Prompt: Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?
(Author: Alice Bradley)
Letting go doesn’t mean giving up, but rather accepting that there are things that cannot be – Anon
Late Friday night (Saturday morning) when a new email from the Reverb10 crew fell into my Inbox, I was so excited. I couldn’t wait to read it! I opened the email and stared at it for a few minutes. I knew the prompts were going to get more personal and that the Reverb10 team was going to bring it. Still, I was not really expecting a prompt like this one so early on. This prompt hit really close to home, as I know it has for many others participating in this amazing initiative. I spent the better part of the day with the prompt in the back of my mind while working on a take home final exam.
Whom did you let go of this year?
This year, I let go of some relationships with friends or family. Breaking free from or letting go of those relationships was difficult, but rewarding in many ways. I do not feel comfortable talking publicly about those relationships. For me, some things are not for the blog (or the Tumblr or Twitter or wherever). So I will just say – I let go of people in my life who do not lift me up, who are dishonest and who do not push me to be a better woman.
Those of you who know me in real life or who have followed my blog this year will know I also let go of someone very important to me this year. God, that sounds so small in comparison to who she was to me. She was my grandmother. She truly was the one person I was able to rely on over the course of my life. And she died last summer. This summer, I wrote about how I was finally able to let her go.
What did you let go of this year?
This year, I let go of a lot of personal belongings. I let go of some childhood toys and those old jeans that are never going to fit me again. I let go of so many of my things that I ended up letting go of storage bins!
On a more serious note –
This year I let go of some things from my past that have weighed on me for a long time. This year I experienced a number of life-changing realizations on my therapist’s couch (yes, I’ve been in therapy for two years) or on the yoga mat, while reading spiritual texts or meditating, during conversations with close friends or my mother, or in the car rocking out to some Trance. Some of these realizations allow me to let go of painful memories and feelings, false assumptions, negative thoughts about myself and unhealthy coping mechanisms. These things from my past have blocked my progress to becoming a whole person. We often rationally know that our thoughts are unhealthy, but we continue to act in ways that do not reflect that knowledge. Hell, I’ve studied psychology since I was 14 and still forget to apply those resources and knowledge to my own life. This year, I began turning Awareness into Action. This year, I let go of the idea that things could have been different in my past. I cannot change who I fell in love with. I cannot change my father’s choice to cheat on my mom. I cannot change my mother’s choice to live with anger for years. I cannot change the alcoholics in my life. I cannot change what people have said and done to hurt me. I cannot change the things I’ve done to hurt myself and others. I cannot change the past, so I must do my best to move forward with forgiveness, knowledge and self-awareness.
Throughout the day yesterday, I wrote down some of the realizations that allow me to let go of my past. I’m not a huge fan of bullet lists, but here goes:
- I do not have to love you just because you are family
- I do not have to love you even if you say you are sorry
- I do not have to forget, but I must forgive you so I can let go and move forward
- I am not a failure if I do not live up to your expectations or even the expectations I have of myself
- If you do not love me, that is OK – hell, if you do not like me, that is OK, too
- I am not you, so I should not compare your abilities, goals and lifestyle to mine
- When I say No, it does not mean I do not love you or that your needs are invalid; it means that I must put my needs and love for myself first – I understand your anger, but I cannot feel guilty about it
- Your lack of consideration, empathy or thoughtfulness towards me has nothing to do with me
- It is not my responsibility to rescue you because I cannot participate in the victim-rescuer-perpetrator abuse triangle – I can love you unconditionally, but I cannot save you from their addiction, self-hatred, mental illness or bad relationship
- Happiness is different for everyone – my happiness and your happiness are equals no matter how different our lives may be
- Pain is not a weakness – sit with it, feel it, allow it to flow through you or you can never move past it
- The knowledge that I lived with depression and anxiety for 12 years means it is time for me to live the next 12 years as free from depression and anxiety as possible
- It is OK to admit that I need help – no matter what I need help with
- I do not have to be a mother or a wife to be a complete woman
- I do not have to be skinny to be pretty
- I do not have to be pretty to be loved
- I am “good enough” today, where I am, in this moment
- Anger usually stems from fear or sadness – again, sit with it so you can understand it
- You will never truly know how much you hurt me, so if I hold onto this pain, you still control me
- Neglect (both physical and emotional) is a form of abuse – period (this was a huge one for me)
- If I start to feel anxious or emotional or feel like everything is falling down around me, I must ask myself two questions – have I eaten and have I slept?
- I cannot let go of my past until I forgive myself – for everything
- I cannot forgive myself until I love myself
- Until I love myself, I cannot truly be happy
What personal truths and healthy thoughts allowed you to let go of someone or something this year?