Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Art of Letting Go

I find social media a fascinating thing. Although most of it is filtered crap of what people want you to believe their life is really like, there are rare gems of true un-filtered honesty. No more do I find honesty in the words people speak, than as when they are angry, upset or disappointed. Even I find myself, sometimes, taking to the social network to vent my own frustration. Anger, frustration and disappointment are like a virus. They sit in your brain eating up all the good chemicals, until nothing is left but sadness.  Why is it so hard to let go? Why is letting go almost like art, something that takes talent, practice and an open mind to achieve?

Letting go, for me, has been the biggest part of my healing process, and a catalyst for the great changes I have made in my life.

When I was diagnosed with PCOS and I gained weight uncontrollably, lost my hair, learned I was infertile and became depressed - I was angry. I was angry for a really long time. But then something amazing happened. I let go. I had spent my whole life obsessed with how I looked and how much I weighed. I was miserable. I was skinny, gorgeous, talented, smart, had everything going for me in the world - and I was miserable. When I lost some of the things I perceived to be so important, at first, it was devastating. I hid from the world. I feared holidays or any time people from my "old life" would see me. It was as if I would burst into flames should anyone know how far I perceived I had fallen. But, time went on, and I did not burst into flames, I didn't die and I changed. I changed on the inside. I began to see the world from a different perspective. I saw beauty in things I didn't appreciate before. I realized that the things that truly mattered, were , as cliche as it sounds, not that of this physical world, but in that of the world inside of us. Now when I meet people, I don't judge them on their pant size, but on the size of their heart. I judge them by their actions. I judge them by what they contribute to this world. And nothing is sexier than a smart, kind, loving, funny, giving person. It wasn't until I let go of my old way of thinking about life and people, that I finally was able to change things I needed to change to get healthier.

When I was diagnosed with clinical depression, general anxiety and panic disorder, I was angry and I was scared. I was angry that I had to see doctors. Angry that I had to spend time in an out patient center. Angry that I had to go to meetings to deal with my drinking - a coping mechanism I developed to deal with my problems. Angry I hadn't gotten help earlier, I wondered if my life would have been happier if it had not taken so long to get the help I needed. I was angry that there were days I could not get out of bed. I was angry that it took two years and a dozen medications to finally find a combination that worked for me. Angry that I had to endure countless side effects as I searched for relief. But today, I have an understanding and an overwhelming empathy for those who also struggle with mental illness. I no longer see it as a stigma, as something to whisper about in secret. It is a part of who I am, and it is a part of a lot of people. People who are smart and gifted and creative and caring. And no matter how unfair I felt this blow was, I realized that there were and are so many people who have it far worse than I ever have or ever will. It opened my eyes to a side of the human condition that I never would have seen, had I not experienced it for myself. It changed me.

When I was diagnosed with interstitial cystitis, I was furious. What do you mean I have a chronic pain disease? What do you mean I can't eat or drink anything acidic? What do you mean I will have bouts of crippling pain for the rest of my life? But again, I didn't die, and I learned to change my life to deal with this disease.

Life is not determined by the things that are handed to us, life is determined BY THE WAY WE HANDLE the things that are handed to us. You have two choices. You can sit in misery, wondering "why me", as you let your life pass by. Or, you can "let go" of your anger, hurt and disappointment and learn to live your life on life's terms. And, in the midst of all this pain and ugliness, the most beautiful thing can happen - acceptance and forgiveness. The little things that used to make you so angry, just roll off your shoulders like beads of rain. You appreciate what you have more, and you find yourself a kinder wiser human being.

I see so much hope and beauty in my future, no matter what else life deals me. I am stronger and I am happier than I have ever been in my life. The next time something happens, whether it be a mean co-worker, a flat tire, a stolen cell phone - remember that these things are only small pittance in comparison to what life could deal you. It may at first be hard to accept, forgive and let go, but it is worth the sacrifice. You will come to know a new level of happiness and you will find that life is wide open with possibilities.

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