Letting go

This is going to be long.

I agonized for the last 24-hours (plus) about whether to make this more than one post. I also could not decided on a title… so the others I was thinking about will become different posts in future (now that I wrote them all down and finally settled on “letting go” for this one).

So, here goes (and you may want to grab a coffee, tea, your favorite tipple… and a tissue if you’re that way inclined—I personally used several while I was writing it).

Many of my friends will note that I often “preach” about “being present” and “accepting what is.” Well, on Friday night I went to a concert with a friend. And what did I do? I spent most of the night on my phone, on Facebook and writing this post.

Today, I am realizing that sometimes even I struggle to follow my own advice. In some ways, retreating into my thoughts and into my head is a defense mechanism; and because I’m introverted, I often like to be inside my own head (my world) because I’ve spent a long time making it a pleasant place to be.

Being so focused on the inner workings of my own Self may make it seem like a lot of my posts are self indulgent and egocentric. For this—and if it’s taken as such—I have no control. Please know that what I write and say is from my heart, and not just what’s going on inside my head. To me, it’s also a little bit funny (quirky?).

Want to know a little secret about me? All those things I post on Facebook? They’re not there for you… they are on there for me.

They’re what I want to say to myself to remind my Self that I am enough and that I’m worth it. While I may call attention to things like presence, acceptance, love, kindness, compassion, etc… the truth is: I’m only posting this to remind myself of what and how I need to be, mostly.

As I mentioned on Facebook in one of my recent posts, I’ve always wanted to write, but could never really think of much to put on paper. Mostly because I have always found myself—and my life—incredibly boring. Then my wife died and I had to start expressing how I feel in some way. And so I chose to use Facebook as my outlet. For those who are my friends and have waded through all those things I put out on Facebook, etc. (all the posts, memes, etc.), well those are not meant to validate me as a person.

Being the way I am (inside my own head, overthinking, self absorbed) sometimes makes me unthinking, unfeeling and insensitive about how others might perceive what I’m saying/writing, etc. It’s not narcissistic, just my way of giving my Self some love and attention. Some of the things I say and share on Facebook are truly meant for me only (so I probably am better off not sharing anything, really!). Judgments aside, nothing I put on my page or in these blog posts is actually designed to solicit validation, make anyone feel sorry for me, or for others to comment. Nor is it meant to connect with anyone or anything other than my own Self.

I do this because Suzi used to make me feel all those things and I miss having her as my sounding board. My partner. My friend. She would validate and feel sorry for me in her own way, anyway. Then she died and I lost the connection and the ability to hear things from anyone other than my Self. And now, I still want to hear those things, but I am more content to hear them from me, for me. So I post away. I write away. I indulge myself and ask you to be complicit in my self indulgence. But with that comes an implied request for grace and understanding.

So, at one stage, I actually decided to start sharing things because I decided to say them to my Self. And then I started to write and say things to and for my Self that I wanted (and needed) to hear. When I wrote above that I could never think of anything to put or paper; well, since Suzi died I haven’t been able to shut up. And that may come across as self indulgent and selfish. But it’s not. It’s cathartic and it helps me cope. As many have seen my posts and memes, I’ve decided writing about feelings is going to be the way I fill this great big gaping hole in my heart and in my mind through words. I do this for my Self and ask you to come along for the ride (if you’ve read this far, then I guess you’re still interested).

I’m also realizing that I’m guilty of being a “bad parent” to my Self because I have lapsed into that old “do as I say, not as I do” mentality (occasionally). I recognize that I’m still a mere mortal and I will continue to make mistakes. We all do. The thing is, I question whether I’m learning from them or repeating them… isn’t that what it’s truly all about, though?

So finally I am getting to the real point of this post… and the main reason I say all this is because I was not “present” for most of the concert Friday night. I was inside my own world. Yes, I listened to the music. But no, I wasn’t listening to my own words of wisdom that I have shared time and again since Suzi died: Friday night, I was NOT living in the moment. I was on my phone. I was on Facebook. And I was ignoring the friends I was with. I was a bad friend. I was a bad concert goer. I was not doing what I set out to do.

