The Process and Progress of “Letting Go”…

“There are things that we never want to let go of, people we never want to leave behind. But keep in mind that letting go isn’t the end of the world, it’s the beginning of a new life.” –Unknown

Such an interesting theory, “Letting Go”.  The imagery can be of balloons floating off into the air, or a weight being lifted off the heart, blowing a dandelion into the wind or peace settling over your soul, however you envision it, it makes you automatically lighter.  Most recently, the concept and topic of “letting go” has been on my own mind  and like so many times when certain topics inspire you, they then tend to present themselves in a variety of different circumstances from a variety of different people.  In my head the concept “Letting go” in and of itself seems very broad as it can apply to everything from taking a deep breath and relinquishing the desire to “control” a situation to actually trying to let go of memories of relationships, mistakes, sense of failure, questions and guilt, frustrations, anger or sadness,  at both others and sometimes ourselves.   For me “Letting Go” runs the gamut, as I have tried to do this in so many situations for both myself and  regarding others actions and inactions,  but the irony of this post is that I have a VERY difficult time letting go (this is the part where you can envision the POD Storage Unit being backed into my driveway and set down so that I can attempt to it full of all my emotional baggage collected throughout my life with the hope that the company will come back and pick it up and take it away – if you don’t know what a POD is, they are a phenomenal concept in storage and moving and you should google it if you are in the market for your physical or emotional baggage, just don’t tell them that when you order, you might seem a little kooky, but I digress).  Ok, so perhaps, it’s not quite that dramatic, but I think this tendency to “hold on” is partially driven by the fact I am a highly visual person who is emotionally grounded and in her head a lot so this allows for me to vividly remember and hold onto situations that are highly emotional and it seems I hold on to these things in both my heart and head.

For other people that I have talked to recently and who have shared with me some difficult situations from their past and present such as divorce, an affair that nearly destroyed a family, failed IVF attempts, infertility, loss of a parent, and someone who had an experience similar to mine with multiples (for non parents, this is what the category of parents are called who have twins, triplets, quads,etc.) who are fine now but 9 years later can still vividly recount their NICU experience as well as the reactions good and less than sympathetic colleagues.  Being bound by memories to these highly emotional times can being tortuous at times if you see them vividly in your mind, like I do, which then allows you to feel them all over again and at the same time surprising when you think you have “moved on” and a spontaneous comment, smell, sound, song, email, touch,  sight etc. will ignite the emotions all over again.

For myself, if I really try and segment it (I don’t have to try very hard), the hardest parts of “Letting Go” in my own life, outside of the general ruminating about everyday relationship ups and downs comes down to 3 events. Within these 3 events there are many factors that contribute to my ability to “Let Go,” my own recollection of the events in my head and heart, others reactions to the events/perceived support, my expectations of myself and others, and the perceptions of how I thought things “should or would” be,  that bring me back to the place and time all of which can be triggered by external and internal situations and elements.  The time periods themselves include:

  • Childhood (I have made great progress here but certainly we all have our moments through long engrained patterns.  It’s not so much in the relationships but in the patterns I developed throughout my life and my family role.)
  • My Divorce – I had an especially difficult time here.  Partially because if I am honest I wasn’t quite prepared for the decisions I had made but I also wasn’t prepared for the reaction and sometimes rejection of others as I was the first person in my group of people to get a divorce.
  • PTSD from our NICU experience – this is a day-to-day struggle for me as it’s a cumulative pain.  Every scary event builds on the past and triggers the fear and pain from the last  3 year.  It rears its ugly head all the time in little moments when something small will happen or something will flash in my head and I will tear up and hold onto either Q or E for dear life (to which they seem confused but thankfully usually amenable.)  It happens in both good and bad times in that it can simply be a quite moment where I feel so grateful they made it and struggled to stay with us or when, like this week they both had EKG’s and the results were that Q’s heart murmur is nothing to worry about and E no longer has pulmonary hypertension.  All wonderful news, and each time the band-aid peels back and a little air comes into the deal a part of the wound but with that comes a little release in the form of raining on my face:) (if you can name the movie, I will include you in my next post.)
Now, in my mid-30’s, and many years into my process and progress of letting go, I can safely and proudly say about time periods 1 and 2, I am in the advanced stages of “letting go”.  The third stage which is ongoing is something that I will probably deal with for quite some time as I don’t quite have the faculties to make those steps although I strive to do so on a daily basis.  Through breathing, music, love, tears, laughter, hugs, kisses, talking, keeping quiet and anything else that strikes me as the best way to deal at that time, I make progress.  What I have found in my journey through these different stages is that the first step is to be open to “letting go” and recognizing you want to do so.  The next step is doing what you perceive to be best for you, whether it’s getting rid of the evidence, seeing a therapist, confronting your demons, getting up and brushing your teeth in the morning, a combination of things whatever it takes to help you get to the next step.  Of course, as the saying goes, time heals all wounds, which is true but I truly believe it’s a combination of time and being proactive.  For me it was a combination of things, therapy, packing away the memories, not having contact, and more recently being open, vulnerable, honest about where I am and how I am feeling.  The cut I have from the last 3 years is far from healed and it only takes a scratch to open the wound, but I am dealing with in the best way I know how and each day I try to take  a deep cleansing breath and remind myself where we are now and let go just a little piece of the pain so that one day hopefully I can take off the band-aid. But for now, I will just take it day by day and that’s ok to,  because with these challenges has come the most meaningful gift of my life and a new life that makes each day ‘mynewfavoriteday’. I hope if you need to you too can let just a piece go today and that your heart will be just a bit lighter and today will be ‘yournewfavoriteday’.

6 thoughts on “The Process and Progress of “Letting Go”…

  1. Great post today Shannon, your friendship, experience and insight has helped me get through a difficult week. And funnily enough a friend of mine posted this on his fb status today “Let go and move on, or hold on and stay stuck” – coincidence…I think not. JR

  2. This post today really speaks to my heart Shannon. Thank you for writing this and sharing your inner thoughts. Something I wish I’d be better. ((hugs))

  3. It takes so much to tell the world these things but I think that in and of itself is letting go and it also likely helps someone else without you knowing it. You seem like a survivor.

    1. Thanks so commenting! I think in some ways we are all survivors as we have our struggles and for each of us the joy, sadness, fear and happiness are very real in the moments we feel them. I so appreciate your joining us on this journey and thanks for commenting.

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