what the eff does it mean to “let it go”?

Dear Internet,

I woke up feeling particularly sassy this morning so be prepared for lots of salty language.


I’ve been musing about the concept of letting go as of late. But what frustrates me when I go searching for examples is the lack of real world examples. If you tell me X, what does X really look like? Yes, I get everyone’s path is different but what did you do, specifically, to achieve X? The response tends to be some mystical patchouli method, which are slightly helpful but in the end, kind of pointless.

Here is my explanation.


Hate your neighbor? Let it go. Terrible breakup? Let it go. Fighting with your friends? Let it go. Conflict with a colleague? Let it go.

And on, and on, like the repetition of the Disney song of the same name, does it go on for every painful act in your life, the kneejerk response is, let it go.

But what does this mean? How does one let it go? Out comes vague and jargon filled explanation with the zen conduit of non-attachment. The idea here is that if you remove yourself from something, be it a person or an object or situation that is causing you misery, you will gain better clarity and mindfulness into your own life. Viola, you’ve let it go.

But they always forget you to tell you the following is part of the process:

  • What they don’t tell you is while you’re busy simmering in the feelings of fear, pain, and regret, and letting them wash over you, is how fucking painful that process is
  • What they don’t tell you is it’s a long ass process; not something that goes away with a snap of one’s fingers
  • What they don’t tell you is while banging on how this only works when you make the conscious decision of what to or not accept, you’re going to go through a hundred permutations before finding the right combinations and you’re going to be in a lot of pain while you do it
  • What they don’t tell you is how you let go of something varies from person to person and situation to situation, it is not a one stop shop for everyone.
  • What they don’t tell you is that you’re going cycle through these emotions over and over again. One day you’re going to accept that the thing/person/whatever is done/gone and then you’re going to be wailing in grief another day. When the time between those days gets longer, then you are letting go
  • What they don’t tell you is you’ll be working on this, and yourself, for the rest of your life

I beg you once again: What does this look like in real life?


Most of the populace knows about the breakup between TheBassist and I. I was in a fuck ton of emotional pain and to be fair, it was not just about him but also everything about my life up to that moment finally tipped over when he cut the cord. Side step: I’ve said this a zillion times here and on various other places that I have much gratitude for the break up. Without it happening, my life would be a lot worse right now.

Back to the two step.

If you have been a steady reader since October, you have seen the anguish of the break-up. You’ve watched me writhe in pain because I had to write in pain. Moving on, or you know letting go, wasn’t going to happen unless I accepted what had happened was real and when you’re in emotional pain, you’re nowhere near the state of accepting it, hence the attachment.

It had to run its course.

It wasn’t just the online writing where I was writhing in pain, I writhed in real time, wailing and beating my fist against my chest calling mea culpa, mea culpa. Okay, not really — I chain smoked cigarettes, ate a lot of sweets, and cried obtusely on the couch while watching Pride and Prejudice over and over.

I also have a written diary I started right after the break that has 100 pages, at least, solely dedicated to him / us / break up / related. It’s insane, pitiful, and heartbreaking to read. I have only gone back to read it once and I probably won’t do it again. (The remaining 75 or so pages, which brings up to current, moves away from the break-up and more about what’s happening in my life.)

The grieving was everywhere and I, and only me, had to go down this path alone.

In the beginning I was brave and talked about I had already let him go.

But you know, and I know, that was some self-defense mechanism right there. By telling the world I was fine and everything was copacetic, I was moving on with life.

But I wasn’t. I knew I wasn’t but I was tired of people giving me a fixed timetable of when to stop the pain. “Well, it’s been three months, Lisa. Time to get the fuck on.”

In February I said,

Based upon friend’s reactions these last few months, it’s expected I should be discoing my way to someone else. As time marches on, this round of break up many feel I have already said all there is to say about him, the relationship, and the ending. What more could there possibly be? (A lot apparently.)

I spend most days without TheBassist’s presence hovering on the peripheral and then something benign reminds me he hasn’t been thought of and fuck, there he is!

God dammit.

Every couple of therapy sessions there is at least a brief mention of this occurring, how it pisses me off, and how my heart has ghosts of the devastation, which pisses me off even more.

There is no exorcism to dispatch a broken heart.

and

There is no arbitrary time when one person heals from emotional pain. There is no one fits all recipe. We’re assholes when we try to force the thought of, “Well. It’s been x months. Let them go and move the fuck on.” No one can really explain what “moving the fuck on” really entails or means no matter how much they want to. This is my interpretation of healing. This is how I work. This is what I do.

I’ve said it a million times before: If it takes me writing about it, talking with my shrink about it, or just plain thinking about to get to the point I can be freely undistracted (or triggered) by what happened, at my own pace, then that is totally okay. Fuck the haters.

(We are all changed, even a tiny bit, by the people important in our lives. To attempt to eradicate them emotionally and mentally is fucking impossible, unless you are a psychopath but that is not here nor there.)

These are some of the things I need to remember when the time comes to meet and accept someone or I will not have learned a fucking thing.

Friends always think they are trying to be helpful but to me, to you, in the end we want to punch them in the throat.


The letting go process started in December, when someone in his circle said unto thee,

TheBassist loves me and he always will, but I was a 24/7 flight risk. TheBassist broke down Borderline Personality Disorder and how I was sabotaging my life. He would never say never, but now? No.

It was in that moment when a switch flipped in my brain and everything changed. Something about the explanation of BPD TheBassist gave to the friend was that click. TheBassist knew, he’s always known.

