What’s the difference between moving on and letting go?

Oof, this is a biggie. Because I just did both and we need to talk about it.

You might have feelings about what I let go of–I’d love to hear what you’ve let go of lately.

I woke up on the morning of January 9th of this year and saw that Bob Saget died. He was sixty-five. The news said, no foul play or drugs. He had just done a 2-hr comedy set and had tweeted: “I had no idea I did a 2 hr set tonight. I’m happily addicted again to this.”

I thought to myself, Wow. I don’t know Bob, but he is…was…not that much older than I am.

Then I opened the book I’d been working on for almost exactly a year. For at least fifty hours a week or more, I’ve sat at desks, in cars, in coffee shops, and wrote multiple versions. I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words. I was on contract and deadline. I had to finish it by March 18.  Yes, next month.

This book had gone astray like my chin hairs after a week without my magnifying mirror and favorite tweezers. The book was not working, and I hated it. You would too if you read it.

To be fair, I’ve hated a lot of things I’ve worked on—I don’t believe everything should give you unmitigated joy. Sometimes you do things for money that are not your passion and you dislike. YOLO is not a thing with me.

I considered outlining the book for the hundredth time. I felt the old frustration mount. The mean girl in my head sneered, “What is wrong with you Ann? Maybe you’re washed up. Why are you so terrible at this?”

I thought about crying. I thought about Bob.

What would Bob do? I asked myself and the answer was…Bob died yesterday.

My next thought was, I should quit writing this book. I wiped that thought away as quickly as it came. That mean girl, who might not be a girl said, “No, Ann. You don’t ever give up on stuff. It’s not in you.”

Side note: I did give up on my marriage. But, my husband lived in my basement for a while so I didn’t really give up on him.) **Therapy note: My therapist and I have talked at length about co-dependency just in case you’re thinking, She is co-dependent. I can smell that a mile off.

I had the thought, I do not want to die writing this book—I know, so much drama.

But, the mere thought of quitting filled me with relief that was bigger than my ego or fear. The kind of relief you feel when the doctor calls and says, those headaches are not a tumor.

Then I called a friend and I practiced saying this. “I’m going to stop writing this book.”

She said, “Wait, I just woke up from a nap. What are we talking about? I told her and she listened.

I called other people and talked it out until they said, “I’m tired now, Ann.”

Then, I stopped writing that book, proposed a new one and I’m writing that book now.

What’s the difference between moving on and letting go? Moving on is when you physically remove yourself from something. Letting go is when you release the emotions wrapped around that something. Moving on is easy. Bob helped me with the letting go part-it took one year and thirty seconds to get there.

I think Bob would be both confused and proud of me. I mean we don’t know each other but I hear Bob is super nice, super supportive. Was, I mean. Because Bob died.

Xo Ann

P.S. If you want to read Chapter One of the book I’m letting go stay tuned and I will post the first chapter next month.

Big thank you to Samantha Hoffman for editing this piece. She edits all my essays. Click for her services.

If you want to read about gift giving for the trying (but also maybe nice) man in your life. Read here for a giggle.