“One of the most courageous decisions you’ll ever make is to finally let go of what is hurting your heart and soul.” –Brigitte Nicole
When I was fourteen, I found my dad dead in our backyard. He took his own life. I was there first to see the aftermath. I saw his lifeless, limp body. I answered the door when the police arrived and watched them go through our things. I showed them around so they could determine how it happened. I saw everything my dad used and the process he went through to end his pain. I walked the paramedics to my dad’s body, watched them put the blanket over him and pronounce him dead. I saw, smelled and heard it all. And I felt it – the stares, the whispers, the sorrow, the shock – it was definitely not something that served me in the moment.
We all experience things differently.
There are certain moments in our lives that we can’t erase. Some of these moments teach us, some of them deeply wound us and some of them we hold on to with strong attachment even if they don’t serve us. But, no matter what, we get to decide what to let in and what to let go.
My dad’s death certainly gave me a very early glimpse at how precious and short life really is. And even when certain things are thrown our way that we can’t control, we can decide what part of the experience we want to let in and what is necessary to let go of that does not serve us. We all know in our hearts what feels right and what does not. We know what makes us feel good and what depletes us. We feel the things that give us energy and notice the moments that break us down. We know. When something no longer makes us feel right, we can let that go, without apology.
Recognizing the things that don’t serve you.
The day my dad died it felt like a bomb exploded and I saw all the broken pieces of my life in front of me. Because I was so desperate to make things comfortable for myself and attach to the life that I used to have, I spent years trying to put the pieces perfectly back together again. I convinced myself I would make them fit, even if it didn’t serve me.
Everyone told me to be strong – be strong for your family. Why couldn’t I just lay in bed and cry? I felt obligated to do what everyone was telling me. I ignored what I needed. How was this serving me? And how could I have possibly known what I needed to heal my heart at that time?
Holding on to things that don’t serve us.
Because I was so young, my brain couldn’t possibly process what I had seen, felt or experienced. I knew that I didn’t want to go through that kind of loss again, so I slowly started to build a thick, protective wall around my heart. A layer that did not serve me. I let others in, but only to a place where it couldn’t hurt me.
Trusting someone with my pain was not an option for me – it felt too raw and tender. I feared that if I deeply opened up my heart again, it was going to be shattered. The thought of that was too overwhelming and I was so attached to this idea of needing to be strong for everyone I couldn’t let any other ideas in. I was attaching to something that was not serving me. I was so fragile on the inside. Whenever I sensed someone getting too close to that frightened and traumatized little teenage girl inside me, it was much easier to run toward things that didn’t serve me because that is what felt comfortable and safe. I desperately wanted to let go of this idea of needing to be strong but I was too ashamed to let anyone down.
It’s okay to let things go.
It’s been a long process, but I have learned that trying to be the strong one all the time is not benefiting me anymore. When I practice softening toward my own heart, I can make room for things that do serve and nourish me. I can let in more forgiveness, more acceptance, more love and more trust. I can open my heart and share my fear without the worry of letting anyone down. I can walk away, without apology, from the things that don’t serve me. I can react the way I need to and let go of the opinions of others.
I’ve spent too many years guarding my heart and it doesn’t serve me anymore. I’m slowly shedding the layers and falling in love with the freedom it’s bringing me. I can finally breathe and let go.