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The Irony of Letting Go

We hear so much unnecessary instruction about what we are meant to do when we are hurting and attempting to heal. It’s not just the actual uninformed words we hear, but the rapid speed in which others say them.

I wish others knew:

To let go would be our greatest pleasure. To somehow hold the pain and toss it in the wind, drop it down a mountainside, or leave it where it found us.

That’s not how healing works. I will share more on what has helped me heal below, but first let me address why these messages are harmful.

When someone has been traumatized and is attempting to make sense of this event (that is registered in their nervous system and changed the way they see the world), they are vulnerable-hopeful even. They reach out to who seems available and because this is a new experience, they are prone to believe what they are told.

Again, the vulnerability is not just how much they have changed, but also attempting to adapt to everything as quickly as possible while carrying this heavy (yet often invisible) burden inside their bodies.

To suggest they let go, is to request someone act as a miracle worker, when they are the ones needing the miracle. Will they still attempt to “let go?” Yes. They will shift the focus of their greatest pain and naively believe toxic messages that tell them letting go is what will heal them.

Long after further letting go moments, they find nothing has changed. This is because what has happened has put them in survival mode, and there is nothing about the term “let go” that is relatable to a nervous system that is attempting to regulate.

So, if we are going to let go it needs to be:

Letting go of giving input to someone who is traumatized, if it is not relatable to how their mind and body is responding.

Letting go of the belief system that healing is just a quick spiritual exercise and dismissing the impacts of a human body with a nervous system.

Letting go of the blame that is placed on someone for not healing quick enough, when they do not have the proper resources, support, or education to know how/where to ask for help.

Letting go of expectations that someone should heal based on how we view their experience, rather than how their body processed it.

Letting go is key. Letting go of the decades of dismissive irony that falls on the shoulders of those attempting to adapt to a mind and body at war, while hearing they just need to “let go.”

The things that have been most beneficial for me:

  • EMDR therapy
  • Meeting other survivors and hearing their stories
  • Learning everything I could about the nervous system (fact-based information about what my mind and body was going through).
  • Honest journaling. I write about my greatest fears, my shame, the terrible things I think about myself sometimes and trace them back to events where I learned them.
  • Inner child work.

Your list will be different. Your list will be centered around your needs. Trust that as you continue healing, the things that resonate most are where you need to invest and nurture. The things that feel conflicting, is often where you learn to pass and move on. But no matter what, look for safety. And if it is not safe, do whatever you can to let it go.

I continue to be grateful for this community that is being built. It is affirming years of loneliness and hard work.

I am so glad you are here!

Nate

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