Why Letting Go Gave Me Something to Hold Onto

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I knew I needed to write something today, but there were almost too many ideas rolling around in my head — where picking just one would be difficult.  One that would be worthy of sharing with you.  And that is not how I write — I don’t write because I “need to” — I write when I feel it.  It makes the writing so much easier than trying to fill in the multitude of blanks and delays in hitting the keys on my laptop.  And as an example of the title listed above, I let go.  I let go of forcing words to appear here and instead allowed them to come from within…from a place I can’t describe or get to.  A place I didn’t know existed. And when I do that, the most beautiful things happen.  Things that couldn’t have been imagined before.  I know it sounds a little hokey (yes, that’s a technical term.) but please bear with me.

Growing up, I did not have a lot of control of most things.  Most kids don’t.  But my circumstances were a little different from most kids.  Or at least I thought they were.  In order for you to understand, I have to take you there.  I was seven years old (my brother was five) when my parents called it quits on their marriage.  What I remember is kind of vague, but I recall my dad leaving at night and putting a pillow in his car.  We didn’t have any relatives in town, so I was unsure of where he was going.  Or the bigger question, why. You see, up until that moment, my life seemed pretty normal — we lived in a cul-de-sac, not far from the neighborhood elementary school, where we had friends our age and parents that would look out for us.  There was the West family at the end of the cul-de-sac where we went swimming in the summer.  There were the two girls who lived on one side of us who were much too girly for me.  The Kidder boys lived on the other side of us, and David might have been my favorite.  But my best friend was Gina who lived across the street.  She had a younger brother, Marcus, who was my brother’s age and our parents got along well.  Behind our house was a concrete wall that kept us out of the orange groves, where an old house that looked haunted also sat on the hill.   This is where I grew up riding Big Wheels (my favorite part was throwing that emergency break and watching me skid like I was something special), learned what friendship meant, and believed in possibility.

And in one moment, my life became instantly different.

At the time, my parents still lived close to one another, but it required me to change schools every year after the divorce.  To put this in perspective, there are seven grades in elementary school and by the time I was in 5th grade, I was in my 5th school.  My dad gained custody of me and my brother  but we had regular visits with our mom, that included every other weekend, and a couple of times a week.  Holidays became something to dread because the best gifts on Christmas had to be left behind because the court ordered you to be with the other parent at 10am.  I was nine when my dad remarried and in the next five years, I had two new sisters as well.  My brother had decided he wanted to live with our mom instead.  There was so much change going on and no one ever asked me what I thought.  Until I went into a Judge’s Chambers at the age of 12.  I was tired of the lack of consistency and it was something I secretly craved.By this time, I felt like a toy, being pulled by both ends and stuck somewhere in the middle.  I went nowhere.  And as much as I didn’t like the constant turmoil and inconsistency, I was powerless to change any of it.  Those were my circumstances and once I got into junior high and high school, I had built so thick an exterior that no one could penetrate it.  And the sacrifice I made in doing so, was that although I felt extremely alone, I also kept the disappointments from getting in. And I preferred it that way. Every time I was just beginning to let my guard down, something would happen (out of my control) and my walls would instantly be back in place.  I had so much to say, but no one would listen.  No one to trust.  And so I spoke in other ways — I excelled in the classroom and in athletics.  But never felt comfortable when people acknowledged those successes…maybe it was because I didn’t know how to accept that kind of praise.  For so long, I had felt invisible and alone. I was able to spend the next seven years of school with the same friends.  My emotions were tucked neatly out-of-the-way. I do not blame anyone for the outcome of my first 18 years…in fact, I believe quite the opposite. I would not be who I am without those events occurring.

And when a kid doesn’t feel like she has any choices,she begins to stake claim anywhere they can.  We hold onto whatever we can, even if it doesn’t make sense to, because the unknown always seemed to be worse.  Especially at the beginning.  (Like it is for most of us.)

