Let it go. Let it go?

What am I doing?

Why am I holding on to so many hurts?

Im not who you think I am.

I have picked myself up, dusted myself off and moved on so many times its pretty much my super power.  But here’s the thing, that super power is also my kryptonite.

Ask anyone who knows me or thinks they know me to describe me in five words and I’d put money on the following reply: Crazy, Fun, Strong, Loyal and Caring.

Am I?

Well, yes I think I am all those things, but there is another version of me, a version few people have ever seen, yet alone had a chance to get to know. The dark me.  The hurt me.  The incredibly lonely, utterly sad and endlessly scared me.

I don’t tend to cry a lot, I haven’t exactly figured out why, but my brain rejects the emotions that would make any normal person wail. It’s not that I don’t cry, it’s just that my crying lasts about 10 seconds before something forces me to suck it up, get it together and stop being so damn silly.  I wish I could cry properly.  Sometimes I think if I truly started to cry for all the hurt and sadness I feel inside, I might never stop.  I might cause a flood.

The division between the me that they see and the me that I see is so huge that I pretty much feel like a total fraud which pours thick curdled guilt into my already overflowing cup of self-loathing but we’ll put that aside for now.

Sadness. The recent pixar movie Inside Out, really struck a nerve when I watched it with my kids.  It was a wonderful way to put emotions and mental health across to kids.  However watching it  I couldn’t help but feel robbed, cheated out of Joy entirely.  I don’t think an animated movie or any movie for that matter has ever had such an impact on me.  It made me go on a time travelling mission, which im not actually back from yet (so yes I’m writing this to you from somewhere between 1983 and 2016).  While the movie depicted Joy as the main character, the leader in the minds control centre, I couldn’t help but think that for me, sadness has been taking the reins for pretty much my whole life.  Remember the Core Memories, the ones that were yellow and joyful until Sadness touched them and turned them blue, I think mine are all blue.

This isn’t about feeling sorry for myself, or seeking pity.   This is about self-discovery, realisations, learning and growing.  And after 36 years of life, I have only just acknowledged through the help of my counsellor, the true depth of the sadness that I carry, the weight of the hurt and the burden it is on my life.  It’s been strangling me for years.  The root of my anxieties, depression and even physical illness.

So the first thing I am told is that I need to “let go”. HAHAHAAHAHAH.  If only it were that simple hu?

I thought I was very much the hippie, go with the flow, deep and meaningful butterfly woman. I was wrong.  All this time I thought I was letting go, I was actually burying.  Pushing each hurt, each sadness, each tear, way down inside so that I wouldn’t have to feel it.  The problem with this? It’s much like sweeping things under a rug; eventually the rug is just floating on a great big pile of shit.   It begs the questions, why haven’t I let it go?  Why haven’t you let it go?  I’m not entirely certain just yet but one possibility is that holding on to the pain, to the hurt, allows us to live in some kind of sick fantasy land where we can continuously punish ourselves while also remaining well and truly in the bargaining stage of grief.  This is the stage where you are convinced there is still something you can do, say, feel or think that might undo the hurt, or change the past.  One of my biggest pains and deepest sadness was the loss of someone I loved very deeply and I recognise now that after 8 years I still haven’t let go, not really, I still feel like I can undo his passing and make it so he never went away.  How insane is that?

So what the fuck does letting go actually mean? Well my counsellor and I are going to talk about that next week.  In the meantime, being the impatient  git that I am, I decided to start looking into it myself.  The general consensus from various sources implies a period of grieving is required in order to effectively “let go”.   Many people think grieving is only about dealing with the death of a loved one, however the process of grieving can follow any situation where a sense of loss is felt.  Loss of innocence, loss of love etc.   The reason why we fail to let go is because as I already mentioned above, we get stuck in the bargaining stage.  Back in the 60s Elisabeth Kübler Ross’s book, On Death and Dying, set out the stages of Grief, completely changing our view and understanding of the process.

The five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. To be clear, even by Kübler Ross’s own admission, the stages are not set in stone, not everyone will experience each stage and even when they do they won’t come in any particular order and worse still just when you think you’re in the clear you can slip right back to one of the stageskind of a lather, rinse, repeat affair. There is no structuring grief, each process is as individual as the person navigating it.

My list of things to let go is pretty fucking long so in order to deal with my grief as a whole, I’m going to have to break down the list and try to find a way to grieve each loss one at a time.

I must admit I’m pretty bloody terrified about what this process will be like and who I will be when I get to the other side. After 36 years of holding it together, keeping a smile on my face, being the life and soul of the party, I wonder what will be left of the me people think they know.

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