*Before I begin this blog I feel compelled to say its title "Let it Go" is not an ode to a Disney movie where one character has icy powers and a smirky grin. As for that song, I feel as if it's truly time to...let it gooooooo. We love you Idina, but the song drives us all mad. There, I feel better. Now that we're all clear-feel free to continue on with the blog below.*
Do you have someone in your life who speaks total truth to you? Who gets all up in your grill, as we like to say in our house? I'm talking about the kind of person who doesn't just tell you what you want to hear, but tells you what you need to hear, and is not afraid to do so.
For me, that's my guy. The fact that we've known each other over 20 years means neither of us ever hold anything back with the other. He calls me out on my stuff more than any person in my life ever has. I'm a headstrong girl and I need this, even though I don't always enjoy it.
Never was this dynamic more clear than a recent chat we had over a lunch date.
We'd just finished up our food when I began to open up to him about the days and months after losing Joel (and later on our traumatic event with Ellis). I shared openly about how hard those times were. From there the conversation shifted to the people who came around me in those early days-only to suddenly disappear.
I told him how painful it was to have people make promises they didn't keep. How bad it hurt to have people return to their lives so easily when mine was a wreck. I told him how much it gutted me to lose friends when they didn't understand what I was walking through. How hard it was to feel forgotten.
I went on and on about this for a few minutes. He listened quietly, nodding to let me know he was tracking with me.
I continued. And continued. And continued....
Finally I was done, emptied of all my thoughts and feelings. I sat in silence, looking at him waiting for his validation for all of the wounded-mess and crushing pain I had endured.
He sat for a moment eventually opening his mouth to share his response.
"Baby, why are you still carrying all of this around?"
Hmmmm. Not what I was expecting.
Still, that's an easy answer, I thought.
Because it hurt. And because it wasn't right. And because people need to learn how to better empathize with people in pain. And because so many of my friends weren't really my friends.
I passionately listed out my reasons one by one.
Again he listened politely. Again he had a response.
"Right. I understand all of those things. Some of them might even be correct. But why are YOU still carrying all of this on your shoulders?"
I paused. Thinking. And thinking.....
I'll be honest, at first I was trying to come up with a reason all of my feelings were justified. And you know what? Many of them were. A lot of people DID hurt me. And a lot of people DID fail me.
Yet as I sat there trying to formulate my answer I had a realization. The entire point of his question wasn't a disputing of all the painful things I had endured. Rather, he was asking why I was making the choice to continue to hurt because of them.
I say this often: we cannot control what happens to us but we always have the choice of how we respond to it.
I can't control the people who said they would be there and weren't. Who said they loved me but didn't exactly stick around. Yet in my response I was choosing to continue to be hurt because of circumstances in which I had no choice.
The initial pain of those circumstances wasn't my choice. But the continual pain I was feeling because of it, that was all on me.
Plain and simple: I was making the choice to continue to carry the pain.
I sat there in silence for a bit. Wracking my brain trying to turn this conversation around to my favor. Sure, I thought of many more excuses I could've listed, but none of them seemed to make sense any longer.
He was speaking the truth and I knew it. My anger and pain was really only hurting me.
The bad part about this realization: he was right. Man, I hate it when that happens. I prefer to be right as often as possible, ha!
The good part about this realization: I didn't have to hurt any longer. One of the most difficult aspects of my grief journey, could be but a memory, it was up to me.
It sounds simple, right? Like a realization I should've had way earlier. But the reality was, in my case it took someone I trusted to gently point me towards the truth, before I could begin to be honest within myself in my own truth.
That conversation in and of itself was healing for me. I realized, from that moment forward, I could move in a new direction. I didn't have to continue to walk in the pain of past experiences. I could make the choice to forge a new path, one of forgiveness, letting go and moving forward.
In that very moment I made my choice. I was going to let it go.
And when the pain starts to rear it's ugly head I'll make my choice again. And again. And again. Until the choice I've made becomes my truth.
So now it's your turn.
I lovingly and gently ask this question of you:
"What are you carrying today? Why not let it go?"