Years ago I asked a wise woman what “letting go” meant.
She said, “Sara, close your eyes. Picture an old, dusty attic. See all the dust, dirt, and cobwebs? Those are all the resentments in your head.”
I closed my eyes and saw the house I grew up on the 600 block of North Kenilworth Street in. Oak Park, IL. The attic was huge, unfinished, and dusty. I saw the dust balls, the cobwebs, the dirt. The vaulted ceilings, the cloudy windows, the storage bins and clothes racks lining the walls. I climbed the stairs as I did as a child. It was big. It was covered in dust.
“Now, picture yourself bringing a broom and dustpan upstairs. Go ahead, and sweep up all the dirt. Sweep the floor, again and again until you have a big pile. Then lean down and sweep the pile into the dustpan. Next to you is a big box. Dump the garbage into the box. When you are all done, close the box. Picture yourself wrapping the box with beautiful wrapping paper. Finish. by tying a huge, colorful bow. Take that box, lift it up. (it will be REALLY heavy, but you can do it!) Lift it and hand it to your Higher Power. Remember, your Higher Power can be anything you believe in that is bigger than you; the God of your choice, Energy, the Universe, etc.
As you hand over your big & heavy box, say, “I simply cannot do this anymore. I cannot handle this. I do not know how. I cannot stomach it anymore. I am giving this to you so I do not have to deal with it anymore. Thank you for taking all that I cannot handle.” Hand the box to your Higher Power. Simply walk away. Walk down the stairs of the attic, and notice how you feel. You will feel a little bit lighter. That, my friend, is letting go.”
I thought this was a beautiful visualization, one I thought about for many years. It wasn’t until I hit rock bottom in my marriage that I truly started putting it to use. Forty-four years I carried pain, I carried suffering that wasn’t mine. Suffering that was my parents. As a child of an extremely dysfunctional divorce (what is a functional divorce??), I carried emotions and feelings that were not mine to carry. I chose to carry this pain, not realizing it was my choice. I didn’t understand I had a choice to simply Let Go. I didn’t know how to turn it over. I heard the term “let go, & let God,” fourteen years ago. I listened and talked about letting go, never fully understanding or comprehending the concept. I chose not to try. I chose not to practice. I refused to believe something greater than myself could heal my pain.
During one of our brutal fights, (yes there were a lot of fights), I heard the ugly words, accusations, justifications, spewing back and forth, furthering my toxicity internally and externally. I had a moment of clarity. This poison had NOTHING to do with Taylor and Ryan. All the dysfunction in my marriage had nothing to do with my children. It was all ours. I knew at that moment what I did not want.
I do not want my kids to carry the pain in my heart. I do not want them to go through their lives feeling as if they must protect one parent over the other. I do not want them to worry every time they know their parents will be in the same room. I do not want every birthday, every holiday, every school function, every sporting event, every monumental event to be tinged with pain & anxiety. To be tinged with suffering. I do not want that for them. I lived that. It fucked me up. Living with that pain, that poison is debilitating.
So, what was I to do? How could I possibly achieve breaking the cycle of hate? The pain in my marriage was real. Pieces of my heart were broken. The anger, the hurt, the resentments were SO MUCH! Too much for me to carry on my own. Too much for me to hold inside. Too much for me to handle…..alone.
Deep down, a small clear voice spoke to me. I know what I need to do. I need to heal. I need to learn to let go. I need to let the pain go. Let the suffering go. Let the hurt go. Let the resentments go. I need to surrender. I need to forgive. I need to sweep up my side of the street. Sweep and sweep and sweep until there is nothing left to sweep. I must offer it to my Higher Power. I must surrender over and over and over again. As many times as the emotions creep up, as many times as the hurt seeps in, as many times as I am triggered by resentments. I simply start the process over again. Now, when those feelings come, I’m practiced enough to know the steps I must follow.
When I am kind enough to me to allow myself to let go, I find grace. I find softness. I find a gentleness inside of me, I never knew existed. I find room to grow. I find love. I find myself. I forgive myself. I am not perfect. In fact, I am so very far from perfection it’s comical, and that’s OK. For the first time in my life I am OK with not striving to be perfect. I will never be perfect, that is not my job. My job is to be the best version of myself. That I can do. That is attainable. That is worth striving for. In being the best version of myself, I am responsible and accountable for my own choices, words, and actions. The world does not owe me anything. I choose what I want to get out of life. I choose love. I choose kindness. I choose life. I choose to not to be riddled in fear & pain. I choose not to stay stuck. I choose to learn. I choose to design my future with what serves me best. I choose to live by my standards, my values, and my morals. I choose to raise my kids in this environment. I choose to teach them these life lessons in the hope that they don’t struggle as much as I did.
When you let go of the suffering, your soul opens. This is where the magic happens. In the simplicity and beauty of letting go, you start new. When you put down something that doesn’t serve you, you in turn, learn who you are. Through letting go, you are reborn. You choose to live life to the fullest. You realize life is full of joy and possibilities. As I continue to heal through letting go, I’ve been allowed to live a life I never knew was possible. To live a life with joy in my heart instead of suffering. Learning to let go, what a gift!
Thank you my Higher Power, for taking my suffering and replacing it with grace.