Sometimes, the only thing that makes us stay in a bad relationship is the fear of letting go.

My head was filled with thoughts of revenge. He had me in his grip, he possessed me and he had taken my freedom from me. Every hour of every day was being eaten up by thoughts of this toxic relationship. The situation I found myself in was beginning to drive me insane, but I kept calm, no really, I was calm!

My story is one of what occurs when other people in our lives have the audacity not to adhere to the plans that we set for them. It is also a story of how to find out that no one can control us and rob us of our freedom unless we allow them to.

As is the case with many people these days, our relationship began on the internet. I had replied to an advertisement for cheap software. I really needed that software and he had it, or at least that’s what he said.

The only thing I needed to do, it seemed, was to hand over $50, so I made the payment. At first, I felt that excitement you feel when you can see that your plans for another person are starting to take shape. It felt like we were going to beat the system, and that felt great. Today it was software, but who knows, perhaps later, he could have much more to offer me.

Then, he dropped off the radar. It had been a few days since I had heard from him, so I gave him a call. There was no answer, so I texted, but there was no reply. I tried Twitter, I tried Facebook, I even briefly considered sending him a singing telegram, but it was all to no avail.

There had been not a single word from him, no software, nothing at all. All my expectations lay in tatters around me on the floor. In my haste to gain what I needed from the relationship, I had ignored the obvious warning signs. Even so, I still clung on to the belief that, if I could just get his attention, he would see what I wonderful woman I am. We could be good together, we could make it work. I kept thinking to myself “come on, deliver that software”, but nothing arrived.

Being so set on getting what I wanted out of the relationship had made me ignore the red flags. That’s when I started to become desperate. I tried every trick in the book to try to get his attention and even came up with a plan to get a friend to pose as a customer, but that didn’t work either. I can still picture him now, sniggering at my pathetic efforts.

Thankfully, I had my 20 years of practicing mindfulness to fall back on. So, each time the thoughts of “Give me my software!” or “I want my software!” ran through my head, I took a deep breath. The thoughts continued to build up my mind, until, finally, enlightenment!

It dawned on me that I had put myself in this stranglehold, all by myself.

I was thinking about this man who had broken his promise every waking hour of the day. By continually focusing all my efforts on indignantly chasing him for some justice, I had basically tied myself to him.

I sat with this new-found awareness for a moment and noticed how my muscles tensed when I thought about the situation. Then I started to make myself more aware of thoughts like “It isn’t fair!” and became more mindful of the feeling of outrage and embarrassment that I was experiencing. I sat and I breathed for a while, and I didn’t try to solve a thing.

I began to look back on my past and reflected on the times that I had been in similar situations.

Most of these times had involved romantic partners. In that type of scenario, I had adopted a blinkered approach too, simply so I could hold on. I blindly refused to accept that much of the pain that I was experiencing was being caused by my unwillingness to let go of something that had already passed.

In the case that I now faced, it was money that had gone and a man had made promises that he hadn’t fulfilled. When I analyzed the situation more calmly, I came to the conclusion that I could hold on and suffer more pain and anguish, or I could let go and be set free.

My mind made up, I took a deep breath, planted my feet firmly in the ground, and I dialed his number again. Much to my amazement, after what had seemed like an age of silence, he picked up the phone. I told him clearly that he didn’t owe me any money and we were all square. I even thanked him for everything that he had done for me, and I meant it.

Letting go doesn’t mean that you have to go without what you want, or foregoing your right to what you believe you deserve. Letting go simply means finding that sweet thing we call freedom.