I read and shared a post the other day that said “I release the people that won’t soften.” And at first, I was like oooo, yes, 💯.
The beginning of the post caption said, “Today I choose to let go of people who resist conversation. People that create defense where there is none and resist ease where there could easily be softness.”
The writer goes on to talk about how we should easily feel seen, heard, and supported in our friendships. Yes, to all of that.
But the part about letting go of those who don’t soften kept rolling around in my mind. Something didn't sit right.
I used to be that person who couldn’t settle into ease with others.
We are born soft, open, and receptive. It is our natural way.
But then life happens. Almost immediately we are told to be different and we are bombarded with other people’s disapproval of who we are. We get hurt. We are told through word and deed that we are not good enough.Traumas with a big T and traumas with a little t occur. And with each wound, we add layers of armor around our hearts. We learn to become people we do not recognize when we stand in the mirror.
I do believe that ultimately the healing process culminates with us re-learning how to let the love in again. It’s a beautiful unfolding. When you emerge from the darkness that is inauthenticity and start to feel the joy that life offers, you want to let more of the love in. You crave it and begin to design your life around what fuels and feeds you.
You enter new experiences and seek new relationships openly, will full knowledge that you will get hurt and that it’ll be worth it because you deepened into love. You reach a point on the journey where you understand that people are going to disappoint you. I’m not jaded by any means. I understand now that everyone is struggling in some way just to be themselves and live up to their own expectations. We fail at pleasing ourselves all the time, so it’s an impossible ask or expectation that someone could do all they can’t do for themselves, for me.
But traveling this path takes the support of others who are a few steps ahead of where you want to be and have the capacity to hold space for you as you learn to trust again.
I had people beside me when I didn’t know how to soften. Folks who were just a little more open, tender, and loving. Friends who were more willing to be vulnerable than I knew how to be at the time. Loved ones who by their example and steady presence, helped me see what ease looked like and provided a safe space for me to experiment with removing the armor one piece at a time.
Where would I be if not for these friends who held onto me?
It’s not everyone’s work to do this. I get that. It’s hard when you are sharing yourself with another and it feels like your love isn’t landing. And certainly, when there are folks in our lives who are unwilling to look inward, try to heal, and instead project their hurt onto us in violent ways, yes, we must release them.
But we know the difference between the two kinds of people. You know the difference between the person who is hardened and bitter versus the one who through their gaze you can see the effort to receive your love. You can tell in their exhale that they are trying to soften. They release around you in subtle ways. In their voice you can hear the cracks of vulnerability when they speak words they have uttered for the first time only to you.
These are folks we don’t leave for in every micro-step, they are choosing courage over resistance. With time their hearts will one day speak louder than their woundedness. That’s a beautiful thing to bear witness to and be apart of.
I hear people say all the time that they want to help others, that they feel called to serve. Help doesn’t always mean that you’re introducing someone to the next great herb, detox or workout you discovered. Your presence, patience, and steadiness are medicine too.
If you have the capacity, choose to stand with the people in your life who are learning how to soften. Don’t give up on them.