Rain blows across the balcony, threatening to take my flower pots with it. Inside, I’m warm and dry. My cat curls up by my feet. I’m contemplative. Is it because of the rain? Maybe. I’m preoccupied by memories—not the happy kind. Rainy day memories. And with these memories come feelings, sensations in my body. Tension. Weight. A heaviness.
I notice that these memories stir anger. The anger at first disguised itself as sadness. But, no, this is anger. The anger burns in my stomach. Clenches my jaw. Clutches my hips and low back. I realize those memories are stuck in my body. How can I let them go? It’s not the first time I’ve struggled with them. Wrestled. Turned away. Stuck them deep inside. Like so many things in life, they’ve come back around; we walk a spiral path. I face them. I feel them so viscerally I want to throw things. To get it out. To find release.
So, what to do? First, I turn to journaling, which helps me to identify what’s happening and to begin the release. Then I struggle to focus on “real life,” AKA what’s happening now, priorities and obligations. I realize I have to let this “stuff” continue to emerge, like a volcano that’s slowly erupting deep within my heart. I have to identify it. Find forgiveness. And then release it. Keep in mind, this is not a process that will happen all at once or even one time. It has taken my entire life to come to this place and I know that I will come back to it again , but next time it will be different. By acknowledging this pain, by actively addressing it, and working to release it, next time won’t be the same, it won’t be so “bad.”
I’m angry and this anger is part of the grieving process. You may have heard of the five stages of grief. They are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. A sixth stage—meaning—has also been added to the list. These stages don’t necessarily happen in order or even one at a time. I’m not grieving the physical death of anyone. I’m grieving something that happened long ago. We grieve many losses over the course of our lifetimes, some actual deaths, but also many more other kinds of losses, whether earlier versions of ourselves, relationships, or other changes in our lives.
I’ve put together a list below of some suggestions on how to move through times like this. If you find yourself in a similar situation, wanting to release some old “stuff,” memories or beliefs or situations that need to go, that are no longer useful, maybe some of these ideas will help you. I hope so.
7 Ways to Let Go, Release, and Move On
- Write it down. Write out everything you’re feeling, with no worries about grammar or “getting it right.” Just spill it. You can also write as though you are addressing a specific person. Write them a letter (that you won’t actually mail; this is just for you). I’m a big believer in writing for catharsis. Writing helps to get the stuff out of your head and heart and down on paper. And I mean write this stuff down on paper. Then you can burn it. That’s right, burn it (safely, of course!). You may even want to take this a step further by composting the ashes. Use the ashes to literally grow something new and beautiful.
- Throw stuff out. Get rid of objects that remind you of whatever the memory is that you no longer wish to have in your life. Throw it all out.
- Reframe it. OK, so whatever happened was really unpleasant. But what did you learn from it? Release the pain by focusing on what you gained. Reframe the story so it’s empowering to you. Find meaning in the experience. Reclaim your power.
- Tell someone. Talk with a therapist or a trusted friend. Use a voice recorder (and then erase it). Speak the memory. Speak your anger. Speak your forgiveness. Speak it out of your body.
- Move. Move your body. Use exercise to exorcise the pain from your heart. Go on a long walk. Run. Sweat it out. Try doing some yoga, especially “child’s pose.” You may even find that moving other things, whether it’s photographs, objects, furniture, or something else, will help as well.
- Visualize. Imagine the tension falling away from your body, or disappearing like smoke. See yourself waving “goodbye” to whomever or whatever it is you need to let go.
- Take a bath. Sit in a salt bath, either Epsom salt or sea salt. Water has incredible healing properties. Imagine that you are cleansing yourself of the past.
Be sure to focus on your breath. Anytime you find yourself feeling upset or anxious, remember to breathe. Notice your breath. Are you breathing? Are you holding your breath? Let it go. Take three cleansing breaths, each with a deep inhale and an even deeper exhale. Let. It. Go.