Letting Go

Annah ElizabethUncategorized20 Comments


Warren and I had our second appointment with a marriage counselor last week.

This isn’t a new rodeo for us, as the saying goes.
The first person we saw collectively was my own Counselor Hank from many moons ago.
Actually the first person we saw, more than twenty years ago, was a guy who scribbled notes and diagrams across giant posters taped to his cabinets. 
Warren remembers that guy telling us that we should basically throw in the towel. “I don’t see it working between the two of you.”
Saying that makes me think of a conversation I recently had with a new friend who’s recently separated. She and her husband sought the help of a professional who told her, “I don’t usually tell people this, but…”
That is ASININE, pardon my French!
Now, first let me set aside this little chuckle rumbling through my psyche right now, for you see, I specifically asked Counselor Hank on numerous occasions, begging him at times, “Just tell me what to do so I can fix it.”
To which he replied, “I can’t fix it for you, Annah; I can only help you find your own answers.”
And let me tell you that for a while I was INFURIATED.
This guy’s trained to help people, to fix their problems and he’s telling me he doesn’t know how to FIX ME?
Which on some level probably read like this: I’m too broken.
But I wasn’t so badly damaged after all, AND, what I learned is that the process of finding our own answers works.

It works because the discoveries we come to are the keys to our individual conflicts, the instruments that come with our own filters and biases and desires.
When another projects his own objectives onto us, then our work becomes about his needs and motives and not ours.
I’m guessing I knew that when the first guy told us we didn’t stand a chance, and I’d wager that’s the reason I blocked Mr. Incompetent Counselor from my mind.
This newest guy said that he doesn’t like to refer to healthyrelationships because what is healthy for one might not be the same to another.

He likes to refer to productive relationships that carry with them their own unique sets of fingerprints. Something like that.
The first week he assigned Warren and me homework.
Not the dreaded homework.
If the guy’d given out grades, Warren and I might have passed by the skin of our teeth.
Each of us forgot the exact details of the assignment.
BUT, you want to know the funny part?
We each forgot and remembered the exact same thing.
The assignment was to list five of our marital strengths.
It’s unclear if Mr. Productive was clear about the fact that we were to do this assignment together, but whatever.
Warren and I didn’t discuss it because of one of our underlying issues. He doesn’t like me reminding him about things that he keeps forgetting, and I hate feeling like I’m his own personal prompter.
SO, we both showed up with the following lists in hand:
1.   5 Things that make our marriage work.
2.   5 Things that I love about Him/Her.
I’ll save our responses for another post, because right now what I really want to share with you is The Second Assignment.
Mr. Productive gave each of us a paper titled Letting Go and instructed us to read it right then and there and then to read it every day until we meet again.
He asked us to be in touch with how the different statements made us feel, and to notice if those feelings and thoughts changed in the coming week.
Without further adieu, here’s assignment number two.
Letting Go
Letting go does not mean to stop caring; it means I cannot do it for someone else.
Letting go is not to cut myself off; it’s the realization that I cannot control another.
To let go is not to be in the middle arranging everything, but to allow others to effect their own destinies.
To let go is to admit powerlessness, which means the outcome is not in my hands.
To let go is not to care “for” but to care “about” another.
To let go is not to fix, but to be supportive.
To let go is not to enable, but to allow learning from natural consequences.
To let go is not to be protective, but to permit another to face reality.
To let go is not to judge, but to allow another human being to be human.
To let go is not to try to change or blame others, it is to make the most of myself.
To let go is not to nag, scold, or argue, but to search out my own shortcoming and correct them.
To let go is not to adjust everything to my desire, but to accept each day as it comes and cherish myself in it.
To let go is not to criticize or regulate anybody, but to become what I dream I can be.
To let go is to fear less and love more.
To let go is not to deny, but to accept.
To let go is not to regret the past, but to grow and live in the present.
I felt a great deal of anxiety the first few times I read this list and found myself interjecting many buts
As the days have gone by, I feel less tension and have come to realize that these interjections are likely the very thing that is holding ME back from living my best life and from being as open-minded as I once thought I was.
These buts are valid concerns, for when two people are married and share obligation on many levels, one’s falter can adversely affect the other.
BUT, and there’s that word again, what having an open mind will do is hopefully allow Mr. Productive to help us find better ways of coexisting, either together as a couple or separate as two people who respect the love that created those bonds of marriage and then as two individual who, together, brought four beautiful children into this life…and then raised them up to be well-rounded, caring, compassionate, and conscientious citizens of society…
And now, I’m going to let you get back to what you were doing and ponder this for a spell.
But before you go, please share this with everyone you know and encourage them to share it with everyone they know, for this Letting Go thing isn’t just for couples, it applies to friendships and relationships of every imaginable form.
It belongs in Churches and Workplaces and Meditation Spaces and Homes and on Bulletin Boards in post offices and grocery stores and doctor’s offices. It belongs on our refrigerators and in our kids’ backpacks.
And it belongs in our own personal toolkits…
Until next we meet again, yours in healing, hope, and happiness…

And one last thing, while you’re here, be sure to subscribe to our neighborhood for occasional updates, events, and general healing tools and resources. I promise to protect your information as I do my own!

