How Letting Go Finally Brought Me Happiness
When I was a young girl, being ‘good’ was very important to me. It was THE most important thing to me. I wanted to fit in, and I wanted to be liked. As a sensitive only-child, the world sometimes seemed like a pretty scary place.
Being ‘good’ and ‘normal’ gave me some sense of security.
I hated change and letting go of anything that brought me security would have been akin to torture.
At nineteen, I started to fret as I didn’t yet have a steady boyfriend - even at that age I yearned for a traditional, so-called normal life. I wanted to be a wife and mother and I fervently prayed that it would happen sooner than later.
At twenty, I finally met my future husband and breathed many sighs of relief. It seemed that it was all going to be OK.
And for a while, it was. I got married, had two babies, worked full-time in my safe government job to contribute to the mortgage, and did all of the other things that wives and mothers generally do.
When the unthinkable happened and my husband announced that he wanted a divorce, my safe and normal world was very abruptly turned upside down. I had no say in the letting go of our marriage and it damn near killed me. In my grief, I honestly thought that nothing would be good or normal again - the thought that I could one day be happy again was laughable.
A few months after my husband’s departure, however, I started to see a few rays of light. They were dull at first… but they were there. I actually started to enjoy being on my own, and being a single mum to my two babies (who were now fully grown teenagers).
The fact that I was OK – some days more than OK – was confusing to me. How could I possibly be anywhere near happy when something so terrible had happened to me?
I could feel myself wanting to accept what had happened; to let my marriage go; to let my idea of happily-ever-after go. So, slowly and painfully, I did it. I started to find happiness in little things – small, silly things. I started to let go of the story (created mostly in my head) that I needed to be married and ‘normal’ to feel happy. That everything needed to be perfect for me to feel secure and safe.
My journey through grief taught me a lot about letting go.
Letting go of what I thought I needed to be happy; letting go of what I thought life should be like; letting go of ideas and notions about society and life that I somehow inherited, but now know have nothing to do with me.
My marriage was the first major thing I’ve ever had to let go of. The ending of my marriage was not my choice. Finally letting go of old beliefs surrounding what I needed to be happy and secure, was.
Here is what else I’ve learned to let go of:
The idea that I need to be in a ‘safe’ job until the day I die. I am currently preparing to leave aforementioned safe government job to explore new and different opportunities which better reflect who I am today – not who I was twenty years ago.
The need to be involved in every single decision that my children make. I’m teaching myself to give them space, and to encourage them to forge their own unique paths through life (I was thoroughly tested on this recently when my nineteen-year-old daughter came home with a tattoo).
The idea that I need a detailed plan for the next five to ten years of my life. I have a rough idea of what I want to do, and where I’ll be, and I’m planning accordingly. But I’m leaving sufficient space in my head for new, as-yet unknown, developments.
I was happy enough when I was married. But ultimately that happiness depended on a plethora of external things – things which I often had very little control over. Things like my kids being well-behaved; people at work liking me; my husband wanting to stay with me.
These days, most days, I’m happy just because I want to be. Because I understand that nothing in life is ever really guaranteed, and that nothing truly lasts forever. I understand that I can’t control everything that happens, and nor should I want to. I have faith that I’ll be OK with whatever transpires, and that it is OK to enjoy the ride.
Now I truly understand what beauty and power there is to be found in LETTING GO.
Have you found relief in letting something go? Please, share in the comments!
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