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  • Writer's pictureGerard Grigsby, PhD, LCPC, LPC

From My Journal: Letting Go

Updated: Jan 4, 2022

Walking along the wooded path, soft earth compressing beneath your feet, you are headed for the water. This is the intention that awoke you from your sleep before the birds began their chirping.

You have been at this for a while now, steadily moving forward, knowing that a gift awaits you at the end of your journey. A gift of freedom? The promise of something you've only imagined? It is the hope of this gift that drives you forward...despite the pain...

This isn't new pain. It's a pain you brought with you. The pain of your burdens. Sharp, bony and rough. Burdens you can see and touch. You've turned them over in your mind so long, they've taken form, as if by alchemy. Walking along, you hold them, feeling their hard weight in your hands. Peering down at them, you notice that your shoulders are stiff. Your arms are tired. Your feet are sore. You feel your thighs and knees aching. Each step forward marks the distance you've traveled with this weight.

Glancing up, you see the water off in the distance, and a wave of relief washes over you. The water is calm, reflecting the gray sky. As you approach, you can hear the water calling to you, whispering in your ear. Letting you know you can trust its depths.

Then, you remember why you came. You look down, surveying everything you've been carrying. Every scar, ever wound, every rejection, every heartbreak, every failure, all your guilt, all of your regrets. You see it all. Resting in your hands, where they've been for so long. As you look at them, you realize just how heavy they are and feel the stiffness in your shoulders again. Such a familiar heaviness. A heaviness you've known for quite some time. A heaviness that has anchored you. Comforted you. Held you. A heaviness you aren't sure how to live without. You reflect on these burdens. Each one has a story to tell. Glimpses of memories past come back to you, and you remember why you've carried this weight for so long. A part of you is afraid to let it go. This makes sense. These burdens have shaped you. Defined you. Strengthened you. Hardened you. Made you more of who you are and less of who you were. Without them, who would you be? What would you do? How would you live?

The wind stirs, bringing your attention back to the water. You pause and stand there, pensive, contemplating what it means to hold these burdens...

Then it comes to you. Just a flash. A fleeting glimpse. You imagine what it could be like to be free of these burdens. To let them go...And suddenly, without warning, something stirs within you. A subtle flicker from somewhere deep inside. Something connected to your core. The part of you that intuitively knows what is good for you. The part of you that has always known. The part of you that rests in wisdom. You check in again. And this part flickers even brighter, glad to have your attention. It is urging you on, letting you know it is safe to trust your judgment. Safe to lean into this feeling. Safe to give yourself over and surrender to the truth that has always been there. It's time. This is a way forward. This is a necessary step. You go inward one last time and notice a buzzing, a vibration, a sign that you are fully present, fully embodied. You are connected to your Self. You sit with this feeling for a while, letting it resonate within and around you, until it's all you notice. All you feel. Compassionate. Caring. Loving. Curious. Everywhere...The buzzing calms to a low hum and you know what needs to happen next...

Opening your eyes, you realize you've somehow made your way to the water's edge. As you peer into its depths, you can see your reflection staring back at you. You recognize this face. You see the hard lines, the suffering, the desperation, the longing, and you are moved. Moved to ease the pain. Moved to lighten the load that brought you here in the first place. This movement takes hold of your limbs. It bends your knees, bringing you to the earth. You stoop down, shift your weight, lean forward, extend your harms. Then it happens.

Gently, you place your hands into the water...The wetness envelopes them. The water is warm. You relax your hands, opening them. Slowly, everything you brought here with you -- the memories, the grief, the anger, the resentment, the hurt, the pain, the confusion -- begins to lift. The water grasps them, and you feel a sense of relief. As you watch them float, you notice the soft ripples they create, and you realize the water is showing you something. From this distance, you can see them with so much more clarity. They look smaller from afar, but they still manage to disturb the water's surface, warping and distorting the light. And you begin to understand all the ways they have done the same to you. You are grateful for this clarity. You thank the water for this wisdom. This is confirmation. You know now that this was the way to your healing.

A breeze quickens and your burdens start to drift away from you. Slowly at first, then more quickly as the wind picks up. You watch them grow fainter as they are carried into the distance, and you start to feel a separation from them. Smaller and smaller, until you can barely see them. Slipping away, crossing the horizon. No longer visible. No longer with you. No longer here.

But there you are. Still standing on the shore. Lighter, freer, calmer, feeling the sand and pebbles beneath your feet. The weight of your clothes pressing against your body. The briskness of the air tickling your skin. The warmth of the sun touching your face, then radiating through you from head to toe. You see...smell...listen...feel...taste...taking it all in...

Then you inhale, letting the air permeate your whole body, filling up all the spaces you once thought were empty. When you exhale, you release more than just air. All you hold onto is an appreciation for this experience. You take another deep breath, noticing that the air feels different now, and you let it out with ease. With this exhale, you realize so much has changed in this little moment. This small span of time. You know you won't be the same. You've experienced a transformation. And this makes you smile. You take one last breath, savoring its sweetness before releasing it. Then you turn to continue on your journey, grateful for the water and the gift of letting go...



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