And maybe it is hard.

And maybe it is hard.

I have always been fascinated by transformations. The desperation and tenacity of the human spirit is fascinating. I am magnetized to anyone who has drastically changed an aspect of themselves for the better. I think that is a commonality in most of us. It is why we root for underdogs, and why movies and books that focus on overcoming the odds captivate us so much. I guess it is an aspect we not-so-secretly envy in others. Jealousy or motivation – the stories entice us all the same.

I was looking at pictures of a friend who recently drastically altered her physical appearance. There were before and after pictures of her showing how unhappy she looked when she was out of shape and how proud she was not only six months later after bettering her diet and exercising. Like most of you, I was really inspired by the dedication of her work. I read some of the comments and while most were congratulatory, a few mentioned how they couldn’t put in that kind of effort because it would be really hard.
She responded, “Kicking heroin is hard. Fighting cancer is hard. Losing weight and working out is not hard.”

People fight battles differently, and one of the greatest realizations I have made is that I can’t change anyone. I can only be a supporter and advocate. But that isn’t what this is about. This is about what I believe is hard. I have never done heroin so I can’t identify with the symptoms of withdrawal and cancer hasn’t dug it’s claws into me just yet.
I looked out my window at the passing storm and listened to the hail smash down on my windowsill and asked myself, “What would be hard for me?”
Sure, I could tell you that dealing with day-to-day relationship drama or being in a constant state of financial instability or waiting for the next season of Game Of Thrones is “hard,” but it is not. None of that is hard. Mild annoyances and inconveniences at the most. I sat back and wondered, what has truly been hard for me and the first memory that popped in my head was walking through the door of a good woman who I had once told, “I love you.”

I held her in her living room while she sobbed in my arms and I said, “This isn’t working anymore. I have to leave you.” And I heard the sound of her heart breaking in her wails. The kind of howl that comes from your gut. The kind that says, I will do anything to stop from losing my best friend.

It was the sound a good woman makes when you take away her future.

If you know that sound, I’m sorry. And if I have ever caused that sound in you, know that I carry a mountain of guilt and wish that I could take away the pain I caused.
That was hard. That memory is hard. Walking away was hard.
I remember getting into a friend’s car the next day and saying, “I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.” Because ending a relationship IS hard. And it doesn’t matter which side you’re on, because even though I was the one to walk away, I left behind my best friend. The person I confided in. The comfort of having someone in my corner. And the woman I once believed I could spend the rest of my life with.
But maybe I was wrong.
Or maybe she changed.
Or maybe we evolved in different directions but I do know that we came together at just the right time to save each other from ourselves.
And maybe most people we meet are meant to be temporary. People who come into our lives and help us through the rough points until we are strong enough to stand on our own and they leave us, and it hurts.
And it’s hard.
But maybe they know we are capable of being strong on our own and we don’t need them anymore.
And maybe they leave us so someone better can find us.
And maybe we have to keep moving forward and keep smiling and saying “thank you” to strangers so we can continue to be a better version of ourselves year after year.
And maybe instead of looking at the before-and-after pictures of people online, we should be looking at who we are as humans and recognizing the transformations we have made. And if that means we have to walk away from people we have evolved past, so be it. Because nothing good ever came easy. We need to leave them behind because they are no longer ours to fix, because we have earned a better love, and so someone else can lean on them for comfort…

because we have done what is truly hard, walked away, and are now strong enough to stand on our own.

About author

Christopher Gutierrez

Christopher Gutierrez is the author of several books on love, sex, and relationships. He also hosts a weekly podcast, The Deep End, in addition to running Deadxstop Publishing. Since 2006, he has given hundreds of speakings at colleges, coffee houses and universities all over the world.

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