I’m struggling tonight to come up with a good metaphor that relates back to my mood this week and I must tell you, I’m not sure I’m going to come up with something good. But I’m going to try my damndest because you clicked the link and I feel like I need to inspire you to do something great.
I’ve been watching the trees lose their leaves this week and even though Dunkin has just launched All Things Pumpkin Spice season, I hate to break it to y’all. It. Isn’t. Fall. Nope – weathermen across the nation have been reporting that the trees are under a tremendous amount of stress and therefore, they are letting go of their leaves. So, there you have it, folks. Even the trees know that lessening the load is the best way to cope (survive?) a trauma. (You’re welcome. That’s my third ‘plant’ metaphor in a row.)
I think we can learn a lot from this. I could go on a big tangent about trauma responses and how our bodies trick us into doing stuff to keep from dealing with the trauma, but that would be so very uninspiring and frankly, that’s what I pay my therapist to hear – not let you guys read it for free. So, I’m going to do my best to bring this back around to how our lives are like the trees when we are under stress. And the best thing to do is ‘let go’.
We’ve all heard this, right? Disney made a fortune on the idea. But, I think I’d be remiss if I didn’t say: Letting go isn’t as easy as it seems. So, I suggest starting with something easy.
The easiest for me is purging shit I no longer need. I like to pretend I’m moving from time to time (if you know me, you know I’ve moved 18 times in 16 years, so it isn’t a stretch for me to get in the ‘I’m getting the heck out of here’ mindset.) I recently closed a non-profit I started and oversaw for almost four years. It was an emotional month for me, but I’ve got all the stuff ready to sell in my garage sale next week (Garage Sale = Tag sale for my one reader in Albany and the other one in the Berkshires). I decided that since I was going to bust my ass to sell crap anyway, I might as well purge some personal items. Honestly, some of them I cried over – and I am really not ‘one of those sentimental people’. But these things were so symbolic to me and I had carried them around with me for YEARS. It may be a bit ‘woo woo’ for some of you, but I’ve been called a hippie from time to time and I believe strongly in soul ties – so I needed to let them go. If I’m really going to move into being my best self, I can’t be hanging on to crap that holds such strong energy for me.
The next process of letting go wasn’t as simple or easy. In fact, at the risk of sounding dramatic, it was heartbreaking. I faced a cold fact that I needed to not be in a relationship at the moment. So many people from day one said I needed to not move from one bad relationship into another one and I didn’t listen. I know now that there’s a good reason for this and that is so you don’t carry any old baggage into the new relationship. That poor guy had been dodging those duffel bags full of unhealed issues. But to be fair, I won’t take all the blame. He carried in his own set of beat up luggage that I tripped over from time to time. I knew I’d risk losing a dear friend if I had this conversation, so believe me…it wasn’t made lightly. I honestly think that getting broken up with is terrible, but it can be equally as painful to break up with someone you love and care for – especially when the reason seems so selfish. My reason, as it turns out, is that I woke up one day and realized I had absolutely no fucking clue who I was anymore, and finding time to figure that out suddenly seemed so expedient in nature…as though time was running out. I don’t know how to explain it. I just know I had to do it. I had to be brave and face the fear of being alone. Let’s be honest though, I had been feeling alone for months, so it wasn’t much of a stretch. I hope my friend is still my friend and is just grieving in his own way and that way doesn’t include me now – or ever again, maybe. I miss him, but I understand. I wish I had been as brave as he has been with this when my ex-husband walked out on me. It might have made the healing process move at a faster pace.
Finally, I think I came to the hardest part of letting go when I realized that Springfield Missouri is a terrible place for me to live. It isn’t healthy for me and I absolutely hate it. This place carries memories of every heartbreak I ever encountered and all of those good riddance’s are dog-earred at the page : You simply weren’t good enough.
I left in 1989 to attend college in Kansas but had to return because of circumstances out of my control. I then escaped again to follow husband number 1 to New England. But things were kind of rocky when we moved and after four years, he decided he liked the snow more than he liked me so back ‘home’ I came. Again, I got the opportunity to get the hell out of Dodge in 2015 – only to return six months later – another marriage on the rocks and a very nasty and painful divorce to follow. This place represents every failure and every time I’ve had to come back to lick my wounds feeling like I was never going to get it right.
I’m ‘stuck here’ for now, but I am making plans to leave and as soon as I can, I will. Where to? I do not know. But I know I can’t drive through this town without a million memories mowing me over and sometimes a change of scenery is all you need to gain some traction. For example, I won’t drive north of Chestnut on Benton because I don’t like to drive by Shewmaker Hall. I won’t watch public television and I absolutely loathe big ‘see and be seen’ events. I won’t spend a dime at Incredible Pizza Company, and I cannot drive through the city of Ozark without feeling like I want to drive over to 12th Avenue and burn a house down. All these memories are clouded by experiences that created a tremendous amount of fear and insecurity in me and I simply want to leave them all behind.
So, as the trees start to drop their leaves as part of their natural response to trauma, I am purging and changing things in my life that remind me of traumatic events. Letting go of all the times when I didn’t quite measure up to someone else’s expectation; times when no matter how much of myself I hid and tampered down, I was still made to feel I was not enough. Times when I left myself behind so that other people could get all their needs met…and leave me anyway. They say that ‘running from your problems doesn’t fix them’ but I posit, and others do too, that sometimes it only takes a change of an address to make all the difference in the world. I am looking forward to that opportunity.
As I close, I’m reminded of a song by Dalton Domino. The lyrics are:
I’ve burned some bridges. Torn down some fences. Some I’m still mendin’. Some I’m leaving the ashes where they lie.
And I can’t think of a better metaphor for letting things go and not apologizing for the reasons why.
I get that this may not have been extremely inspiring today, but I promise you it’s a segue into what’s been happening since making these decisions. I like teasers and this one is a doozy….so wait until next week. It’s just starting to get good.