“Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always one more time.”
I've been reading some popular wisdom recently about how the best thing a person can do in oder to foster "personal growth" is to "just let go" of emotional attachments to people you once loved but who are no longer in your life. Although I haven't read it, a friend told me that the author Elizabeth Gilbert wrote an entire book (Eat, Love, Pray) on that theme.
I think that's not wise counsel.
I have come to the opposite conclusion, at least regarding our feelings toward those with whom we once had a positive, loving relationship that subsequently foundered. I think that what a person ought to do is to attempt to understand, as best as any typically flawed, self-justifying human being can, the actual causes for the deterioration of the relationship (and the only quarry you can ever hope to mine to any substantial depth in this respect is your own psyche), and then, based on that understanding, forgive the other person, yourself, or both, depending upon who you honestly believe most needs forgiveness. I then suggest that you re-imagine the other person from the perspective of love; not with the emotion of love (although that may result), but with charitable insight into the positive character traits that attracted you to the person, the reflection of God in the human being that He created that you either saw or should have seen. In this process, you would not completely ignore any faults of the other person, but would put them in their proper perspective, especially in light of the fact that sometimes (often) the faults we "see" in another are more a product of our own projection or transference than objective reality.
I think that my thoughts in this regard are influenced by the observations of Mother Mary Francis: the heart that loves little always sees little.
You will never "grow" in love by filing the past into compartments and walling it off. Instead, you will, I assert, grow more in love by re-imagining others from a new perspective. I have been doing, and intend to continue to do, just that. Although I may never have any personal contact with any of these people again (at least, not in this life), I'm not "letting them go." I'm going to consciously attempt to bind them closer to me than ever in a positive manner. As best I can, I am going to reconsider them with all the love I can muster.
If that process is, as one friend recently laughed, nothing more than "sugarcoating" the past, then I hope I develop quite a sweet tooth. After a lifetime of sucking on lemons, I could use all the sugar I can acquire. As Viktor Frankl has so accurately observed, how we choose to react to the events of our lives can infuse our lives with meaning. As my hours tick by, I want the meaning of my life to be more sweet than bitter.