I went to a yoga class last night, centring upon the idea of ‘letting go’. This act is very unlike me; doing anything productive that contributes positively to my mental health is something I tend to frown cynically upon. “I am hopeless, what is the point?” I moan at myself while caressing the doughy globe of my stomach after a pasta binge (myself and pasta have an extremely complex and somewhat erotic relationship, I will explain this maybe on my deathbed).
The incense and various essential oils streamed their ribbons through the air and I felt their tendrils embracing me. My schema was informing me that I would be in for lots of deep breathing and some stretching. I was excited: letting go is the exhale, it is a release of pressure. It doesn’t require the strength or concentration it takes to suck the world in through a straw. It is the sending of things from their cage inside of you back to where they belong. It is liberation!
It turned out to be far more strenuous than I anticipated. It all comes together as I am writing this, how symbolic my thought process and its jarring with reality was. I, like a lot of other people, thought letting go was an easy thing to do. I also thought, until recently, that the need to let go was an easy thing to detect. I took the concept of objective lucidity for granted. I didn’t know that love and other emotions make you behave in counter-intuitive ways. I thought that I would be able to see when something was futile and respect myself enough to stop spending precious energy on trying to prop it up, fill it out, cure it, etc.
It is the holding on that’s the hardest, surely?
If this is the only nugget of wisdom my whole life experience thus far has crystallised to, then so be it: letting go is harder than holding on.
Holding on is what we are used to. Holding on gives the possibility that the line will be tugged back one day, when we will feel it and be encompassed again in the world we have been staring at through a glass pane for so long. It is the clinging to the stain of something long after it has vaporised. It is the falling in love with something romantically abstract and utopian- an idea, a possibility. Holding on maintains a connection and a connection, no matter how excruciatingly painful, is more attractive than having none. You cannot blame yourself for this; it is wired into us to want to seek connections with those around us and particularly those we are already familiar with. Evolutionarily speaking, we are safer in packs than when we are alone.
Dropping this connection might feel like propelling yourself into space. You have infinite amounts of beautiful freedom now, but you are forever cut off from an old life you have told yourself you need above anything. We are anchored and defined and encaged by the thing we cling on to, whatever that may be.
I, personally, cling to my childhood luxuries in spite of the character building they prevent from happening. I fumble around for the safety net my family have always duly held up around me, whenever it goes dark. I am holding on to the remedies of the past because they were of use when I was at my most vulnerable, childhood. They are not good for me as an adult who needs to develop and self-actualise, and I recognise this, but I still hold on because being encaged is far less scarier for me than being free.
Letting go is hard. Extremely hard. Strenuous. Scary. Anxiety-inducing. Deceptive. As I promised myself in this class that I would let go of my guilt, of the people who no longer wanted me in their life, of missed opportunities, of my grief, of my selfishness, of the future I had planned, of so many things, a phantom limb feeling bubbled somewhere. I was missing something and my neural pathways were still trying to grab for it, something to give my life its old structure and purpose again. I felt like I was losing my identity.
This old structure and purpose was making me unhappy. It has no place for me now, it has shut me out. Still, I have a form of Stockholm Syndrome for it. I am clinging on to a locked box hoping that, eventually, it will ping open and shower me in jewels. I know deep down that it is empty.
I will talk more about this and hopefully better convey where I am coming from, but I hope that this has triggered a thought process inside of you. You need to let go of what you are clinging to. Stop clinging on to the withered clump of flowers because they were once beautiful. You know deep down you cannot save them, you would have already succeeded if you could. I am asking you to let it go, whatever it is that is holding you back THAT YOU CAN’T CHANGE. I am asking you to do the hardest yet most beneficial thing and drop it. Don’t allow yourself to dwell on it anymore. Remove the evidence of it in your life. Block it. Replace it with something that does not fill you with unmet desires and smouldering bitterness.
LET IT GO!!!!!!! *cue Frozen*