There's an adage I love that says that nothing I've ever let go of didn't have claw marks on it. There's another that tells us that we must let go or be dragged (anyone who's water skied knows that one). Why is to so very hard to let go, once we've got ahold of something, whether it's a person, a job, an idea or philosophy, a situation, stuff, etc.? Why do we hold on well past the expiration date of relationships gone bad, situations that have begun to stink with decay and possessions that have turned the tables and now possess us, rather than the other way around? In the fifth installment of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, Lover Unbound, there’s one of those scenes that is so real, it's like a splash of cold water to the face. To the point where I felt the need to check my makeup to ensure I didn't have raccoon eyes from the drip. Sometimes, I completely forget I'm reading paranormal fantasy. So even though the scene in question involves a dead woman deciding whether to leave Limbo and ascend to heaven by letting go of her earthly love, the emotions were so raw and so real, I felt like I was that character, struggling with how to let go the ties that bind her to her love, knowing that she needed to do it, but having no idea how.
How many of you have been there? God knows I have, more times than I care to count. Because even if the will is there, or at least the intellectual understanding that the time has come to pry our fingers loose, sometimes the letting go just doesn't happen. This is where misery comes to visit—sometimes for a long time.
I can't be the only one who tells myself that I'm going to be ruthless about spring cleaning and that I’m going to throw or give away all the stuff I haven't used in a year, only to have a pathetically small pile at the end of the day. Because, you know, I might fit into that fabulous little black dress that is definitely too little for me these days sometime in the unspecified future. And I know I'm not the only one who used to make deals with myself, and also my friends, that if he put me down one more time, I was going to tell him it's over, only to find myself making excuses so that I didn’t have to make good on my promises to let go.
The truth is I'm not very good at letting go, but in my defense I don't actually understand the mechanics of the whole experience. Luckily, I have JR Ward to teach me life lessons that she puts in the mouths of ghosts and vampires. Ms. Ward tells us that letting go means accepting what cannot be changed without any hope or expectation. Letting go, according to JR Ward, means acceptance without bargaining or trying to control outcomes. It means accepting that love doesn't necessarily conquer all, life isn't always fair, and the good guys don't always win. These are tough truths to swallow, even when they are sugar-coated in some of my very favorite fantasy stories.
Letting go is hard. No two ways about it and no getting around it except for through it. I hate that. It’s getting to the place where we can look at reality with the scales fallen off our eyes and accept what is in front of us to see without thinking there is any escape from reality. Getting to a place where we can let go is a process. For me, it's an expression of grace, something I cannot will myself to do, that comes when it comes, on someone's timeline not my own.
If I were a Vulcan, it would probably be easier. I could apply my not-inconsequential intellectual skills to completing a cost/benefit analysis on should I stay or should I go now. And then do whatever logic dictates is the best choice. Because if I go there will be trouble, and if I stay it will be double. Go, it is. Except it doesn't work quite as cleanly as The Clash would have us believe. It's not always a matter of the mind, but rather a total eclipse of the heart (OK—no more song lyric references—I've been watching too much Lip Sync Battle, apparently). We get attached and stay attached. Like barnacles on the bottom of a boat. We need to be scraped away from that which no longer serves us, painful and messy as that can be.
But the payoff is Divine. The payoff is serenity. The payoff for letting go is peace. It is the most beautiful lullaby I’ve ever heard, lulling me to a place of deep surrender and harmony. The price is high, but the reward is worth it.
It’s sad but true that everything I let go of has claw marks on it. Even though I know that it’s something I need to do and that I will feel glorious when I actually manage to do it. On the other hand, acceptance and letting go are not for the faint-hearted. This is the stuff of epics, don't kid yourself. Take it one day at a time and ask for help. I certainly do. In fact, I'm going to finish this post and go back to my current life coach, JR Ward, and get all the help I can get. That lady knows from whence she speaks. She's as real as they come, imbuing all her fantasy with ground truth. I'm holding onto that.