Advice on Letting Go
Letting go has never been my strong suit. From my childhood, I’ve been a collector: rocks, feathers, glass bottles, sea shells, trolls. I still have many of these collections in various old cigar boxes and zip lock bags around the house. In many cases, I can’t remember where I discovered these treasures. At the time, I thought they would be indelibly burned into my memory. But now, one sparkly rock tends to look very much like the next. Still beautiful. But too bad I never thought to label them with their origin.
There is copious advice on how to let go of negative things: stress, past relationships, anger, toxic behavior. But I’ve found little help in letting go of things I don’t want to. One of my favorite poems is Max Ehrmann’s Desiderata. He says to “Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrending the things of youth.” I’ve tried to heed his words. Gone are the high heeled stiletto shoes (my back can’t take them any more), eating anything and everything filled with sugar, and the sky blue eyeshadow of my pre-teen days (thank goodness). But I still try to keep my youthful sense of fun. Our entire family recently had an all-out battle with Nerf guns. It was a blast — literally and figuratively.
The thing I find most challenging is letting go of people. Last week, we spent Spring Break driving hundreds of miles to visit colleges for our son. As each school got farther and farther from our home, I began to feel a squeezing of my heart, secretly hoping that he might not choose the college farthest away. But of course, that was one of his favorites. My husband reminds me that this is how it’s supposed to be. We raise our children to become independent adults, and letting them go is part of the process. I know he’s right, but I haven’t figured out how to do it yet. I’m open to all suggestions. But I’m still a Mom, and my children will always be my babies.
At the end of that week, I also learned that someone dear to me was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. This is letting go of a completely different sort. The news wasn’t totally unexpected, but it sets us on a specific path of action which includes learning as much as we can about the disease and how to make her life happy and comfortable for as long as possible. For her, the letting go is involuntary. Over time, she will be letting go of memories she has taken a lifetime to collect. And we will be slowly letting go of the woman we knew.
So instead of offering help in this post, I’m asking for it. Please post a comment on how you or others have learned to let go of things or people you love.