Archives for posts with tag: letting go

photo(247)The day after I was born, my father was nowhere to be found.

One can only imagine that my mother was rather annoyed when he showed up at her hospital bed sometime after supper. When she inquired as to where the hell he’d been, he told her that my name was now inscribed at the top of Mount Glasgow.

She shouldn’t have been surprised considering that for their first year anniversary he’d given her an ice axe.

Growing up, the room across the hall from my bedroom was a maze of climbing ropes, ski poles and bike tires.

I would say that the mountains were my father’s second home, but I think it would be more accurate to say that when it came to his love of the great outdoors, everything else came second.

As a kid, he did his best to instill the spirit of the wild within my sister and I. We spent our weekend under the stars, scrambling up rock faces and racing down ski hills.

I was always afraid I was going to tumble off the side of every cliff.

And if not that, it was almost inevitable that I’d be mauled to death by a cougar.

Needless to say, I did not inherit my dad’s adrenalin junkie genes.

I stopped going to the mountains when I realized I was never going to be the climber or the skier or the cyclist that he’d hoped I’d be.

And in that moment, I constructed imaginary boundaries of what I was capable of – and what kind of relationship we’d ever be able to have.

Of course, I didn’t realize all of this until earlier this week when I was clinging to the top of a 40 foot climbing wall and was told I had to “let go”.

As the woman on the ground below me instructed me to do so, I flashed back to all the times in my life I’ve been told to “chill out”, “take a breath”, “relax” and “let go”.

Not surprisingly, the most vivid images were of standing at the top of a bunny hill or sitting on my bicycle as a child, screaming and crying as my parents rolled their eyes and told me to just get down the bloody hill.

And in those moments, I never understood why they thought it was so amusing that I was petrified that letting go meant I was about to risk my life.

As the woman on the ground called up to me at the climbing wall, I realized that it’s been the holding on – not the letting go – that’s been slowly killing me since I was a little girl.

The holding on to all those stories, all that fear, all that shame that I wasn’t the daughter I should have been has had me stuck to the side of a cliff for years.

I didn’t mean to drag the little girl who never thought she was good enough, brave enough or strong enough into my adult life.

I just never knew how to let her go.

The other day, forty feet up a climbing wall, I fell backwards into a free fall, until the ropes caught me and brought me safely to the ground.

The other day, I let go.

All that terror I’d been holding on to wasn’t so scary after all. In fact the minute my feet were on the ground, I was itching to scramble back to the top again.

And as my arms ached and I calculated each stronghold on the makeshift wall, I dreamed about scaling mountains for real.

Maybe I am stronger and braver than I’ve given myself credit for.

Maybe I am my father’s daughter after all.

oct 2My mom used to call it her “high horse”.

She’d get on it when my sister and I had left our toys littered around the house or picked on each other to the point where she couldn’t take it anymore. She climbed up in the saddle that time we thought it would be hilarious to fill our cheeks with milk and then slap our palms to our faces to see how far the milk would go. Or when we had a rice fight in the dining room.

The problem was, my sister and I couldn’t help but think her high horse was rather comical. My mother is one of the most easy going, happy-go-lucky people I know. When we were young, seeing her get mad was so surprising it was laughable.

According to my mother, on one of these occasions when she’d hit the roof, I responded by putting my hands on my seven year old hips and saying “Mommy, mother’s are supposed to set a good example, and you’re not doing that right now.”

She responded by saying, “You know what Alexis? I don’t care”.

And then she proceeded to throw every single one of the toys on the playroom floor into a big black garbage bag which she threw in the garage and told us we could have back after we’d kept our room clean for a whole month.

A month later, the big black garbage bag filled with all of our most precious toys was gone.

She had accidentally mistaken it for the actual garbage – and off it went to the city dump.

My sister and I were distraught. We could barely look at our mother for weeks we were so angry.

They say there are crucial moments in each of our childhoods that determine how we see the world.

Well this was one of them.

I say that, because of all the ways in which my mother would let us down when we were teenagers, nothing compared to the moment when we realized that our toys were forever gone.

Bozo was gone. Blue Baby was gone. Balthazar the bunny, gone.

In that moment, as the three of us sat on our porch and cried – my sister and I because all our childhood memories had just been carted off in the back of a dump truck, and my mother because she felt so horrible about it all – it sunk in that nothing in life is certain or permanent.

Until then, we had just assumed that Blue Baby and Bozo were forever. We didn’t know that in the blink of an eye, everything we held onto might be gone.

I didn’t know it then, but the loss of those toys was my first glimpse at the impermanent nature of life.

A terrifying concept for a seven year old, and still, somewhat terrifying to consider now.

What if all that I love is gone tomorrow?

As we sat on the porch, I knew too, somewhere deep in my seven year old soul, that I was also learning something valuable about letting go.

This weekend, I am changing over my closet. In the process, I know that I need to rid myself of those clothes which no longer serve me anymore.

Whether it is because they are now too small or because I just don’t wear them anymore, I know our parting is inevitable. I have too much stuff that’s taking up to much room. I’ll be donating the items to worthy causes, but still, parting is such sweet sorrow.

So tonight, I thought about Blue Baby and Balthazar and all the other toys we lost along the way, and I remind myself that as I rid myself of my excess belongings, who I am, remains unchanged.

