Letting go and holding on

Hello! I’m writing to you from the coolness of my garden. I woke to a morning literally bursting with the beauty and potential of the day ahead, so I thought I’d come outside and make the most of the sunshine and stillness before the day begins – and I’m grateful for the opportunity.

Being grateful is a skill I’ve honed over the past few years. I stopped listening to all the things I *should* have or *should* be or *should* try to achieve, and started to be grateful for what I already have, am, and have made real. 

My family has been the biggest achievement of my life – 2 wonderful children who I am so proud of. And fighting battles with mental illness, some of which aren’t over, has strengthened us and made us tighter than ever possible before. I am grateful for the opportunity to experience all we have, bad and badder! Mental illness has been a poorly wrapped, unwanted gift that we have grown to accept and now wouldn’t exchange.

Being grateful for things that are challenging, or painful, or we’ve been told we shouldn’t take anything from, has been the key to inner peace for me. Letting go of the need for perfection has freed me and releasing myself from the hope of everything being as I believe it should has been a gift. And gratitude has helped me to move towards that. ( Note I say towards, because I still have high standards and still sometimes seek perfection, but not as much!)

I was reminded of a Buddhist saying this week – Attachment is suffering.

It sat with me for several days, particularly as I navigate the emotions of my daughter leaving for uni soon. And I asked myself what I was attached to.

Aside from my family, friends and the PMH community – not much. I’ve let go of the desire for the spoils of life, and I know I am fortunate to have what I do. I am grateful for what we have, the opportunity to sit in the garden listening to the birds, for a full fridge, and a laptop and t’internet to chat to you on, but as it has done before in my life, it could vanish in a moment and a poof of smoke and I’d still be me, same as before.

There’s one thing I’m attached to though that may be causing me some heartache, and that is this moment. Or rather the moments I am experiencing now. I want to package them up. They are perfect. My beautiful girl debating with us last night about theories of addiction in gaming. Laughing at me as I tripped and tried not to drop a plate of burgers. Her upstairs sleeping, and me waiting to have that first conversation of the day and find out what has happened in her world overnight. I just want to hug these moments. She is on the brink of a leap into the unknown that we believed impossible even a year ago. And we are all dwelling in that possibility.

But I can’t own this moment or any other, good or bad. I can feel it and hold it in my mind and my heart. And then I need to let it go. Holding on to those moments that mean so much to us, that so perfectly sum up everything we value and hold dear, simply isn’t possible. If it were, we’d also have to hold onto the bad ones too, the times we can’t wait to be rid of. But sometimes we hold onto them despite knowing we can’t. It leads us to live looking back, into the past. Or it holds us in a moment that doesn’t exist, wondering if we’re going to see the darkness re-emerge, wondering if the light we can see is really real.

My ramble today is really about being grateful and about letting go. The gratitude bit is straightforward – start today by sharing 3 or more things you’re grateful for. Someone wrote this week that they struggled with it, and so, please remember they can be the simplest of things. Mine now are tea to warm my hands, the sound of a woodpecker and wood pigeons, and my watch, just because I love it. 

Being grateful doesn’t negate your battle or take away from your pain. Gratitude says, I see all you are going through, and I want to hold out a hand and help you move away from it quickly, and permanently. And we know this works, from the success stories in this community, to the scientific studies that prove its efficacy. 

When it comes to letting go, that can be a harder thing to do. It took me a long time to really believe that things were improving, that she was getting better, that she is recovered. And I held onto moments that didn’t exist for longer than I should have. 

Don’t be like me! Let them go!  

But like gratitude, it is a practice. Letting go of the need to hold onto this moment takes practice and commitment. It also takes faith; faith that letting go will make room for something different and better; faith that we will be ok when we’re not holding on, which can be hard if we’ve done that so tightly for so long.

Maybe you need to let go of the fear of a reoccurrence of your child’s illness.

Maybe you need to let go of a belief – about yourself, someone else, or the world.

Maybe you need to let go to really feel who you are and what you can be now.

And as for letting go of the moment, the only way to do that is to be present, and breathe, and allow your thoughts and feelings to flow in and out. Knowing they will change and morph and that’s ok.

What do you need to let go of today? What would you like to be free of? How can you start to move away from that feeling, into a new one?

Let me know in the comments. 

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