Have you ever seen that show "Hoarders: Buried Alive"? If you haven't, it's on par with watching "Poltergeist." Scary. Really scary. So those of us who watch it look on in abject horror, vowing we will never let our homes get to that state. And yet we never evaluate our love lives this way.
If you took an honest assessment of your life, are there exes you're still (maybe just a wee bit) holding onto? If you hesitate, that's a yes. This was an epiphany I had recently. Much like hoarding, it's gradual until one day you wake up and can't find the kitchen. It's also a mental block, holding on to the past as an ideal.
I was asked this question recently and I immediately started to blurt out, "Nooo-wellll, not really." That's a yes. Now, if you haven't forgiven all of your exes and asked for their forgiveness, that's the first step. I've sent apology letters as much as 20 years late, and I let go of any actions they did against me. You can just write and burn letters to them. The overall intent is to release both of you. If it would benefit them to hear an apology, by all means humble yourself and do it! If it wouldn't, then write and burn. One great suggestion was to write an "I'm pissed at you" letter, then write a letter of explanation from their perspective. Often it doesn't go: "Oh you were perfection personified and I was the slug who didn't get it," BUT it does admit their fault, your fault, and takes away any lingering emotion.
I evaluated this a bit further. Is it holding onto someone if you keep their letters, emails? It seems like that's an easy yes but it all depends on the intent. I went through a lot of these old emails. If they weren't 'attagirls' or affirmations that brought good memories, then they were discarded. Nearly all were discarded. A few were kept as memories from an important time in my life, whether it was young adult coming of age or someone helping me through the loss of my mom. Honestly, if this correspondence was lost in a move I wouldn't be heartbroken, but I also feel no attachment to the person writing them.
One might also ask what it means to still be friends with an ex. Again, it's all about intention. There are some exes that I don't want to be friends with. We're at different places in our lives and we don't really help each other grow in a positive direction. No problem, just don't need to keep in touch. Then there are those that I wouldn't want to spend the rest of my life with them, and vice verse, but we are great supportive friends of each other. We remain friends but we also never looked back and there are no "what if" thoughts going on. They're just buddies and I support them finding truly great women to spend their lives with.
So recently I severed all emotional ties with the men of the past and present that weren't really what I was looking for. If there were casual relationships that weren't going anywhere, well they're not going anywhere. If we're willing to be friends then it can go there but if he might want more, gotta let you go. It feels so good, like when you clean out your closet and donate carloads to charity.
Because let's face it, if you know in your soul that someone is not right for you yet you still hold onto some sort of hope, you're carrying around dead weight. And what is that doing to future great men in your life? They'll have to wade through all that crap and they may not make it, just like that hoarding dream I have of not finding the kitchen. It serves no one to carry that weight around- not you, not him, and certainly not any future beaus you may have.
Winter is that perfect time to clean out the clutter. Whatever it takes- writing and burning, deleting phone numbers, emails, etc., or even ceremonial severing any energetic tie to another (I know, I know); but seriously, clear the clutter and start the new year off right.