Thursday, July 14, 2011
It's such a familiar phrase. It's something that I've been attempting to do for as long as I can remember. It even inspired my word of the year (release). And until recently, it was something that I completely misunderstood.
I like to hold onto things. My pack-rat-ish tendencies include pictures, stamps, movie tickets, bulletins, programs...the list goes on and on. I hold onto them so that I can remember all of the good times. I'm terrified of forgetting, as if losing a memory means losing a part of me.
But there are certain memories that I try desperately to get rid of, attempting to scrub them away like I do a stain on a favorite shirt, or to bury them like a secret treasure, one I hope no one will ever find.
These memories, however, manage to crop up unexpectedly, no matter how hard I try to ignore them. And in some cases, the bad memories are linked inextricably to good ones, so in order to forget the bad I must also forget the good.
I thought that letting go meant forgetting. I thought that if I denied those parts of the past that I didn't wish to remember that they would lose their grip on me, would cease to be associated with me. But I was wrong. I'm starting to realize that they are never going to go away. But I am who I am today because of the things that happened and the choices I made, both good and bad. It may seem counter-intuitive, but claiming them as part of my story is actually what will release me from their grip. If I name them and acknowledge their presence, they will no longer have power over me, because they will be a part of me.
No one is all-good or all-bad. Everyone has things in their past that they would like to do over. But unless we know The Doctor, that is not an option for us. Besides, to quote an old Mac McAnally song, "If our plans had turned out like we wanted, would they be what we want right now?"
I've had some pretty amazing adventures in my life. If I erased part of my past, I wouldn't have gotten to do as many wonderful things or gotten to know people who are so dear to me now. I wouldn't be me.
This new realization doesn't mean that everything will magically get better. Letting go is still going to be difficult. Only now it actually seems possible.