Disney Again? Really?
Sorry to say it, but yes I’m referencing Disney again. In the form of ‘Frozen’. As I’ve said before, music is incredibly important to me. It speaks to me and helps me through a lot of what I’m dealing with. ‘Let It Go’ is that hugely popular anthem for the movie that every little girl seems to know verbatim. In the film Elsa seems to be able to let go of the things that have held her back from being her true self. Learning to truly accept who she is and let go of who she used to be is central to the development of her character. But in real life it can be much harder to do this. How do we learn to let it go when hurts from the past are hampering our recovery?
Nothing Worth Doing Is Ever Easy
Someone said to me that letting go of the hurts we’ve experienced is idealistic. That the reality is that it’s much harder to do, sometimes impossible. I know it is. I can be the poster child for holding a grudge. Only recently I had a conversation with Alex that opened my eyes. In my dealings with my ex-husband, Alex noticed I would often become aggressive in tone, I would become stubborn and immovable. Negotiation and compromise (especially as regards our children) just wasn’t an option.
My ex has undergone an incredible amount of change since our separation, he is now doing everything he can to build bridges with our children and become the father he should have been. He’s maintaining the changes and not reverting to previous form and recognises that who he used to be was not good. So why am I getting aggressive and possessive as regards our children when I can see he is amending himself?
After a considerable amount of discussion (and tears on my part) what finally stumbled from my lips was that I didn’t trust the changes I could see. That I was still holding on to the hurt and pain from our dysfunctional relationship and it was affecting my behaviour and preventing us from moving forwards.
I need to learn to let it go.
It’s Not Even About Forgiveness
That’s the thing. It’s not even about forgiving him. This is for me. Holding on to that pain is not helping me in my recovery. If anything, it just pushes me closer to relapse. And I don’t want to relapse. I don’t want the scars from the damage that was done over the 18 years we were together to impact my new relationship. I’ll give you an example; recently Alex was unable to attend an Easter Egg hunt with me at my mom’s house because he was mentally and emotionally drained. His mental health wasn’t good and he needed the break. On the surface, I smiled and reassured him it was OK. I understood. Like him, I know that depression can make us have to make choices of how best to expend our energy.
But inside me it triggered something. A wound opened up. All the times I had been abandoned to attend things by myself with the kids when my ex couldn’t be bothered. The times when we were made to feel we just weren’t good enough for him to want to be around.
Inside, it became raw and painful. I was angry and yet sad at the same time. My brain supplied all the untrue reasons for Alex’s absence (He was embarrassed by us, we weren’t good enough for him) and to my mind it all became solid truths. That there is something fundamentally wrong with me (and by association my children) that would mean no man wants to be around.
My ex and Alex could not be more different men. Alex is kind, caring and affectionate. He would do anything for me and the kids and on numerous occasions has. I cannot hold him responsible for how my ex mistreated our family and I cannot punish him for feelings that get inadvertently triggered. So I have to learn to let it go. By taking a moment (after a minor rant to myself) I realised that my anger and pain was essentially being put there by a memory. By holding on to that pain I was not seeing the reality; Alex wasn’t in a good way and if anything needed my support. The moment I saw this, I knew I had to put those feelings aside.
By holding on to the pain from my previous relationship I was impeding my children from establishing a better relationship with their father, and stopping me be there for my partner. I refuse to live like that. I won’t be that person.
It’s Not Easy, But I’ve Got to Learn to Let It Go
So that’s what I’m now trying to do. I’ve got to learn to let it go. I cannot live my life where my depression and anxiety are at constant risk of being triggered because of the past. Somehow, I’ve got to learn to get past them and look at what’s important. My children. Alex. The future we are building together. I’m going to banish the ghosts of past hurts, so I can get the future I want.
It’s not foolproof. I know that. Triggers are triggers. But it’s how we deal with them. Like anyone else with mental health issues, I have to learn to look past the feelings and look at the reality. Is it really that bad? Is what I’m feeling really accurate or is it just me being haunted by my past experiences?
To quote Elsa;
It’s funny how some distance
Makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me
Can’t get to me at all!
It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
No right, no wrong, no rules for me I’m free!
What do you think? Because it sounds good to me!
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