On letting go: from a control freak's perspective
I’ve just returned from a trip to Vancouver and Los Angeles, and – suprise, surprise – I’m ready to change my life again. I’m frequently making moves and shedding my skins, and this trip has given me a power I didn’t think I had to take it further. First step: publishing this and not hitting "delete" after all is said and done.
A couple weeks before arriving, I had been feeling like nothing I do matters and everything is terrible. Well, it got worse before it got better (as it does); I dealt with some shit I didn’t have to. Happily, it’s over now. Come Friday before I left on my adventure, I was ready to get on my flight and on with my life.
In the air, I started over mentally: I was headed to one of my favourite cities doing some of my favourite things. I was going to work (I love my job blah blah etc you know this), talk to people (believe it or not), and get a tarot reading. I was also planning on finding a damn good dispensary and see some mountains (it’s Vancouver – and I should feel at home away from home).
I checked all those boxes off my list and got ready to hit up my tarot reading. I thought I was prepared.
I love reading tarot. I believe in it as an intellectual tool to prompt internal dialogue – I use it for guidance. It makes me ask questions I wouldn’t readily come up with, and it makes me think real hard about them.
This time, I was practically begging for someone to do the thinking for me. Actually, I was literally begging – I said something like, “I know what I need to do, but something needs to tell me what to do.”
What does that even fucking mean? Like, as a question and a concept? Did I even study English for five years?
It means that I need confirmation that my decisions are good – in other words, I’m seeking permission. From what? From whom? I’ve never asked for permission for ANYTHING before – what the hell am I doing now, thinking it’ll help me in my present situation?
My demand was, quite simply, one of the dumbest things I’ve ever said. I know what I need to do…but tell me what to do? I can’t get over it.
I was hit with some truth:
"You need to let go."
Okay. Yes. I know. I know I need to “let go,” but when I hear it, it doesn’t mean anything to me. There are so many ways to “let go!” There are so many things to “let go” of! What if I “let go” of the wrong thing?????
Another thing I know, in neon letters above my head: I am a bona fide, low-key (in the sense that I try to deny it) "control freak." I don't even like using this term.
But is anyone surprised?
I was surprised (and relieved!) that someone had actually said it to me. Out loud. Without apologizing.
I paid for my session, took some pictures, and left the shop with heart poison coalescing in my eyes. It was a beautiful day in Vancouver. I was determined to control the control freak within me. I was determined to “let go.”
Irony; cruel, sweet irony.
Now instead of dancing around this concept of “letting go,” I will rip into my proverbial wounds and traumas and deal with my truth, for the sake of a blog post, and to “let go.”
I’m recognizably a hardened woman. I’ve only recently got my bearings on what being a woman means to me and being comfortable in it. I don’t yet fully grasp the hardened part – I know that I am like a mollusk. My shell is not that hard and I come out of it often, but only under the right circumstances. I risk being stepped on but that is just my nature; a snail, if you will.
I know I’m not truly hardened – I only present as such. Why? Control; I am in fucking control. Presenting as totally in control is a way of proving to myself that I am not my disorder, I’m not my past trauma, I’m not the person you think I am, and I’m definitely not going to let “you” or anyone else convince me otherwise. You’re going to pick up what I’m putting down or you’re going to keep away.
In writing this, I finally see the light of what I was dancing around: what I truly need to let go of is the idea that, once someone (anyone, everyone) sees that I’m not always, every second of the day this unforgiving, strong-willed, uncompromising badass woman, they will not respect me. I place respect above all other things I could possibly receive from another person, and I was taught that being respected is the only way I could get shit done.
Being a woman, a woman coming to terms with intergenerational trauma, a woman who grew up playing between privilege and ruin, a woman who works in a male-dominated field, a woman who wasn’t “a real woman” by any theological/political/social/familial standards was a trash experience until the aforementioned recent grasp on personal reality. I heard from my mother, the one woman always around whether I liked it or not, that being strong means you do not cry and you do not let others “walk all over you.” Letting someone in, letting go is a big “letting someone walk all over you.” A thing you cannot have happen if you want to remain intact.
What I think she was really saying to me was this: Don’t live the same kind of life I did. Don’t be broken down by anyone else.
In “letting that happen” – in letting myself be overwhelmed by abuse that ended up manifesting in self-hatred, in letting myself feel less than for things I couldn’t control or decisions I made in my best interest – had I failed myself?
No. I had been failed. I’ve been failed by a number of things (patriarchy, etc) that all pointed to “be this ideal of a person.” The true you was never and will never be good enough.
You can see the effects of this bullshit in everything I do – my job, my writing, my apartment, my relationships, my appearance, my dog, my interactions – you’d think none of that is “good enough” for me because I’m always reaching for better, if not the best I can provide myself.
What do I have to let go of? My biggest fear: not being “good enough.” Good enough for what? For whom? I don’t need that kind of permission.
I’ve begun the slow, daunting process of actively rejecting the voice that says to me, “is this the best you can do?” when it’s there to sever and not service. This has been going on, and I knew it had to – bringing it full circle to that tarot reading you may have already forgotten about – already knew that this was integral to my healing, and I was already doing it.
Now, it’s clear what my improperly constructed declaration of, “I know what I need to do, but something needs to tell me what to do,” was really alluding to. Yes, I was on the right path and yes, I knew it – but I needed to fucking believe it. I needed to realize – totally on my own time, in my very own way – that I was absolutely deserving of it.
To quote one of my favourite rappers in one of my favourite songs – you’re god damn right.