WHEN I was 10-year-old, my 14-year-old sister died of a rare and irreversible genetic illness. As you may imagine, the emotional and physical challenges faced by my family leading up to and after her passing were numerous.
As a family, we did our collective best to maintain a sense of normalcy. I fondly remember camping trips, sleep-overs with girlfriends and spending countless hours at the community swimming pool. On the flip side, I recall a revolving door of medical professionals and care workers who became like our extended family and for me, my surrogate parents. I suppose, as it is with any family, ‘normalcy’ is a very subjective term.
My childhood experience turned me into a ‘fixer’. I wanted to fix my sister and make her better. I wanted to shield my parents from the fear and pain of losing their daughter. How I did this was by being the intentionally silly and light-hearted girl…always looking to make them laugh. But underneath it all, I was carrying a self-imposed burden that took me years to learn to ‘let go’ of.
One must let go of the self-imposed and pointless requirements we place upon ourselves. But first, you must recognize what these impositions are and where they stem from. For myself, it was recognizing that it wasn’t my responsibility to ‘fix’ the things that nobody, especially not a 10-year-old child, could fix. I needed to no longer live to fulfil the void of the loss of my sister and to instead start living for myself.
The thing about ‘letting go’ is that you have to allow a part of yourself to leave with it and to forgive yourself for doing so. You must learn to let go of the fluttering breath, the clenched jaw and the sorrowful eyes. You must learn to let go of the tight chest, the rising shoulders and the rigid back. You need to give yourself permission to allow your tears to flow. This can be a tricky one. We are taught not to cry, certainly not in public. We are told to hold it in, be strong and fight through it. But I say let those tears flow. It serves no purpose to deny yourself the release.
Letting go sometimes requires words to be shared with another. It takes a lot of courage to tell someone you are letting them go. It has been my experience that whether it is breaking off a relationship or losing a loved one, it is better to be honest with your inner feelings and to express them fairly and with conviction. Often we leave ourselves in a state of regret for not having taken the opportunity to have those heartfelt conversations. By not doing so, we add another layer of burden for the things left unsaid.
So I say, it is time to learn to let it go. Let your hair down, let your voice be heard, let your light shine bright. Allow yourself to move ahead, when you are ready, of course. Because letting it go is a funny thing, it’s so hard to do, but holding on can be even harder. It wears at your body, your heart and your mind. It can eat away at your existence and swallow you up. Learn to let it go. Learn to see the beauty of letting it go. Learn to cherish the fleeting moments we have, be them bad or good, they are what makes you, who you are and you are incredible.