Instructions for Freedom.

“Someday you’re gonna look back on this moment of your life as such a sweet time of grieving. You’ll see that you were in mourning and your heart was broken, but your life was changing…” – Elizabeth Gilbert
It seems lately the common theme of my life has shifted to letting go, whether it is letting go of control, letting go of worries, or letting go of the past. I feel like this entire journey has progressed through so many different stages of healing and developing resilience, dabbling back and forth between complete brokenness, resentment and anger, a period of learning, and lastly hopefully ending up somewhere in actual healing territory. But that’s what journeys are for. If it were easy and we arrived quickly without any challenge, then I don’t think we would grow very much as human beings.

It’s been a tough road. My breakdown in 2014 was a turning point in my life where finally I would go from trying to control every aspect of my life to losing almost all control over everything and completely being in acceptance mode.  I was forced to accept many things, definitely not by choice, which led me to changing my lifestyle completely. As time went on, I did inevitably grow stronger. I was able to stop resisting, which is one of the most important factors of finding freedom. Once you begin to stop resisting things, or rather trying to keep your power of control, that’s when you will begin to find freedom. Once you begin to realize that you’re not really as powerful as you believe, and that ultimately things happen anyway, you will start to feel more peace. 

As I grew more confident with knowing who I was, I realized that the life I was leading was not one I truly wanted for myself. I was unhappy and ultimately leading a life that had drifted far from what I had desired for myself. My then boyfriend and I had grown apart for years, but because of fear, I did nothing about it. I stayed because that is what fear does to people. Fear is also what puts us in a control state of mind. When we are afraid, we grasp for control, and to me staying in that relationship gave me a false sense of control over my life when in reality it just made me unhappy and gave me a false sense of security. I bravely ended things after 8 years of being together. (For those of you following my blog, this is kind of a recap, sorry!) It was probably the bravest thing I’ve ever done. It now meant that I literally was giving up control over my future and trusting in faith in stead that somehow things would work out for me, that I would be led to whatever I was meant to be doing. 

Since then it has been a journey of trial and error, or learning and discovering, and of lots and lots of letting go. I didn’t realize until after things were over, wayyyy after things were over (I’m talking a year here) that I was holding on to so much resentment. 

Here’s the thing I recently learned about resentment. Resentment and fear are really connected. As this Life Hack article suggests, “We become trapped in a self obsessed cycle of being afraid of the future, angry in the present, and filled with resentment over our past.” I guess the resentment was always there, just because I was already harboring bitterness from not being in a place I wanted to be in my relationship and my life. I guess I just didn’t know it until after the fact, because that is usually what happens after things like this end. While you’re in it, you’re too blind by your own emotions that you don’t really know what you are feeling exactly except that it hurts. But once it’s over, and time passes, you begin to understand what you were truly feeling.

The point at which my resentment really came tumbling out was right after I found out he had gotten married to someone else right away. And it wasn’t really because I was upset that it was to someone else and not me, it was simply because I was afraid for my own future. 

My anger was coming out of a place of fear. I felt afraid for my future – “what if I never get married now, all because I let him go?” Anger and blame over the future coming from more fear – “it’s all his fault that I’m not married now.” And lastly, resentment – “I wasted all that time just to be unwanted.” 

Feelings are a funny thing. I don’t think we should necessarily avoid them when we have them, even if they don’t necessarily feel right to have. I think the more we avoid what we are truly feeling, the longer it takes for us to get over something and let it go so that we can move on to a healthier state of mind.  

I really was not aware that I was harboring these feelings because I was avoiding them for the longest time. I kept saying I was fine, that it didn’t matter, and that I was over it. In reality, I was just in denial over the fact that what I was feeling was hurt and most of all fear of my future after making the life altering decision to leave. 

So I guess I’ve been dealing with these feelings now. I’ve been trying to accept them and acknowledge them rather than avoid them or minimalist them. It’s difficult because when you finally begin to accept the feelings and really feel them, a rush of pain, hurt, and anger starts to course through your body. What I’ve learned to do is write down why exactly I feel resentment towards this person or why I feel hurt by them. I then have learned to write down what part of me it affects, for example, I feel hurt by my ex because I feel rejected that he did not want to have a future of marriage and family with me and this made me feel unworthy or undeserving of love. So my underlying fear was that I wasn’t worthy of being loved, then or even now, which explains why in my current relationship I feel so insecure and constantly need reassurance. Isn’t it crazy what holding in our emotions can do? How, eventually with enough passing time, it can even alter our core beliefs about ourselves? 

Most people do not realize this. They hold in these emotions like anger or bitterness or hurt, believing that by avoiding it, they are somehow saving themselves from a lot of pain, when in reality, it is alo hurting and causing further issues in their present lives. Imagine if we don’t get over some past relationship and then start a new one, eventually those old resentments will make themselves present in the current relationshii because ultimately we will end up projecting our deep feelings of hurt onto our current partners, sometimes even unfairly blaming them for it. 

With all that said, the key to freedom really is acceptance – and by acceptance I mean accepting what we feel. Accepting that we were hurt. Accepting that we were abandoned. Accepting that we were rejected. Accepting that we are angry. Accepting that we feel pain. Accepting that it happened. Accepting that it didn’t happen the way we wanted it to. Accepting that it was the past. Accepting that we have no more control over it. Accepting that maybe we never had control in the first place. 

Once we begin to allow the acceptance of thee things, then we can begin the healing process of letting go. Ultimately that is what we want. To let go of all the weight that we carry, and to feel free and light once again.  So, my goal for myself is to not only learn to accept what I am feeling right now, but to eventually let it go. To accept that it was painful, but that it’s ok to feel hurt. I must accept also that it was my choice. And that ultimately I had never had control over a guaranteed future. I still don’t. The future is never guaranteed because it is always changing and sometimes we really can’t control the course we are placed on. All we have control over is how we handle it. So we can choose to sit here with our anger and resentment and bitterness, and pretty much continue ruining our lives by living in constant fear or we can let it all go, find freedom, and begin to live by faith instead – trusting that one way or another it’s going to be ok if we decide to let go of our tight grip. 

I want to stop living in a place of fear and rather living in a place of love and acceptance. I want to stop controlling everything, and instead simply let go and let things fall naturally into place. I want to stop living in resentment and carrying this poison of bitterness inside me over something in the past that I literally have no more control over. I want to start enjoying my present and trusting in my future, whatever that may be. 

Lastly, I want to share a piece from Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Eat, Pray, Love, where she shares a piece of wisdom from a New Zealand plumber she met at an ashram in India. In her own journey, she too was struggling with accepting the feelings she was feeling after her divorce and everything else she had been going through at the time. She was having trouble letting it all go and finding that freedom. So a man she met sends her off to the top of the ashram tower with a small note of instruction on how exactly to find that freedom. This is what it said:

 “Instructions for freedom”:

1. Life’s metaphors are God’s instructions.

2. You have just climbed up and above the roof, there is nothing between you and the Infinite; now, let go.

3. The day is ending, it’s time for something that was beautiful to turn into something else that is beautiful. Now, let go.

4. Your wish for resolution was a prayer. You are being here is God’s response, let go and watch the stars came out, in the inside and in the outside.

5. With all your heart ask for Grace and let go.

6. With all your heart forgive him, forgive yourself and let him go.

7. Let your intention be freedom from useless suffering then, let go.

8. Watch the heat of day pass into the cold night, let go.

9. When the Karma of a relationship is done, only Love remains. It’s safe, let go.

10. When the past has past from you at last, let go.. then, climb down and begin the rest of your life with great joy.
The Self Love Daily Challege: accept what you feel and let go.

Christina Ciro