Learning the Art of Leaving Gracefully

awakening chronicle awakening reflection (blog post) letting go Dec 08, 2019
Leaving gracefully
People come into our life for a reason, a season or a lifetime and we don't always know at the beginning which it will be.

An important part of our journey is learning to recognise when it is time to let go that which no longer serves us. When the reason, or season, for that relationship has passed and it is time to move on.

This hasn't been something I've been good at. All my life I've tried to hang on to relationships with mentors long after their sell-by date. I have then felt abandoned when finally they decided to leave.

This is a tale of how I came to recognise that in myself and how I learned to let that old story go.

The focus of this extract from my Awakening Chronicles is drawn from an email that I sent to someone who had been an early mentor on my path.

To give a bit of background context:

I had been upset when a mentor I was following on Facebook decided to follow a new path and stop posting on Facebook and go off and write a spiritual-related course. I offered to edit the course manual for her, so I could keep in touch with her insights and support. I didn't want to let go of the relationship and so I followed her, to keep it going.

I soon realised that this had been a mistake and things became uncomfortable between us.
So, after an email exchange about the situation, where my mentor had asked me to reflect on how I wanted to move forward, I meditated on it and I did card readings, asking for insight and guidance.
The result of that inner exploration was the email that I am now going to share with you.

I composed the email in a story format as, at the time, it seemed the easiest way to explain why I was going to leave. The format of the story is based on 'The Hero's Journey' analogy (see note at end of article) which looks at the stages a hero goes through on their road to enlightenment.


Journal Extract: 15th October 2017


Dear [Friend's name]. I feel very much drawn to express what I want to say to you in the form of a story. I hope you will honour me by reading it.


Once upon a time there was a young woman who embarked on her hero's journey. She had many adventures and overcame challenge after challenge that tested her courage - but she was always brave enough, and had enough grit and determination, to face up to and conquer each challenge and move on to the next. At each stage in the journey she met people who helped her along the way and offered her tools and things she needed to succeed in her quest of that time.


Eventually after many, many years, our hero, no longer so young, arrived at a new stage of her journey. As before, she followed her intuition and identified and made contact with a teacher whom she knew would help her. This teacher was very kind and, as many teachers do when they recognise a student with potential, the teacher decided to take our hero under her wing for a while.


She taught our hero many things, gave her tools and advice, made her question her ideas about everything and gave her a whole new understanding of life and the universe. Our hero was involved in some adventures with her and was even a catalyst for the teacher to have some realisations about herself too.


After a time of learning and sharing had passed, the teacher decided that she needed to leave, because she had to set off on a new path of her own.


Our hero was aghast, because she had thought that the teacher would be around for much longer. She didn't feel ready yet to move on, so she decided to follow the teacher on her path and offered to carry her pack, to give her a reason to accompany her. The teacher agreed and they set off together.


However, they hadn't gone far down the road before our hero started to feel very uncomfortable and realise that this wasn't the right path for her. She started a silly squabble about the weight of the pack she was carrying for the teacher, instead of feeling honoured to be allowed to carry the pack.


The teacher stopped and asked our hero if she was absolutely sure this was the path she wanted to travel. And because she was kind, the teacher sat down at the side of the road and gave the student time to think things through.


Our hero sat on a rock and looked back down the path she had come. She realised that she'd had a repeating pattern all her life of not knowing when to let go of relationships with mentors when their time had passed. She recognised that this was the same scenario.


Their paths had overlapped for a while and they had enjoyed each other's company and learned many things together - but when she looked at the path ahead, she realised that this route she was taking was not her true path. Her teacher was heading in a different direction. The teacher knew that, of course, but was kind enough to give our hero time to work this out for herself.


Our hero also realised that the whole purpose of this next stage of the journey was to become independent and fully responsible for herself. She couldn't do that if she clung on to her teacher to be a lifeline. She had to face these challenges for herself.


She thought of others' hero journeys and remembered that they had always lost or left their mentor before the final big battle. They could journey on with their peers, but always they faced their ultimate challenge, their final Nemesis - their biggest fear - alone.


Our hero also remembered that her teacher had told her that when she had made this journey, she'd had no map or mentor or companions on her journey and had had to figure it all out for herself.


However, our hero realised that she was in a much stronger position. She had companions of her peers who were travelling the same road. She knew the destination she was heading for and had a map of the stages of the journey to get there. So she was very fortunate.


Therefore, having sat and thought about this for a while, her own path ahead became clear and our hero recognised and acknowledged that this current path was not the right one for her. Her true path lay in a very different direction.


So she thanked the teacher for her kindness and patience and all the wonderful gifts she had given her.


Our hero felt extremely honoured to have met her teacher and been allowed to walk some of the way with her. Her life had been very enriched by the experience. But that season had passed and the lesson to learn here was to finally recognise this and not to resist it out of fear, but to acknowledge it gracefully and graciously and move on.


So with love and gratitude in her heart for all she had learned, and all they had shared, she handed the pack back to the teacher and wished her every success. Then, shouldering her own pack, set off on her own true path to continue her hero's journey....


For some reason it felt like writing a story for you was the best way of explaining it. I thought about a podcast I'd heard recently about the stages of the Hero's journey and it seemed to equate to what was happening here. I also did a lot of meditation and consulted my cards and the outcome was always the same. Separation. The only thing that altered were the conditions of the separation. If I resisted, it would be acrimonious and traumatic. The more graciously I accepted it, the happier everyone would be.


So I have finished the editing of your manual and I offer that freely and with love. I had always wanted to give it to you freely, and I thank you for helping me identify those hidden motivations and giving me those insights about why I suddenly felt I had to challenge that. I feel now that it was the Universe giving me a wee transformational crisis, leading me to these realisations and allowing me a chance to resolve this abandonment fear. I hope I have learned the lesson well.


Nobody on this stage of their Hero's journey still has their mentor with them. This stage of the journey involves us facing up to our biggest challenges by going within. Not by relying on anything external.


So the conclusion of my deliberations over the weekend is that the Universe has told me that we come to a parting of the ways, my dear girl. I must withdraw from this relationship - acknowledging that the time for you to be my mentor has passed - but I want to do it as gracefully and as graciously as possible, so that the memories we have of this time are those of warmth and generosity and having been enriched by the experience of having walked a-ways together.


I think you probably know this and have just been waiting for me to make the same realisation. I thank you for your kindness and patience and allowing me to make the decision, rather than make it for me.


I am not being abandoned, nor am I abandoning you. We each have our own paths to walk, in a different direction, and I recognise that this is not a 'bad' thing. It just is reality. Its season has passed, and will fade away.


I wish you well on your hermit's journey and every success in your life. Maybe our paths will cross again in the future.


With much love and eternal gratitude.

Shuna xx


End of journal extract


The good news is that the email was very graciously received and we parted amicably. I am grateful that I learned that lesson because we have since remained in occasional touch and everything remains cordial between us.


I share this story with you because I think that we all have to recognise that there will be times when we have to let go of that which we have outgrown. It is an essential part of our growth path. The more graciously we can do it, the easier the transition will be.

End note: Click on this link if you would also like to listen to the podcast about the Hero's Journey I had heard.


Spiritual Awakening Support is here to help you on your awakening journey at whatever stage. Here are two free offerings that can help support you on your journey:

Read our EPIC blog post about 7 Stages of the Awakening Journey which outlines these 7 stages and has links to a huge variety of the resources we offer.

We would also draw your attention to our free workbook and video series called 10 Self Care Practices for Your Awakening Journey. Find out more by clicking here.