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The Art of Letting go




Via Instagram, my wife sent me an excerpt from the book, The Art of Letting Go. 


No lie, I was like- why is she sending this to me. I am good. I got it. I like what is in my life, when, why, and how. And, I love the people who are around me. Come on, what do I need to let go of. 


But, she is my wife. She sees me more than anyone else. We live together, hang out together (she is actually a pretty chill and fun person), we travel together, we eat dinner and do ALL the things together. And, when I am working from home, we are in the house together for days at a time….It be a lot…but I hope you get the point….we are together ALL the time.

 

And, I consider myself to be a very self-aware person. I am a therapist but I am in therapy (all therapists should have a therapist), have a business coach, read lots of books, and most importantly, I commune with God and my ancestors all the time. So, in short, I know me. 


But so does my wife. 


So when she sent the book, I asked, what do you want me to let go of and she said, everything that keeps you up at night. See, being an entrepreneur is not easy. But more thought provoking than that, is being a mom to older adolescents/young adults. Thoughts of these two kids keep me up at night. And, I cannot let go of them. They are my babies. 


So, I had to think deeply about what I COULD let go of and I found the answer. 


Let us rewind, years ago, I used to teach a parenting class, to help parents break generational cycles, specifically around discipline and child abuse. I mean, we did not refer to whippings as child abuse, in the 80s and 90s. It was expected. Mess up, get whipped. But it is abuse and I wanted parents to see that so they could decide to stop and allow their children to learn in different and less physically/emotionally harmful ways. Anyways, I used to tell the parents, “It is ok if you do not know how to parent your child at this age. When you decided to have your child and told the world that you were ready, you were actually ready for an infant or maybe a toddler. You were not ready for a 7-year-old, 13-year-old, or 22-year-old. You were ready for one stage of their lives and that is fine”. I used to say this because parents had guilt because they didn’t know what to do with their children or how to raise them with some new skills and tools. 


So, I applied this lesson to my life while I was raising my babies. And then something happened.


They became teenagers. And anyone that knows me knows that I LOVE kids including teenagers. 


But I was not ready for MY teenagers.

 

Transparently, I had (and honestly, have) a hard time letting go. 


I mean, there are LOTS of times when I still want to tell them what to do instead of letting them figure it out. I want them to treat me a certain way because of the sacrifices I have made for them (laugh if you want but I want my kids to think I am the best thing next to slice bread….but teenagers only think THEY are the best thing next to sliced bread, ha). I want them to see the world as I do, optimistically, enjoyable, but with a dash of skepticism that keeps us alert and alive. I want to keep parenting them the way that I always have parented them. But, that is not it. That is not possible. They need to grow and learn some things on their own. Yet, I was….and am….or have not….fully let go. 


And, I am not sure why. They are amazing kids. They are opinionated, communicative, insightful, and clear. They make good decisions (especially for their age), enjoy their life, and do not cause problems for anyone. They believe in God and the ancestors, get good grades, are healthy and fit. 


So, I know all of this is ME. It is all me. I am the one having a problem letting go. In fact, I may have clung too tight. Yeah, that is a thing too. 


Lord, I can not believe I am out here telling all my business but yeah, maybe this can help someone. 


So, back to the point. I realized that I had a hard time letting go because I do not know what is on the other side. When they were small, I knew the outcomes…or they were easier to predict. But now that they are older, I do not know the outcomes of their decisions or of letting go, and quite frankly, that scares me. 


I ground myself in hope and faith…and exercise and journaling too. But I have accepted that I need to let go of: 


  • The ways I parented them when they were smaller

  • The ways I want them to see me or interact with me

  • The ways I want to see them or interact with them

  • The fear that someone would take advantage of them

  • The fear that there were a couple things I did not prepare them to do

And there are things I am replacing it with: 


(Wait, before you move on and read more…let me highlight the importance of intentional replacements. When we let something go, we leave a gap of open space in our minds, hearts, or routines. In order to ensure that we do not accidently replace it with the same thing or similar things that we just let go of, we MUST be intentional BEFORE we let something go….to know what we are going to REPLACE it with. As a therapist, I suggest replacing it with something positive, light, and easy. Do not let go of a job and not have another one in store. Do not let go of mental anguish before making a plan for yourself to replace those thoughts with positive thoughts…or those behaviors with new and positive behaviors. When you let go…you MUST have a plan to close up the space or replace positive things in that now open and empty space in your mind, heart, or routines. Ok, let us continue.)


(Again*) And there are things I am replacing it with: 

  • Being a safe haven but on their terms and when they need it

  • Increasing my talks and time with God

  • Leaning in to my hobbies

  • Simply having free time, free mental space, and more acceptance. 


So, while Maegan did not suggest the book just for me to let go of how I parent the kids or what I want for/with them, I am engaging with the book so I can let go of all of my worries and replace it with pure and unaltered faith and peace. 


What do you need to let go of and how will you do it in 2024? 


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