20 Comments on “Letting Go”

  1. I love the exercise. Love it. Here’s one thing that always nags at me: when bloggers in the process of working through marital issues post greater or lesser amounts of info about that process and the relationship,how does it affect the work that is going on? I would feel so uncomfortable revealing this stuff while it was in progress for fear that in telling my truth I wouldn’t honor the relationship enough and that would damage the work we’re doing in some way. That would be my … terror. Yet, you have been through so much together. Blessings on the work you are doing together and may the greater good of all prevail. Hugs…

    1. Thank you for reading and sharing and commenting, and for this honest feedback, Carol.

      This is a question I have pondered, as well. There is a saying in memoir that one should always tell her own story, and not that of another person.

      And yet, I am plagued by the simple fact that a part of my story cannot be told without revealing part of my husband’s story. There’s no other way to talk about infidelity without divulging that information…

      One of the setbacks in healing from child loss, depression, and betrayal was that I didn’t see those cogs working in others’ stories,; I only heard the end result, the chimes that rang of beauty and peace and harmony.

      I feel it is equally important to show the hard work in progress, for that is how so many of us will realize we truly are not alone.

      That said, I am also blessed to have a spouse who has shown me his respect for my work, both publicly and personally, by giving me his blessing, so to speak. Before I ever put pen to paper for Digging for the Light, I discussed this with him, and have touched base every step along the way.

      There is always a niggling fear, yes, and I have to trust that I am doing what I can to be as gracious as I can with the information I present… Sometimes I hit the mark and sometimes I miss… And so I grow and learn…

      Thanks, again, for being here and supporting me! I am grateful and honored. 🙂

  2. You are a brave and courageous woman to open yourself up like you did. I applaud you. These life lessons are sometimes difficult to learn and they certainly take time. You are approaching it with such a great attitude and wisdom. After 42 years of marriage, I know what letting go means and it requires a lot of patience.

    1. Thank you, Carol for sharing this journey with me and for being here. 42 years of marriage! Yes, a great deal of patience, indeed…and an even greater amount of love and respect and communication and… 😉

    2. In response to what you said to Carol Cassara in sharing the “whole” story……that is why it took me 10 years to write my memoir. The pain, the memories, all of it that had to be dredged up to tell the whole story was ….well, there isn’t a word to describe it. Once it was written and published and my friends cried and said “Why didn’t you let us know what was going on?” to my sister saying “I feel so awful that I was not there for you when you needed me the most.” It was a choice I made while going through the trauma (s). Keep it all inside, hide it all. In hindsight, I still am not sure if that was a good or a bad idea but I do know that NOW it is a a good idea to reveal it all. Some acquaintances had a difficult time looking at me or my husband for awhile but they got over it. The upside is the most important and far beyond anything I expected and that is this:

      My story has brought hope to so many people who have suffered much — knowing that it is worth it to work through the difficult times with a good attitude and ‘keep the faith, baby’, never give up and be honest.

      That is what you are doing and that is why I applaud you

    1. Hi, Journeyer!

      Thanks for stopping by and leaving this comment! A doable list, indeed, and if you’re like me, you’ll feel your initial reaction and thoughts begin to change and you come back each day to read the list. It’s really quite uncanny!

      How old is your daughter? I am honored that you’re not only here, but you see a real life application. That feeds my happy!

    1. Thank you, Diane! I am pleased to see so many others feel that these reflections are as valuable as I do. 🙂

      Thank you for for your support!

  3. Thank you so much for this honest, informative post! I printed out the list – this is something I need to be working on daily.

    1. Thank you, Lana. I am honored! I have been pleasantly surprised by my own reactions to the daily digestion of those letting go reflections, and equally happy about that so many of you see its merits too! Thanks for being here!

  4. This is amazing! I love this list even though I know I struggle with alot of it. I have been married for 23 years and we all have our hopes and dreams but to be able to live with the failures and disappointments that is what makes a marriage. Any relationship that lasts is always going to have each of these elements, deciding how to deal with all of it is key.

  5. Hi, Rena! Thanks for your enthusiasm for this post! Long marriages do require an awareness and patronage to the reflections on this list. And you’re right, deciding how we’ll incorporate into our relationships often makes all the difference. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Thanks, yet again. When I read that list I of course thought of Ethan, and realized that I had “let go” in appropriate ways, even though the outcome was so much not what I had hoped. Prayers and peace for you on this further journey. As much as we would like to reach a place where we think our story is “written” and we can set back and enjoy it, this is a reminder as well that the book isn’t done while we draw breath, and perhaps not even then. You continue to inspire me, even if you don’t draw tons of fans or a book contract. Thank you.

    1. I think you are in a class of people who understand, at its core, “To let go is to admit powerlessness, which means the outcome is not in my hands.”

      Hard as your road is and will be for some time to come, I am happy that you do know for yourself that you “let go in appropriate ways.”

      Who knows what that “different outcome” might have looked like, Angela, for your, for Ethan, and for everyone who loved him. And though I know that grief specialists and counselors advise against saying such things, I do believe that Ethan is now free from whatever suffering he faced here on Earth AND I believe that he is acknowledging your pain, even as we speak. And, I believe that he believes, as I do, that one day you will be able to celebrate his life, sans this gaping heartache…

      Our lives continue to write their stories, and, yes, I do believe they continue to pen themselves even after we are gone, for we are never truly absent once we’ve left a mark on this universe…

      You are an amazing being, Angela, a neighbor and an ally… Thank you… *BIG HUGS*

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