Recognizing this fault is a first step to recovery from the lapse… you see, being widowed somehow entitles me not to a free pass, but to be somewhat self indulgent about being present, living in each moment and adopting a Carpe Diem attitude. So I have had to decide to let go of the negative thoughts I had about not being present, about being a “bad parent” to my Self, about not showing up for my self.

Recently, there have been a few occasions where I wanted to talk about my experience with an emphasis on how I was angry. There were times I’ve walked past couples and one or the other was on a cell phone (completely ignoring the person walking right next to him). In two cases I vividly remember, I saw the look on the partner’s face and I was so tempted to go and grab the phone and chuck it a mile, shouting “what are you doing, you idiot? You’re out here on a walk with your partner and you’re on your goddamn phone! Be Present!!”

But I restrained myself.

There have also been times where I remember watching self destructive people carry on living (the guy smoking outside the front door of the hospital as my wife lay dying, for example) as I questioned God, the universe and just about every deity I could name about it. I can’t and don’t think I want to understand why that person was still living and breathing the same air as me (way past his or her expiration date), but my beautiful, youthful, compassionate, caring, loving wife (and mother of my daughters) was cut down by cancer.

And then I think, “who am I to judge?” What makes it right or wrong? Is there such a thing? Whose “judgement” am I living? Truth is, we don’t know the universe’s plans. None of us. So again, I’m telling myself, “be present, enjoy the moment.” Tomorrow the earth may hiccup and wipe out half the global population. We must truly start to live and love like there is no tomorrow. Because if you think about it for more than half a second, you’ll realize there isn’t. Nothing is given and nothing is granted. So, let go of expectation. Let go of worry and fear. Let go of inhibitions that are stopping you from doing great things. Let go of what you think you can control and everything you can’t…

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Finally, I am reminded of why letting go is so meaningful to me. So, here’s my story about truly letting go…

When Suzi lay in her hospital bed a mere 33-hours prior to taking her last breath, I stood over her in her hospital bed, knowing how badly she was struggling just to breathe (while on full oxygen). Without pity, remorse or anything other than pure love, I leaned in and whispered into her ear, “If you need to go, then go.”

She looks up at me and removed her oxygen mask, and through a veil of medication and struggle asked, “What did you say?”

I leaned in closer and said, “You heard what I said”… to which she then replied, “but the look on Emily’s face as she was leaving…” (Emily is our youngest daughter, and was 18 at the time).

I touched her forehead with my lips and said, “She will be okay. We will all be okay.” And I told her once again, “It’s okay if you need to go.”

“I love you so, so much…” was her reply.

I said the usual. “Ditto”…

That was our last “conversation.”

I let go.

So did Suzanne.

So basically, this overly wordy, self indulgent post is really all about me letting go of the thoughts that have been holding me back. Those thoughts that were making me feel like I’m “less than”, “inadequate”, “unworthy” and “self absorbed” simply because I wanted to write to express how I feel.

So once again, I’m letting go.

And this is what I felt Suzanne did. A fellow widow shared this two days ago, and I found it strangely comforting and apropos:

She Let Go…
Without a thought or a word..
She let go.

She let go of the fear.
She let go of the judgments.
She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.
She let go of the committee of indecision within her.

She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons.
Wholly and completely..
Without hesitation or worry…

She just let go.

She didn’t ask anyone for advice.
She didn’t read a book on how to let go.
She didn’t search the scriptures.

She just let go.

She let go of all of the memories that held her back.
She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.

She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go.
She didn’t journal about it.
She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer.
She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper.
She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.

She just let go.

She didn’t analyze whether she should let go.
She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter.
She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment.
She didn’t call the prayer line.
She didn’t utter one word.

She just let go.

No one was around when it happened.
There was no applause or congratulations.
No one thanked her or praised her.
No one noticed a thing.

Like a leaf falling from a tree..
She just let go.

There was no effort.
There was no struggle.
It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad.
It was what it was.. and it is just that.

In the space of letting go, she let it all be.
A small smile came over her face.
A light breeze blew through her..
And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.

Rev. Safire Rose

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