Sunday, August 9, 2015

Repurposing Bitterness, Cutting Loose the Emotional Ball and Chain

What happens when in any given situation you’ve done all you possibly could or would and it still isn’t ‘enough’. How should you feel and should you do something more? 
With age, I have learned to more easily have a stoic perspective on letting go and not feeling an obligation to “step up”. The qualifier is, “with age”. I have muttered at least daily, “I’m too old for this crap.”
Lately I’ve experienced more than a few people who carry so much emotional baggage for things in the very distant past and relatively recent past, it feels as though I am surrounded by emotional vampires or adrenaline junkies and sometimes both. These are the times I am muttering, “I’m too old for this crap.” It can be soul sucking to listen to the drama of  displays of hurt feelings, emotional injustices, real or imagined as they suck away from a day that already feels shortened before doing it all over again the next day. 
My upbringing often leaves me with the feeling that I should continue to keep giving or trying or supporting. This is a misguided message that has been passed down to many women that by virtue of gender, we should be able to keep going on – supporting, doing, fixing, making things better, wiping others tears, regardless of how we feel, physically or emotionally about any given thing. I’m not talking about martyrdom or perennial self-sacrifice. I am too old for the self-sacrifice crap. I‘ve earned my entitlement to a little self-indulgence.
I am talking about letting things go and knowing when it is time to forgive and forget, whether it’s about yourself or others or events. Stuff happens. Life is filled with stuff, good and bad. To this I say, “Suck it up Cupcake. Put you big girl pants on and get on with it.”
You might have seen a Facebook post that makes the rounds, “If you want to fly, you gotta let go of the stuff that weighs you down.” I acknowledge this is easier said, than done.
Sometimes, not always, the stuff that weighs you down must be resolved before you can let it go. Whether you have to resolve it with another person or within yourself, depends on how much it weighs you down. Some stuff will never be resolved.

Another axiom that seems to make the rounds in social media is “ holding a grudge is like letting someone  (or something) live rent free in your head.” Sometimes that grudge is personally yours, with your own past or behaviors.

The story told of two monks that came upon a crying young woman, troubled by not being able to navigate her way across a deep river. The younger monk turned away because of a vow to not touch a woman. The older monk silently assisted the woman in need and went on his way, while the younger monk harangued the other about his charitable deed. Finally, at the end of the day the older monk turned to the younger one. "I only carried her across the river. You have been carrying her all day."
It’s a good example of letting go of the past, looking toward the future, but living in the present moment.
Taking from “10 Tips to Let Go of the Past, here follows five personal thoughts of a list of my own unsolicited 2 cents:
  1.    Meditate: find some place or time to quiet your brain and slow your heart, whether it’s a brief prayer or silent mantra, learn the value and self-sustenance of being still.
  2. Understand: look at yourself and acknowledge how you affect others in your life circle. Negative behaviors will attract negative responses. Take ownership for that but don’t let it define who you are as a person.
  3. Accept: Acknowledge the past, good and bad, see the benefits, learn from the outcomes and free yourself from whatever feels like a mental ball and chain.
  4. Empty your cup: declutter that emotional hoarding. It has an awful bitter aftertaste.
  5. Flex: Be flexible in your thoughts and stretch your beliefs. Don’t be the young monk who would forsake the welfare of another human being and judge another because of an inflexible personal conviction.  He might need similar assistance for himself at another time.
When life gives you lemons, don’t just make the lemonade, add extra sugar. Enjoy the refreshing sweetness of a repurposed bitter fruit.

Make enough of that sweet lemonade to share with others, especially those in your life circle.


  1. Hi Joanne, this echoes how I am trying to live and what I am trying to accomplish with The Cracking Nut. Great post! You are a wise women.