We can't let go of something if we have a strangle hold on it in the first place. Whether you realize it or not, you are holding on to everything you never deal with. Just because you have buried it so far down into the depths of your soul, that doesn't mean it won't ever come back up. It just means that you really good at burying things.
Just because you refuse to see something, doesn't mean that it isn't there. Just because you refuse to think about something, doesn't mean it no longer requires thought. Just because you refuse to deal with something, doesn't make it disappear.
Just because you convince yourself that you are ok, doesn't mean you actually are.
Growing up as the daughter of a severely bipolar mother I began to understand the importance of stark in-your-face reality. My mother lived in a world of "created reality", meaning she created what she wanted. She saw what she wanted. She heard what she wanted. She remembered as she wanted. She would make one question everything they held to be true, because she was so convincing and believable. As a teenager I seriously thought more often than not that I was losing my mind. I would remember something one way and she would remember it happening in a completely different way. She would fight you to until you either started second guessing yourself or just gave in.
She also was the queen of denial. If she did not want to see something, deal with something or make a decision - she simply didn't. Rest of the world be damned.
As I grew up I started to understand more of the importance of facing reality head on. Never allowing it to blur. Never turning my back on it and hoping it would go away. Good, bad or indifferent, I needed to see it for what it was. Believe in it, deal with it and then make peace with it and move on. I had to grow to trust myself and my perceptions. Which growing up the way I did is often easier said than done. I began to figure out that if something needed facing - then I needed to face it. If something needed to be dealt with - then I needed to deal with it. If a decision needed to be made, regardless of how hard it was - then I needed to make it. Right then and there. It may take me months to work through something, but I had to actively face it. Not pretend it was there, hadn't happened or would get better if I just act like nothing had happened. I had to deal with and then let it go.
One of my best friends suffered a tremendous loss last year. She really had no idea how to handle it what had happened. So she didn't. She packed up, moved on and refused to talk about it. If you were to ask her how she was doing, she would reply just fine and then change the subject. Her sleep became erratic. She began having nightmares. She would either lose her appetite completely or binge-eat for hours. She would drink herself into a stupor every night and always her reply would be the same - I'm fine. Except she wasn't. Not even close. But because she refused to face the reality that she was hurting and to do something about it, she continued to spiral down.
One day recently she, without thinking, stopped at a coffee shop she used to visit regularly with the person she lost. She hadn't been back there since he died and it was the mundane act of ordering coffee that broke through to her. She sat in her car as reality crashed all around her. Crying, she faced the fact she wasn't fine. That she had simply buried her pain and had done herself more harm than she would have, had she faced it to begin with. She has begun the road to healing now and is taking her life back.
Another friend of mine has a husband who is an alcoholic. Everyone sees it. Most have had to experience his drunken behavior at one time or another. Friends have stopped visiting their house. They do not get invited out to parties or dinner any more. His fits of rage and theatrics known to all by now, and while they love and adore her, they just can't take him anymore. When he is not drinking he is an amazingly funny and generous guy, but that guy doesn't show up much. A few of her close friends have tried to sit her down to talk about it. She just makes excuses for him and changes the subject. She refuses to see that there is a problem and regardless of how much love and support we can give her, we can't force her to see something she doesn't want to.
Just because you ignore something does in fact not make it go away. It means that this something is sitting there, waiting to jump out and catch you unaware. You may be travelling along the road of your life, all happy and at peace (or so you convince yourself) when out-of-the-blue you see something, read something or hear something, that triggers a cascade of memories and emotions you should have dealt with long ago. It literally can drive you to your knees and feel like your heart is breaking all over again. Thing of it is, your heart never healed in the first place. Not if you did not face what happened. If you never dealt with the past, refuse to see the current situation or handled a life event head-on, your heart is still in pieces. Because in order to be whole once more, you have to come to terms with whatever it is that happened or that is happening now. Otherwise you have just put a band-aid on your heart and your soul in hopes that it holds.
The truth of it is - it may hold, for awhile... but it won't hold forever.
Recently an older lady reached out to me concerning a passage in my book. The piece I had written had apparently gone straight through every level of defense she had created over the past thirty something years and hit straight to the core of a childhood she never made peace with. We talked at length about the struggles that life can bring to us, and about not dealing with things that had happened. We talked about how not coming to some sort of real peace with it once and for all, it can color everything we do going forward. We don't trust others and we don't trust ourselves. We develop addictions, or coping mechanisms that do nothing to actually make it better.
We can't let go of something if we have a strangle hold on it in the first place. Whether you realize it or not, you are holding on to everything you never deal with. Just because you have buried it so far down into the depths of your soul, that doesn't mean it won't ever come back up. It just means that you really good at burying things. Believe me, you may not consciously realize the affect everything you haven’t dealt with, made peace with or see for what it really is, has on your life, but step back for a moment and take a hard look at yourself. The walls you have built up, the stories you tell yourself, the things you avoid so that you don’t trigger painful memories. Look at what triggers your anger, your hurt and your sadness. Do you see a pattern here?
The brilliant thing is when you make the decision to bring all the bad and all the dark into the light so that you can deal with once and for all - You are in total control. Remind yourself that it is over, it can’t hurt you anymore. Find a way to confront things head on once and for all. It only has power to hurt you if you allow it to continue to be buried.
You are strong enough to face it.
Trust in yourself to see your way through. I won’t promise you it will be easy. I will promise you that it will be worth it.
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