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Learning the Art of Letting Go

Thoughts on just enjoying the ride.

I’m one of those people who believe the Earth is turning on its axis solely from my great effort and free will. I’ve always been incredibly ambitious. I’m convinced there is absolutely nothing I can’t do. As long as it doesn’t mix with my fear of heights at which point I become a complete pussy to the eleventy billionth degree. Hence, why I only made it halfway up the Eiffel Tower which is something I’ve dreamed about doing since I was a little girl.  (Next time I’m bringing vodka and it may go better.)

But mixed with my belief that I can make anything happen of my own free will is one of the hardest lessons I’ve learned and that is that other people also have free will. You can’t, no matter how hard you try, control other people. Oh sure, we all know great manipulators, with Girl Scouts and their damned cookies being among the best.  But their victory over me in buying a box of thin mints, which I hate, lies squarely on my shoulders.  My decisions are my own.

I still love the movie Bull Durham. I remember my mom took me to see it back in the 80s and one of the lines that stick out in my head most is when Millie tells Annie the reason she was caught in the locker room with Nuke LaLoosh was that she was “lured”.  At which point Annie replies, “You didn’t get “lured”. Women never get lured. They’re too strong and powerful for that. Now say it — “I didn’t get lured and I will take responsibility for my actions”.

With the belief that I can make anything happen, also comes my downfall.  Isn’t that funny how our greatest strengths can simultaneously be our greatest weaknesses?

The lines get very blurry for me. And I’ve spent a lifetime trying to “fix” my problem and learn the difference between what I can make happen and what I have to completely and wholly “let go” of.  And here’s the trick to it.

You have to let go, of everything.

When I was a kid I thought if I acted and said and was the right person I could “make” people like my parents love me. I know that sounds like a ridiculously horrible thing to say. It’s not a pity thing. I got all the love I needed from my sister who filled the role of my mom and my grandparents while I had them. But kids will still jump through hoops to gain approval, especially from their parents. And then it can spill into all other areas. We think and believe if we act a certain way someone like a teacher or friends will approve of us.

The hard truth is, that there is nothing you can do to “make” people like or love you. Their actions lie solely within themselves. Their behavior belongs to them. I know I sound like I’m talking to third graders. And I don’t mean to oversimplify but you would be surprised how many people don’t get this. And for some of us, it was always our default.

I’ll never forget when I finally “let go” of all my efforts to attempt to create a life filled with people who accepted me. And when I did, did I ever.  Forever I wouldn’t talk about politics because I might offend someone.  I didn’t talk about sex because I might offend someone.  I didn’t talk about a lot of things, because oh no, what if they didn’t agree with me and therefore disapprove of me? And even worse, what if they left my life. When I finally got it, I really got it and I didn’t care anymore what people thought about me or if they accepted me, and suddenly, that’s when my life began to work. And work well.

My life went through purging. A lot of people left my life. And a lot of people came into my life. And the cream of the crop stayed in my life.  They love me unconditionally. Even when I say things they don’t agree with.

And yes, I’ve had a couple of relapses. For a short time I thought if I were skinnier, richer, and smarter, I could make Mr. Wrong love me. He didn’t. And thank God!

My friend this past week had a horrible health scare. And she’s one of those people who make hummingbirds look lazy. With her recovery comes the strict instructions to do nothing but rest, likely for the next few weeks. She could fight it. She could push herself, but it could prolong her health issues if she does.  She and I were talking yesterday about a couple of different things and we summed up both our woes with all we can do is “let go”.

We really have no control over certain situations and outcomes.  And our best efforts can often put us back at square one. But there is magic in letting go and having the faith that everything will turn out as it should. That doesn’t give us a pass to sit on the sofa eating bags of Jalapeno Kettle Cooked chips and expect we will get everything we want in life. We still have to show up and do our part BUT THEN WE LET GO.

In the end, it all comes down to this, faith.

Faith, in the words of one of my favorite humans, to ever live, Corrie Ten Boom, is this. “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”  But what I’ve noticed is people don’t like faith.  It’s not comfortable or easy for most of us. They want something they can touch, see, figure out or do all on their own. But it doesn’t work that way and you will make yourself completely mental trying to force life along. Trust me, I did it for almost a lifetime.  It never works. 

But what does work is letting go…always. All you can do is your best efforts, voice what you want, which I do to God, and then I let it go. Sometimes it takes me longer than other times but for the most part, I get it.

And I’m happy. I get to be my authentic self.  I attract and draw other authentic people into my life.  And I get the opportunity to put my life in God’s hands, which he seems to do a much better job anyway.

Life is short. Let it all go and enjoy the ride.

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