The way to heal is to learn how to let go
Over the years I have learned one thing, we as humans are incredibly stubborn. We also hold on to so much, it is very hard to just let go. If we could easily let go and forgive we would all be set free.
But of course something always happens.
When something, anything happens good or bad it touches a place inside of you that has been there as long as you can remember, and instead of trying to deal with it, you push it back down, burying it further inside of you until the next something happens.
My first angry memory comes from when I was nine years old. My parents had decided it was best if they spent time apart. As a nine-year-old, I was unaware of what any of that meant. Nor did I understand the situation around me. My mother decided on her own that we would move to California, leaving Texas and everything I have ever known behind. My only home.
Though my brother did try to put a light-hearted spin on the situation, being that he is five years older than me I believed he knew better. He told me that California was cool, you could make U-turns when you drove, and there weren’t any tornados or hurricanes to worry about. Just earthquakes.
Once out in California that is when the world split open for me, and a number of things happened that I didn’t understand. My mother was depressed. She already kept to herself, but now she was even more withdrawn. Again, I didn’t understand what she was going through, all I knew was that I was alone. At the tender age of nine, I started getting up early each day and made my own breakfast. I would get dressed and leave the house all before my mother even rolled out of bed.
As I got older I focused every day on one thing, if I got away from California I could forget everything. I could escape the dysfunctional and not bonded family unit. I even convinced myself that I could ignore the past, everything I felt my mother had selfishly inflicted upon me, and make a new home somewhere else.
But where that was I didn’t know. I just knew I had to get as far away from California as I could.
That place was New Orleans.
I told myself I would head there for a year, looking for myself. However, I was sad all the time, though not because I missed my family. One has to be attached to a family in order for that to happen. All of my problems, fears, and anxieties had followed me all the way to New Orleans.
Now as an adult, I realize that I was still a silly little girl fantasizing that I could just wash off the hurt and the pain with merely a change of location. Though I was alone here too. There was no one there to say to me that something was wrong, or hey you need to deal with this. I was, as always, on my own.
I am a child of a baby boomer, the generation that did not talk about their feelings. They didn’t even have close bonds or connections. However, you were expected to do any and all family activities. (I never did) Still, I never thought I was depressed.
Rewind a little bit, the last time I saw my father was right before I turned eleven. Before that, I hadn’t seen him since we left texas at the tender age of nine. The year I turned 11, he died. My mother never took the time to talk to me about his death, instead, she left me with friends in California to bury my father in another state.
I never got to attend his funeral. I never got to say goodbye.
For a long time I hardly thought about his death, in fact when I did bring it up my voice held a sarcastic or angry tone. I was not happy, my childhood was rooted in emotions I didn’t understand or know how to process. I was just supposed to develop a stiff upper lip and carry on. And for a long time, I managed to do just this.
Again, I never thought I was depressed.
When you are a child you tend to see things either through rose coloured glasses or you misinterpret them. Either way things are never as they seem. As I have gotten older and I have finally stopped feeling ashamed of my mental health problems and asking for help with my post partum depression, lingering depression, and anxiety, it was then memories came into focus.
A couple of years ago, when I purchased Katherine Schwarzenegger-Pratt’s book “The Gift of Forgiveness: From Inspiring Stories From Those Who Have Overcome the Unforgivable” my eyes were really opened. You see I stopped talking to my mother for things that I could not begin to explain. She and I were never really close but there were things in my past that made it difficult for me to look past. After reading this book, and learning more about my culture, it was then I realized her situation.
Armed with this knowledge I then turned to my faith, the one message I took away from both this powerful book and my prayers was the only way to heal is to let go. The only way to find true forgiveness is to release what troubles you wholeheartedly.
In our lives, we will be wronged, hurt, bullied, harassed, or worse. We may feel alone, and trapped with our woes but there is so much more to life than holding on to things that are keeping us from moving on. I am not saying forgiving and letting go is as simple as actually saying it out loud, no. What I am saying is that forgiving and letting go is a process. You have to figure out how and focus on the person you want to be. Like many of the people highlighted in Katherine’s book, one must come to terms with what troubles us. When we first face the situation then we can tackle it. In my case, I still do not talk to my mother but I understand her better. I now understand that she was unable to be the “mother” I saw my friends have, because of the example she had. I understand better that her generation was not warm and fuzzy, or even talkative. I also understand better why she was feeling the way she did when she left my father. At the time I was not happy with her choice and hated her for dragging me along but now I realize she was in a toxic relationship and it was very brave of her to take the steps to distance herself from it.
Though we may never heal our fractured relationship, and time is slipping away, I have learned to accept her as she is. I have learned to forgive and to let go. I no longer blame her for the little things that I thought should have gone better in my life. I no longer blame her for my empty childhood or telling me that I was a mistake. I lifted my problems and sadness over our relationship up onto a cloud and released them to God. As I did this, I told myself, “I let go.”
Since doing this, after years and years of beating myself up, hating my mother etc, I felt lighter. I literally felt the door close, and I felt so much better. Though my other issues will always be there, for there is not a quick fix, I am moving in the right direction. I am learning letting go is a good thing.