Letting Go vs. Forgiving
A few years ago I learned that rehashing the past is another form of self-harm. One more thing to add to the list of “Things Adande Does Wrong.” It makes sense though. The Event happens. It’s uncomfortable and there are consequences. If only the stars were aligned differently everything would have happened another way and surely that way would be much better than what actually happened. Your tone would have been appropriate or you would have said what you actually meant. You would have talked less, listened more, fought harder, or maybe you would have stopped and realized in that moment that you were pushing something you wanted out of reach. The point is, you would have been better, you know how to be better. And now you can’t stop thinking about it. Unfortunately, every time you replay the incident in your mind you are forcing yourself to re-live and re-feel every piece of discomfort. For things that are particularly hard for me to make peace with, this is excruciating. But I keep doing it. If I’m lucky I can forget about it. When I’m not, I have to figure out how to let it go.
What I’ve realized is that forgetting is a process of emotional or mental detachment. It’s almost like habit replacement because you have to put enough “stuff” between you and the thing you’re trying to cut out so that it doesn’t resonate so loudly. You have to do enough stuff, experience enough stuff, or talk about so much other stuff that everything associated with The Event falls off your psyche like an old wart. If time heals everything, shoving new stuff into your life is like a fast forward button. Forgetting doesn’t change anything, it just dissolves the emotions so processing can happen. But this isn’t about avoidance. The purpose is to forget the sting of the impact. To give yourself enough space and good thoughts that you override the “yucky stuff” so you can just deal with The Event. Logically. Rationally. With a full head, open heart and your best self forward.
Other times The Event may feel like it is fused to your skin. You feel hurt, angry, used, and ugly. Like getting a pimple on your nose, you can see it everywhere you turn, no matter what you choose to look at. You carry it everywhere you go and when you manage to forget about it for a moment, you see yourself in the mirror, someone points it out or worse, it grows. Church folk will say “let go and Let God,” but this has always been a hard concept for me.
I am not one to hold grudges, however, it takes some time for me to filter. While I’m processing I choose not to entertain anything about the situation because I don’t think you should pick at scabs before they heal. It hurts. Bazinga! It is much harder to detach from what you still feel. When something bad happens the results are a constant reminder you messed up or something got messed up. Letting go is harder because it is rooted in the desire to change the outcome not “The Event.” It has less to do with what happened as much as it has to do with what we thought our future would look like. “The Event” altered up our life picture.
Only recently have I begun to understand the value of giving “it” away. When you want to get rid of something you no longer need you donate it or throw it away. It’s the same with emotional attachments. You have to give it away, throw it away or at least put it down. Holding on is literally re-injuring yourself over and over again. You may not be able to forget, but you can choose not to think about it. You may not be able to alter the effect of The Event, but you can prevent the effects from driving you insane. You may not be able to throw it away immediately, but you can start by putting it down for a little bit.
The purpose is acceptance and it requires shedding all those wants. Letting go must be physical, tangible and conscious. Forgetting can happen almost haphazardly, but letting go is something you must decide to do. It happens when you intentionally tell others that you will no longer discuss The Event. It happens when you choose to switch your mind away from thoughts of The Event when they come. It happens when you remind yourself that you are still whole and amazing and capable in spite of the event. Letting go starts with you remembering that you can want something else. Whether you “give it to God,” do a burning ritual, or write your thoughts out and rip them to pieces, letting go carries the promise of freedom. Be as understanding and empathetic with yourself as you are with others. You deserve it. I deserve it. Let’s get free!