If you’re a parent, you’re familiar with that closing line from the Frozen soundtrack hit “Let it Go”. For those of you who don’t have children, and haven’t heard the song…I envy you. You are on terra firma. The rest of us are plunged into an icy abyss of relentless repeats of that song being played by our wee ones. Or at least I am. My two boys listen to that soundtrack ad nauseum. I have practically memorized the songs and lyrics through osmosis. I have absorbed the Disney-ness of those tunes and I am not sure where I sit with that. I have mentioned my helplessness to others, and they have been cheeky in reminding me to just “let it go”. Hardy har har.
But they are on to something. I really did have to let it go. I had to surrender to the fact that the boys love the music, and it’s harmless and to them, it’s also the soundtrack to their young lives at this moment in time. So why take that away from them? But the idea of letting go goes beyond a simple soundtrack. For this alcoholic, letting go takes on a greater meaning. My entire life process now revolved around letting things go. From the minuscule annoyance to the gargantuan resentment, letting go is my ticket to serenity.
Whole books have been written about letting go, and many spiritual teaching discuss this as well. I am not an expert on it, but merely a mortal trying to navigate through that which no longer serves him. And that is simply the way I look at letting go. I release myself from the things that no longer add to my life or serve it. The problem with that simplistic way of looking at it is that the ego doesn’t like to let things go. As Eckhart Tolle and others would describe, the ego holds onto problems as a way of creating an identity. Ego has no identity of its own, so it attaches itself to thoughts and forms that gives it identity. Left to its own devices, ego dies into non-existence. It’s when I allow it to leach onto thoughts, like a remora to a shark, that it starts to gain strength and leads me astray.
When I clutch onto things that don’t serve me, consciously or unconsciously, I am either causing more pain or discomfort in my life, or I am limiting myself. Or both. I am also taking energy away from the things that I could be doing. When I feel in tune with what my heart or spirit tells me, I feel serenity. Even if it’s tough at first, or there is fear. When I am out of joint with where I am supposed to be, I feel it. I know when I am not in tune when I get that knotted feeling in my gut. When I hear that tiny voice of reason / conscious contact telling me that I shouldn’t be doing X, Y or Z. I know I am swimming upstream when things seem to be an unnecessary struggle.
When I was drinking, or even when I wasn’t drinking but not well, I would run my life counter-current to how it should have been. I strongly identified with whatever it was my ego was telling me. I was negative, foul-mouthed, irresponsible, inappropriate, reckless, etc…self-will run riot, if you will. I always had that wee voice telling me different, but I shut it down with alcohol and just plain defiance. In my heart I knew what I was doing wasn’t how I was to be, but I ignored it. Ego drove the bus and to hell with the consequences. I was in the cold. The warmth of the sunlight of the spirit was yet to cast itself upon me. I would justify and rationalize my behaviours and thoughts. I isolated. I drank. I vowed, like the song says, that the cold never bothered me anyway…I was alone in my frozen icy castle, cut off from everyone. And that is how my illness liked it. Felt like home, in my icy castle.
Surrendering to my illness and my powerlessness over it was the first great Letting Go that I did. I had no choice. I was dying a slow death. Everything in me wanted to preserve the status quo, even if it was going to kill me. But I did. And as I have continued on this journey, I have seen that my life is now a matter of letting go. Big and small. I know I have let go when I feel my breathing is easier. When that tightness in my chest dissipates. When I feel closer to Creator and to others around me. When I feel more centered in my self, rather than in my ego.
I have had to let go of many things in my recovery and life so far – relationships, friendships, certain activities, thought patterns, emotional baggage, etc. Ego continues to be my nemesis, and the things that come with it – negative thoughts, self-centered fears, selfish acts, etc. But I have learned to recognize when I am being untrue to my true nature and at least that gives me a fighting chance. Seeking counsel with others also lets me see things I don’t see. Forgiveness is also a great way of letting go (and a topic on its own).
What I also know is that something that I thought I let go of, can easily return if I an not vigilant and staying in the actions that brought me there in the first place. Hanging onto certain things gives me a sense of comfort, and ego likes that. Even when they cause me grief in ways. Even when I see that its causing some harm. And that’s the tough part. The underlying thought is “well, if I let that go, what will become of me?”. Hmmm…maybe getting better? Maybe Creator fills that void with something else. Always does. So why am I still fearful of letting go sometimes? Comfort…again. Complacency. Laziness. Fear. Transformation comes only with shedding the old skin. But I will sometimes hold on even when that skin it’s tight and constricting. And it’s in that discomfort that I know it is the right thing to do.
I have a long list of things I have released. I also have a long list of things I still grasp onto. I know that I will get there. Through daily surrender and walking through fear, I know that I can alleviate those which anchor me to suffering. It’s a process, and a slow one for me, but I am learning to do it. And often it shows itself by the simple way of me just waking up and deciding that I am going to stop X, Y or Z or I am going to do X, Y or Z. Just like that. That is how I started up with running – that day I let go of the narrowing idea that I wasn’t a runner and never would be. I recently woke up one day and realized that I no longer wanted meat/fish/chicken in my diet. I woke up not too long ago and decided that I would stop trying to dictate what I think my recovery should look like and stop comparing. Staying awake to Creator is most important in my growth.
I have woken up to a lot of things and hope to do so looking forward. I am no longer satisfied to live in the cold of my ego, the chill of my ignorance. I am happiest when I am basking in the warmth of Creator and His will for me, no longer frozen in my head and will. It sounds airy fairy saying all that, but it works for me. And learning to embrace a design for living rather than struggling…I will taken that any day.
What have you let go of recently?