So yeah, I suck at “letting things go.” Phrases like “Let Go and Let God” make me want to “let go” of the person who says things like that over a giant cliff. But since murder is still frowned upon in our society, I am forced to find other, “healthier” ways of dealing with people who frustrate me with their cliched solutions to serious problems.
Someone I love dearly recently told me that one of my problems in a particular relationship is that I need to let go of the past frustrations I’ve felt at this person’s hand. I said to my friend, “You have no idea how much I’d love to ‘just let go’ of my hurt, but here’s the problem: for some remarkably unclear reason, my brain remembers nearly every negative thing that happens to me. Trust me, there’s NOTHING I’d love more than to rewire my brain so it could ‘just let go.’
Here’s a silly example that illustrates my point: The other day I had lunch with a rather forgetful friend…you know, the kind who forgets his wallet 2 out of 3 times you get together and always promises to pay you back next time, forgetting that he promised the same thing last time. So, upon his announcement that, you guessed it, he had forgotten his wallet and would “get me next time,” I smiled to hide my gritted teeth and told myself to just suck it up and “let it go.”
But I literally can’t. It’s not that I’m angry about it; I got past that quickly. It’s not that I need the $8 he owes me; thankfully I can manage the financial hit. It’s not really anything begrudging or malicious at all. In the sense of letting this issue bother me, I have indeed let it go. But I also know myself well enough to know that the next time we go to lunch, I’ll be anxiously wondering if he will remember that it’s his turn to buy, asking myself incessantly if it’s better to just remind him so I can quit thinking about it or, instead, to keep my mouth shut despite my brain’s constant reminder that “THIS MAN OWES YOU LUNCH, TIM!” Either way, I feel like a schmuck, quite honestly.
And that’s just $8.
When it’s unresolved pain from many years of a rocky relationship, it’s downright ugly inside my head. I’ve lost track of how many therapists I’ve seen while trying to “let go” of things I need to move on from. If writing unsent letters to the person were going to help me, the 300 I’ve written in therapists office would have done the trick by now. Maybe I should move on to hypnosis or LSD, but I really have come to believe that part of this whole mental illness thing is that I have a brain that hyper-focuses on all things negative. Whether I’m obsessing about them or depressed because of them or anxious that one of the negative things I haven’t experienced will undoubtedly happen to me…my brain can’t and won’t let go. What to do?
Not that I’m expecting it to be a cure-all, but I plan to start sessions soon with a new therapist who focuses on mindfulness – the idea that we should quit judging our internal experiences and let them be there, even if they are unpleasant. It’s the opposite of trying to let go, I guess. Perhaps this method will help me gain some peace of mind, but only time will tell.
For now, I’m stuck with the things I can’t seem to let go of any more than I can let go of my kneecaps. Speaking of kneecaps, perhaps I could get away with a tire iron to the kneecaps of the next person who tells me to let go of something (since I can’t do the drop-them-off-a-cliff thing).