When you end things with someone, doesn’t matter who does it, one of you wants to desperately talk to the other. About what? Doesn’t fucking matter; there is just this urgent need to talk. This is part of the attachment, if we don’t let go then it doesn’t end and if it doesn’t end, then there is hope. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a zillion types of pain because you still have something to hold on to.

So when the friend tells me the above, whatever burning need I had to talk to TheBassist dissipated. Poof. Just like that. This was the first hurdle that I sorely, desperately, needed to start letting him go.

The second hurdle came later which is the day I realised I was okay with the idea of dating again. I wasn’t holding myself to this impossible position of waiting until he came back, if he came back. If he did, great. If he didn’t, also great.  If not him, there would be others. I would seriously deep like again (I’m still doubtful of the whole “falling in love” business) and there would be  future lovers; a girl has needs. I had also accepted, without too much heartache, he is or will be dating again. In the end I just wanted him to be happy and if it wasn’t me, then I had to accept he would be happier with someone else.

All I have ever wanted was for him to be happy.

The third hurdle came when a few weeks ago my therapist noted TheBassist was no longer on my top five list of things to talk about. I was barely mentioning him other than an aside. “I found a present he gave me and I put it in his box”; that kind of thing. Most of my conversations these days were of the “Okay, this is what I want to fix” variety rather than some diatribe about TheBassist or related.

The fourth hurdle came a week or so ago when I came to the realization that other than the occasional mention in passing, he wasn’t dominating my thoughts or actions anymore. I was doing things for me and only for me.

The fifth hurdle, which has been ongoing, has been me not trying to put my hand back in the fire. I do not stalk his FB (or related) pages (truly); I do not read his Twitter; I do not read past emails or messages from him.  I’ve mentioned him on my public FB timeline once, a couple of week ago, as an example for a point I was making. I have told mutual friends I do not want to know if he’s dating. I am still friendly with all of his friends that FB BFF’d me in the beginning of it all, but he is never the topic or alluded to in conversation. Last week was the first time since October I asked a mutual friend how TheBassist was doing. Oh, I knew he was fine and kicking ass all over the place, but I wanted the confirmation, which I got. I asked if TheBassist asked about me and the answer, which I already knew, was “no.”

I wasn’t surprised and I wasn’t upset. I just accepted it at face value.

I do not put myself in positions where I feel I may get hurt or triggered. I have let it go.

There will be more hurdles, I’m sure, coming down my way but the hard parts are over. The next series will be smaller and easier. I have learned much and this will be the guide I need to continue moving on.


A couple of years ago, I wrote about a belief where I believe (truly) when treetops sway, the gods are talking to me. I always feel better, especially when I’ve been at Throbbing Cabin, sitting peacefully outside listening to the world around me and especially to the gods.

As time moved on, when TheBassist and I started getting more involved, I could always feel him around me when we were apart and when the treetops swayed. I would marvel, sitting on the front porch of Throbbing Manor, watching the sky streak from daylight to sunset, cigarette in my mouth, how close he felt to me, I could feel his arms around me. No matter where I was, if the treetops were swaying and we were apart, I could feel his physicality against me, his chest to my back, chin on my head, I would wrap my arms around myself and smile, knowing wherever he was, he was thinking of me and that he loved me.

When I told TheBassist this a few months into our relationship, and told him dates and times, he responded he was missing / thinking / loving me at those times. I don’t know if he humoured me because he liked this world I had created or if he truly believed it, but nevertheless, I always felt better to believe that it to be true.

But the crazier I got, the more I was out of control, the treetops stopped swaying and I could no longer feel him. Maybe I should I have listened to the gods all those months ago.

I was outside a week or so ago, walking Thursday as you do, when the wind picked up an the treetops swayed. I hadn’t thought about that otherworldly feeling of him around me in months at least since the break-up. But here we are, me standing in the middle of the grassy knoll, Thursday chasing the wind, and the treetops are swaying like mad. And here he was, around me, nothing said and everything understood. It may seem silly, or too woo-woo, or even you may believe JESUS FUCKING CHRIST, LISA you just broken down the method of letting go and you end with woo-woo and gods and treetops swaying. What in thee fuck?

I think that’s the biggest things these gurus and experts and the woo-woo purveyors also forget to tell us is: We carry our experiences with us, no matter what or who they are and no matter what has happened. We’re shaped and influenced by them, they are a part of us. To dismiss it is to dismiss respect of me or you and who I am or who you are. We’re not going to have the same experiences, or the same interpretation of the experiences, or the same outcomes — but that doesn’t make them any less valid! (That is what also pisses me off — a lot of these explanations are treated as one size fits all. NOT EVERYTHING WORKS FOR EVERYBODY.)

I do not read meaning into the treetop swaying woo-woo or the feeling of him around me, but it does give me comfort that no matter how wide the gulf of us may be, there will always another time and place where for a brief second, our worlds were together and they were perfect.

The regret I carry, and is of mine alone, is the wish I had been less crazy when we got together. Different decisions would be made and of course the outcomes would have not been the same. Even if we still broke it off under different reasons I would do it all over again.

But as we know, me most of all, this is not what happened and I cannot change the past no matter what kind of deals I make with the devil. This is where we are and tomorrow is going to be different but in these times in between, I am letting him go.

(And now I do some fucking yoga.)

xoxo,
Lisa

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2011

 

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