Monday, August 20, 2012

Let 'Em Know & Let It Go

"There is love in holding, and there is love in letting go." 
-- Elizabeth Berg, The Year of Pleasures

   There are many things in life that we can influence and very few that we can control. In case you haven't noticed, we cannot control other people - not really. You can insist that a person do something, but you can't actually make that person do it. Even if you hold a gun to his/her head, ultimately that person chooses to do it or get shot. And even if you do find a way to control a person's actions, you certainly can't control someone else's feelings. You cannot make someone love you... you cannot even make someone like you or desire you. You can't make someone treat you with respect or keep someone from hurting you. 

   The only person you can exercise control over is... well, you. Duh. This is a bit tricky, of course, when it comes to your feelings. I do admit some feelings seem rather uncontrollable and often overwhelming. Believe me, I've experienced them all: love, lust, betrayal, rage, disappointment, heartache, and the list goes on. I don't remember asking to experience any of those feelings, but at some point I found a way to manage each one. 

   When it comes down to it, there are always two options: hold on or let go. Physically, we know that holding on and letting go are both voluntary actions (unlike something such as falling asleep, which is involuntary). I recently discovered that emotionally, these are also voluntary actions. 

   The trick is to know when to do what. I have no formula, but I have noticed a pattern that seems to work for me. I imagine both scenarios - the weight and security of holding on, and then the lightness and relief of letting go - and then I choose the one that brings me the most pleasure in that particular situation. Most of the time (but not always) it feels better to let go. 

   See, it's not always easy to let go, but it usually requires more energy to hold on. 

   Whenever your feelings involve someone else (and c'mon, when don't they??) I think it is important to tell  that person. It doesn't matter whether you're in love with the person or pissed off at that person (or both! ha ha). He/she deserves to know, and you deserve to express yourself. (Holding it in sucks even more than holding on.) Life is short and if you never allow yourself to be vulnerable, you're not fully experiencing it. 

   However, once you've expressed yourself, let it out, why not let it go? Hmmm, the phrase "let it go" has become a little cliche' so I'll word it differently: Allow it to leave. 
Allow. That is a verb. Allow. That implies choice/permission/control.

   Feelings will come, and you can't control that they'll come. But you can allow them to leave (when the time is right for you). 

  I don't mean it won't be a little messy still. After all, another way people say "let it go" is "just drop it". And usually when you drop something - especially something heavy - it makes some noise and a little clean up is required. 

   It's still your choice ultimately. Holding on can bring a different kind of pleasure. It makes you feel stronger (it certainly requires more effort); it makes you feel justified. Sometimes it makes you feel protected. Your anger and refusal to forgive can make excellent body armor. Holding unrequited love over your heart can make a fabulous shield. You'll probably be exhausted and possibly lonely... but, sure, sometimes it's worth it. Your call.

   As for me, I'm lucky to have people (and one person in particular) who do a great job of holding me up, so for the first time in a long time, I feel safe enough to let go.