Life without my once beloved sweater will still continue to go on. Once it’s sitting on the shelf of a stranger’s home, nothing about me will change whether I have the option to wear it or not.

The day we lost those toys, nothing about my sister’s and my childhood changed at all. We might have decided it did, but that the things we make life mean when we are six and seven years old, aren’t necessarily the truth at all.

Balthazar and Bozo might be lost and gone – but our memories of the joy they brought us, continue to live on.

 

aug 29Sometimes the hardest thing to put down on paper is the truth.

Sometimes it’s easier to stuff it down so deep within you that you’d forget it’s there if not for the fact that it gnaws on your bones and pulls apart your heart.

Because when the truth is a beastly thing, it eats you up from the inside out.

The truth is,

I still miss her.

Her. The sexy and dangerous creature that was my lover.

Her. The viscous and vile beast that was my eating disorder.

I lost real love once. With a boy, not a disorder. It was a mutual decision. A choice we made to break each other’s hearts sooner, rather than the inevitable later.

I pretended to let it go gracefully. But it fucking hurt. For months and months I had to wear a life-preserver to bed for fear I’d drown in my tear-soaked pillow. And as much as I’d smile at all his post-us success and happiness, it felt like being punched in the throat.

Letting that kind of love go was easier.

I am not reminded of him every time I catch a glimpse of myself in a shop window or when I try to stuff myself into a pair of my old Wunder Unders.

When I broke up with him I stopped eating. I fell into the embrace of my first and steadfast lover, more deeply than I ever had before. The constant aching in my belly dulled the pain of losing something real.

In the declaration of my independence from my eating disorder, I’ve fallen for grilled cheese sandwiches and white wine.

I’ve devoured chocolate just to spite her. And I have held it all down because to do the other thing – the thing I’m not supposed to do anymore – would be to let her back into my arms again.

You know when you break up with someone how it becomes your mission to ensure that you are so much happier than the other person? How it becomes completely natural to fake your totally awesome life because you don’t want to give him or her the satisfaction of knowing that they just put your heart through a blender? Or how you know you should probably stop stalking their photos on Instagram but you can’t because the last thing you want to is to let them go?

I think that’s what I’ve been doing.

I’ve been hanging onto my eating disorder because secretly, I’ve been holding out hope that she’ll show up on my doorstep in the pouring rain and take me back up into her arms. I just haven’t wanted to let her go.

In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.

I saw this quote today and realized I’ve been neither gentle or graceful.

And as I ran along the water’s edge and through the sand tonight, I realized that the time has come to let her go.

 

 

jun 7“Pain will leave you, when you let go.” -Jeremy Aldana

The funny thing about babies is that they can scream bloody murder when they are in distress, but the minute their needs are met they immediately calm down. They don’t hold on to the memory of their uncomfortable hunger or remind you that you neglected to change their wet diaper in a brisk manner that one time. Babies just let it go.

If only we remembered this valuable lesson as we grew.

As my back ache became increasingly unbearable throughout the course of this morning, I determined it was high time I got over my fear of needles and booked an acupuncture appointment for the earliest I could be seen.

An hour later I was laying face down on a table with a dozen needles poking into my shoulders, neck, and spine.

To my surprise, the sensation of the needles wasn’t actually all that traumatizing. The practitioner placed them gently into the appropriate places and informed me she would be back in twenty minutes to remove them. She warned me that I would likely fall asleep as my body relaxed.

Clearly she underestimated my deep seeded desire for control, because falling asleep was about the last thing I wanted to do given my current state as a porcupine. So I didn’t fall asleep, but the second she left the room, I began to cry.

I didn’t mean to. In fact, I tried to swallow my tears at first for fear I’d soak the white towel in front of my face with black mascara. I was also a bit freaked out because I had no idea why I was crying. The acupuncture needles weren’t terribly painful, I didn’t have a wet diaper, and I wasn’t hungry at all. So why did I suddenly have the urge to bawl like a baby?

I managed to pull myself together by the time the acupuncturist walked back into the room. As she removed the needles and began to knead my shoulder blades with her hands, she asked if there was anything going on in my life that was causing stress.

I shook my head “No”.

“Your back is extremely tense. Do you have trouble letting go?”

I laughed out loud. She’d hit the needle on the head.

Unlike a screaming baby, I hold on to the memory of pain. Anger, fear, and shame attach themselves to my shoulder blades, my hips, my jaw, my temples. They linger in my body and become suffering.

As I lay on the table crying uncontrollably, it had dawned on me what I’ve been holding on to.

I have not wanted to give up control. As my body has changed, I have resisted it with fear, anger, and shame.

Fear of what I’ll become when I am not skin and bones anymore.

Angry that I no longer have the will to starve my body.

And an unspeakable shame that I still don’t know how to truly love myself.

The emotional manifests in the physical. My heart’s pain has become my body’s suffering.

As she finished up the procedure, she warned me that my back pain might not miraculously disappear. “You’ve allowed a great deal of tension to build up. In order for it to leave your body, you will have to allow yourself to relax and unwind. But don’t worry, once you do, your body will bounce back to health again.”

As I sit here writing these words, reminding myself to breathe out and breathe in as I ride the waves of pain, I am ready to surrender. I am ready to let go.