So I’m learning that, despite my best efforts, I have absolutely not mastered the art of ‘letting it be’. Doh. I have always viewed myself as patient, fairly level-headed, and tolerant of people and things. It turns out that’s only really applicable to people who aren’t me, and things that aren’t my shit or in some way related to it.
I also like to tell myself that I’m not a control freak; I don’t like making decisions, I don’t like being in charge, I don’t like telling people what to do, or asking people for anything. Ever. Yet, there are parts of myself and my being that I cling to so hard that you couldn’t prize me away from them with a crowbar. Even when I am an absolute disaster and have destroyed any semblance of progress or success like a tornado tearing through a small town, I still find it almost impossible to relinquish the control and hand myself over to people, or even the universe.
I know where this comes from and it makes sense. When you’ve been in situations beyond your control and you didn’t think you would actually survive, it can be hard to learn how to surrender some of your grip. However, it is also increasingly obvious that said grip is much of the reason I find myself stuck firmly at a crossroad on this tumultuous path called ‘healing’. And it can be really fucking detrimental to that journey, especially when things are hard. The walls go up, the claws come out and I hold my ground, refusing to do anything that falls close to the edges of my comfort zone. Because the unknown is terrifying and I need control.
I think the main reason I find it hard to let go is because I hadn’t planned for this. In the midst of the shit-storm I didn’t know, or even think, that I would ever get out. I didn’t think there would come a time where I’d be exploring the colourful possibilities of survival and healing. I didn’t think I’d be free to make decisions and have any control over anything that happened to me. I didn’t think I’d have a future. There were times where I never, ever, thought I’d see my 30s, so I never thought about the future and what it would entail. And now, here I am sitting in the aftermath of some less-than-perfect years and everything is quiet and still on the outside. There is no danger. There is no pain. There is joy and freedom and success and connection and opportunity. And yet I’m waiting with white knuckles for the next disaster to swoop in.
Nobody is safe.
Something bad will happen, just wait.
This is the calm before the storm.
What gives you the right to let go and be happy and free? Who do you think you are?
Why would you ever think about letting someone help you?
People ruin everything.
Don’t let your guard down, it’ll only end badly.
Stay. In. Control.
I guess these are some of the many daily things I hear myself saying inside my head. The fear is still extremely real, yet I’m constantly reminded that it’s also no longer warranted. I know that’s true, but in the moment, I cannot be convinced. And the ‘control’ that I convince myself I am in possession of, is more than likely an illusion. Therapy is a bitch. Talking will never feel safe for me and silence is my absolute go-to mechanism to keep people out and to keep myself safe. I want to get help, I want to engage and process with others who know how to support me, yet there’s a truly terrified, huge part of me that will not let go, no matter what.
Staying quiet = staying safe.
That’s great, except recently, staying safe looks a lot like laying on the floor either dissociating, crying or remembering the bad shit, and refusing to do anything logical about it. I know that I don’t want to be like that, and I want to move on and get rid of this part of myself. I sometimes reach out, but not in a way that is helpful for me or anyone else involved. I convince myself that I’m being proactive, and in some ways I am; I know that asking for help just isn’t in my nature, neither is talking or letting people see me fall, so sometimes just saying to someone, “Hey, I’m not doing well”, is actually a giant leap of faith for me. But, I don’t talk about what’s happening in a way that opens up a dialog or leads to a rational plan of attack. Instead, I say the bare minimum, trying to verbalize the inner emotions and feelings but usually very unsuccessfully. I go round and round in circles of panic and memories and surrender and denial and hostility and rigidity and fear and hopelessness and stoicism and frustration. I cry and then get mad that I’m crying and try to physically push tears back into my eyes. And I refuse to try to do 99% of the things that are suggested to me because they all point to the one thing I can’t do: give up the goddamn control.
Someone asked me what it would look like if I just let it be; if I just lay there in the sadness and accepted that it hurts, that I’m stuck and that it’s just really fucking hard. No fighting, no “should”s, “could”s, “if”s, “but”s or “maybe”s, just lay there in the shit and let it wash over me. In honesty, I had absolutely no idea what it would look like until last night. It sounded like the worst idea and I always believed that if I let go completely I would die, or that whatever happened would never end. But last night I was so tired and pent up but too overwhelmed to take it out on myself. So I took a deep breath, and on the exhale I lowered the wall just enough for things to start pouring over the top. I was shaking and remembering things I didn’t want to remember. I was feeling things that are so bad, but I just tried to stay there and let it happen as best I could. I wanted and tried so badly to make it stop but it continued to pour. There was a LOT of resistance and fighting and panic, but it was already happening. I was in it.
I let it happen slowly, in stages and over several hours. It ended up turning into a very intense, but very bizarre combination of quiet and turmoil. It was messy. I became a living dichotomy of chaos and calm all embodied by this broken shell. I lay there sobbing and hurting and wanting to scream, but at the same time trying to surrender my need to control and suppress. I can’t even explain it. It felt so horrendously raw and freeing and out of control and terrifying and painful and yet at the same time something deep inside felt so much relief. My body felt like it was on fire, but eventually it dissipated and I ended up going numb and dissociating. I lay there just breathing.
Today I feel like I have the flu. Yay. I’m hot and cold and my head is pounding so loudly that I can hear it and can see my vision jumping with every heartbeat. I know that this is just the hangover effect. I truly feel like shit, but I can also say that I think this was a small step down a path that I’ve never even entertained walking down before, and that feels like progress at this point. I think it will take a few days to fully process and feel my way around what happened, and I don’t want to just focus on how shitty it felt and how awful the aftermath is because that isn’t helpful to anyone. It was hard, I imagine crying and letting go is hard for everyone, and that’s okay. Instead, for now, I will just try to be satisfied with the fact that I loosened my grip enough to just accept that everything feels hard and that this journey is painful, that I didn’t hurt myself in the process, and I lived to tell the tale.
Simply put, I let it be (and in turn probably increased by badassery score by, like, 1.56%).