

This rarely happens.

In the moment, it's hard. Yet, after we let go internally, a lightness ensues. Deep down, we know what's draining versus what's life-giving. Our hearts don't lie. We just get really good at ignoring it. As the New Year encroaches upon us, let’s give ourselves the gift of a fresh start. Let's work to let go of our old sweaters with love and appreciation. And hold out our arms for the magic Life is ready to *sprinkle* along our path.