Have you ever had something happen in your life that forever altered your course? Or learned something about your past that made you question who you really are? Or maybe you've got some guilt or shame or hate or whatever about who you used to be?
You know what I'm talking about. Maybe no one else knows. Maybe it's a deep, dark secret. Maybe people know some but have no idea how deep it all goes.
That Thing You Can't Let Go Of
I think we all have Things that we hold onto that we don't even realize are Past Things. But they have so deeply defined us that they are simply part of who we are.
I'm not talking about the Things We Can't Forget.
I will never forget the sexual abuse I survived. I will never foget going through a divorce. I will never forget having a miscarriage. I will never forget my first big heartbreak.
But sometimes, in each of those Things We Can't Forget, there is That Thing You Can't Let Go Of.
I became aware of one of mine after a talk with my pastor.
I was holding on to this idea that Something Could Have Saved Me. Even though I'd been in a good and strong place for years and years in terms of being an abuse survivor, there was still a piece of me that would see something or hear something or learn about something and I would then get a little obsessed with how that new knowledge could have saved me from what I went through.
There was a day when my world was rocked by some information that I *knew* Could Have Saved Me. I called my pastor because I was reeling. I needed someone to talk to who could help me see clearly, help guide me.
We sat and talked. And he gave me advice that really changed my perspective.
Does knowing it now change what happened then?
Nothing can change what happened to me. Nothing can fix it, nothing can erase it, nothing can make it something that was good.
It kind of blew my mind.
I think that my wanting to find what could have been that one thing that could have prevented or stopped what was happening was my way of holding on to this hope that it didn't really happen. Not that I had been wrong about it but that somehow finding something I could blame it on or point to as a failure would mean that I could somehow just write it off. But by always searching for that one imaginary, unattainable answer... I wasn't truly letting go of that piece of my past.
Healing takes time. There have been so many steps to get to where I am - I've had to forgive a list of people, I've had to acknowledge all that was done to me, I've had to let go of things that were out of my control, I've had to mourn and grieve a childhood.
I won't forget. What happened is part of who I am. It is woven into me and my story. But I can't change the story. It already happened. The events are over and done.
That Thing I Couldn't Let Go Of was my final thread of attempting to change something to make it all make sense, be ok. And there are just things in life that will never make sense, never just be ok, never be easy to accept. There are illnesses and natural disasters and mean people and mental illness and drugs and suicide and cancer and poverty and...
What about you? Is there something you are holding onto? Someone?
Maybe your heart has been broken. Maybe someone near and dear and important died. Maybe you were hurt and damaged and abused by an ex-spouse. Maybe you've been impacted by a medical diagnosis for youself or someone you love.
I don't know what your Unfair Difficult Life Thing is. But maybe today is a day that you can stop and look at it and maybe you'll find that there is That Thing You Can't Let Go Of. That Thing that represents hope and a wish that you could change the past.
Letting go doesn't mean you've failed your old self or that you're letting down your loved one or that you are somehow turning off all your memories and feelings.
If you're a person of faith, maybe today is the day you take That Thing and let God carry it for you so that you are free to move forward with less weight. And maybe today isn't your day. Maybe today you just recognize what That Thing You Can't let Go Of actually is, you identify it. Maybe today you read all this and think I'm only talking about someone else. Or you just think I'm full of it and don't know what I'm talking about.
A time will come when you find yourself ready to let go, to release. Realizing that you are holding on to something that is keeping you connected to the awful pain and trauma and hurt is a first step.
Maybe today is the day you realize what it is you've been holding on to.
Maybe today is the day you open your heart and Let Go.