Prompt: What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why? (Author: Alice Bradley)
I never let go. I seem to be an emotional packrat, which is not something that I recommend.
Sometimes certain ideas or behavior fade away; and since I've entered analysis, I find that many of the ways that I've functioned in life -- that subconscious rulebook or system of belief -- are no longer useful. Unfortunately, being aware of those systems doesn't make them go away. You can't just "let go." They served a particular function in your life, like keeping you from being beaten or allowing you to get from day to day without wringing someone's neck. You have to replace those systems of belief with something else, and you have to trust that the new system will not cause your entire world to fall apart.
I imagine this in religious terms when I try to explain to people who haven't had to go through the process of un-fucking their own heads. Religious people go through life honestly and completely believing in a supreme deity, maybe more than one. Then, they might have a crisis of faith, one that causes them to doubt that deity or the existence of that deity. What will this mean to their world if they alter their beliefs about the deity, or even cease to believe in that deity at all? Will they go to Hell? To walk away -- to "let go" -- of that belief system is perhaps a greater leap of faith than believing in it. Not so easy.
Also, not so clear cut. Not so immediate or instantaneous or easily described only months after it supposedly happened, as the prompt implies. You often don't realize that this has happened for years, if ever. You don't so much "let go" as "re-learn."
If I've "let go" of anything, it hasn't been in the past year but the past several years or the past decade. The real process was not "letting go," either. "Letting go" best described the loss of certain key friends. "Loss" isn't really the right word either. Whatever made our friendship a friendship was not longer there, whatever we needed out of each other we no longer needed and had been replaced elsewhere.* Geography made the drifting process much easier; and, for me, a change of location was all part of the real process for me, inseparable from whatever I was becoming. But that "letting go" really symbolized something else going on with me (and, of course, with them). I saw myself as headed toward something else. Whatever fit the metaphor of "letting go" I only realized in hindsight.
Removing something from your life is perhaps much harder to think about doing than adding something. Adding draws you forward and gives you something to do. Removing is much like a story my first therapist told me about a guy -- it may have been Freud -- who wanted to forget about another guy, Freddy. So, to stop himself from thinking about Freddy, he put a sign on his desk that said "forget Freddy."
Jeez, now that I think about it, I understood the story at the time, but I was still left with the question, "how, then, did he go about forgetting Freddy?" The sign wasn't the way to forget, so what was, dammit?
Now that I think about it, too, asking that question was probably among the first moments in which I began to reject my parents' wallowing or pursuit of immediate gratification and start running toward something else.
This is all so very vague, which is to say that the terms of this prompt aren't really descriptive of my experience, despite the fact that I use the same language myself all of the time. Maybe I need to "let go" of the language of "letting go"!
*In one or two cases, the last time that I spoke to the people in question, they had called me, and for the first minute or two of the conversation I thought, "wow! I've missed this person." By the fifth minute, I remembered why I hadn't talked to them in a while. In one case, I started to feel physically suffocated by their conversation.