The Beginning of Something Else

On June 1, 2007 I found out my husband and partner of almost two decades had been unfaithful to me since before our marriage, and had been having intercourse with prostitutes for 3 1/2 years. This is what happened next.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The difference between "letting go" and "giving up"

A little light bulb went on for me tonight in my 12-step meeting. Not something completely new, but something that finally clicked.

When I was younger, my mother often counseled me to "let it go." She was typically referring to feelings of anger or upset. "You don't gain anything by being angry. Just let it go."

It seemed reasonable, seemed to make sense, seemed to be something a nice, understanding person would do.

And as a child growing up in an authoritarian household it was her only option.

But it didn't ever feel right. If you're violated, how do you simply "let it go?" Isn't that just denial? Isn't that just stuffing it down, taking it, being a door mat?

Turning the other cheek never felt right to me inside. It felt like giving up, giving in, shortchanging myself. And it never felt honest. And it was never really gone.

So tonight when we were talking about "let go and let God," that phrase was snagging me.

But then our speaker phrased the question in a way that landed in my gut.

"How do you let go and let God? How do you take an appropriate action without being attached to the result?"

Clouds parted! That's right! That's the difference!!

What was missing from my mother's advice was the part about taking an appropriate action.

When someone is an asshole, the healthy way to let go is not to deny or oppress your feelings or response; it is to TAKE AN APPROPRIATE ACTION and then turn it over to your higher power (in other words, not be attached to the result.)

That is not giving up.

That is standing up for yourself, taking care of yourself, without being attached to a certain outcome (in other words, not expecting someone to change because you're pissed off, or validate your perspective - which they may not) and being willing to do it again as necessary until you feel heard and complete.

Letting go in the denial sense leaves me feeling angry, resentful and unresolved.

Letting go in a healthy way leaves me feeling empowered and peaceful.


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