Following is the full transcript of author Jill Sherer Murray’s TEDx Talk titled “The Unstoppable Power of Letting Go at TEDxWilmingtonWomen conference.
In this talk, Jill recounts her story of love, loss and new life, and shares the 5 Steps she took to change what didn’t work and make welcome what she desired in her life and relationships.
Listen to the MP3 audio version here: The Unstoppable Power of Letting Go by Jill Sherer Murray at TEDxWilmingtonWomen
Jill Sherer Murray – Author & Speaker
Letting go can make you unstoppable. I know because I let go of a relationship and reclaimed my life.
And I know that letting go can create the best of change for each and every one of you. Let me tell you a story.
When I was 41, the death of a relationship showed me how to truly let go of what wasn’t working.
See, up until that time, I didn’t really think about the future. I kind of lived my life like a dog – moment to moment. I chased balls, I ate whatever I could find on the ground. And life was good.
I had a great job, great friends, a great apartment, a great actual dog, and a great boyfriend. Well, sort of.
See, Hector didn’t have any skin in the game, and I felt that. He danced around the very idea of marriage, and after 12 years, we didn’t even live together. Still, he gave me hope. Well, sometimes.
More like living in a situation that had no hope just felt normal. Don’t get me wrong. I stayed because Hector was a good looking, smart, reliable, and sensitive guy who cared, and while our relationship wasn’t perfect, it worked in theory.
Until a wake-up call from a friend changed everything.
So my realtor friend called to tell me about a condo coming up for sale in my Chicago neighborhood. She knew that I was looking for Hector to commit and thought, ”Well, maybe this could inspire a little forward motion.” Still, my first inclination was to say, “We’re not ready. Not yet.”
Haha, “Not yet.” That was Hector’s favorite catchphrase.
I would say, ”I want to get married.”
He’d say, ”Not yet.”
I’d say, ”Let’s live together.”
”Not yet” was a hair I couldn’t get out of my eye and a bad song I couldn’t get out of my head. So you could imagine my surprise when he said “Sure” to meeting me at the condo at noon.
Now, I arrived early and eager. But Hector? Haha, well that was another story. 12:15 came. 12:30. 12:45. 1:00 pm. No Hector.
Eventually, he called, something had come up. So we agreed to reconvene at three, but Hector was a no-show again. It was in that moment that I decided, after 12 years, it was time to let go.
See, I had to let go of Hector and of the idea of marrying him or anybody because at 41, my options were scary. I could either stay with a man who couldn’t commit, but was great on all the holidays and birthdays, or I could break up with him and be alone.
Not that letting go of a good man I truly loved was easy. No, no. I had to survive the consequences of my epiphany, and that’s when the pain stage kicked in. “You and Hector won’t be together forever. You won’t be his person. In fact, he’ll probably meet somebody else fast, marry her, and she’ll be his person. And then you’re going to have to live with the fact that you made a mistake.”
I ugly cried, ate a lot of pizza, listened to a lot of Joni Mitchell.
And then, when I couldn’t rub my eyes anymore without hitting bone or imagine Hector in a wedding photo with another woman, probably in a size-6 dress, I brushed myself off.
See, I let go of the fear that I would grow old and die alone, that my friends would use me as a cautionary tale, that it was too late for me.
No, no. In that moment, I had to finally admit what I really wanted, which was more. You see, Hector not showing up, that was a gift, and that it gave me freedom because let’s face it, I’d been chasing that ball for 12 years. No, no. It was time to move on, even if I risked rejection.
So I made a plan, one that got clearer with every step. Of course, Hector had an excuse for his no-show. But by then, it didn’t matter. I told him it was over. I quit my job, I hugged my friends, I sold my beautiful condo in the same neighborhood that delivered me that life-changing epiphany.
I let go of everything to start a whole new life in New Hope, Pennsylvania. To which he said, ”Don’t go, we’ll get married.”
To which I said, ”You had 12 years.”
To which he said, ”I’ll come visit.”
To which I said, ”Not yet.”
Was it hard? Ha ha, you bet.
Was it worth it? Within a year of leaving, I met my husband Dan online. I knew when he showed up for our first date, in the most wrinkled shirt I have ever seen, with a rain hat to keep me dry walking from the restaurant to the car, that this was my guy.