And thus began the adulthood that would soon follow, designed during childhood that would take years to diminish.  (I can’t say “erase” because it is still there — I just recognize it now.)  There were short spurts of rebellion when I chose to live my life based on my terms, not because someone else had a different opinion. For example, I chose to get married before I graduated from college and finished my last quarter before graduating as a pregnant woman.  Throughout my childhood, I had learned to rely on no one but myself and so I was very independent and strong-willed, even after I got married. (This will probably never be erased.)  I took a vow to never allow my children to experience a divorce, custody hearings, a judge’s chambers, etc and would commit to a marriage that may not have been right, according to someone else’s terms, but I knew it was right for me. I needed a partner.  Someone that would be there and as I could rely on him, he would rely on me.  Something that was going to last longer than a year or two — something that had “forever” written all over it.  We would forge this new world together and although we didn’t have all the answers and life was going to take us places we never dreamed, we would be together.

But I was not someone who believed in what I couldn’t see.

Stuff like that didn’t happen to me.

Faith in the unknown was nothing something I believed in.

It had to be real.  I had to touch it.  I had to see it.  Otherwise, it didn’t exist.  I was baptized in a church when I was 12 years old, but couldn’t tell you that I believed in God.  I sung the songs and read the New Testament, but did not believe that  a “loving God” would exploit me the way I had been.  And the endless question of “what did I do to deserve this?” was never far away.  When you are young, you want to understand and if you don’t, you ask questions.  (Maybe that is why I ask so many questions now.) But because I didn’t believe in God and let’s be honest, I would not have liked his answer anyway, I gave up.  I didn’t believe in magic.  I had not faith — in anyone (on Earth or otherwise). I would create magic for my kids at Christmas time, but because I knew the secret, it never felt “real” to me.  It was fake, make-believe, and phony.  I was trapped in the same illusion every parent succumbs to when it comes to creating excitement for Christmas Day.  Every birthday was celebrated with a party, a cake, and friends.  The boys even got to pick where they held their party — usually it was the bowling alley or the family fun center in town.  (This hasn’t changed much — now that they are in their late teens and early twenties, they still pick to go to Dave & Busters, where there are plenty of video games.)

And that was important to me.

It still is.

Fast forward to five years ago – when our three sons are now relying less on us and we have “settled” into our routine of baseball, school, work, more baseball and I knew I had everything I had every wanted.  I had a family that was loving and caring…one that I had helped to create and mold into what you see before you today.  My goal as a mother was to guide these three baby boys to grow into great young men so that they too would become great fathers someday. (When the time is right — no hurry, boys!) During these twenty-five years, not only have the boys grown, but I have grown too.  I am no longer the woman I once was.  And for so long, I had held onto the sense of control because I wanted to reclaim what I thought I should have had when I was younger.  I was happy.  I loved my life in our town — making new friends; experiencing the change of the seasons; doing a job I believed in; and making time for my family.

I had a pretty good grip on life — there was nothing that was going to happen that I didn’t have a say in.  Nope.  Not on my watch. And if anything tried to sneak its way in, I had every entrance blocked by years of disappointment, lack of choices, and the overwhelming feeling of being powerless.

And then, once again, my life became instantly different.

And I knew, just like I did when I was seven, that my life would never be same again.

It was like the earlier 40+ years were a prequel for what was destined to happen.  But I didn’t believe it.  My ever-processing brain tried to diffuse it, hoping that my life would just go back to the way it was…when I was in control.  For six months, I struggled with the constant denial between believing in something so random, so unheard of, so magical, and years of the “Mr.Spock mentality” of black and white of right and wrong. My outside world was one of reason and logic while my inner soul invoked something quite the opposite.  I refused love that was freely given and hesitated even when actions proved promises made. I feel in love with the journey I was on, and began to fully embrace it.  Understanding it was another issue, however.

And I began to let go.

I let go of the old me.

And, for the first time ever, I welcomed change.

Within a year, I had completely allowed more people to see me — some of them, for the very first time ever.  As I began to loosen the reins a bit and allow things to happen and see them for what they were and what they could be, it was as if I had been blind for so many years and now could see.  In other words, I had surrendered to who I really was and who I had always been, and now it was time to live.  Not only did I realize what I had been missing, but more importantly, what I had not given.  Buried beneath the rubble of a crumbling exterior, was someone who was about to shine and I began to fall in love…with life.  I began to see that the I had been chosen to live this life so that I could tell this story today.  And the walls slowly were coming down, brick by brick.  Instead of putting my hands up to protect myself, I simply rotated my elbows 180 degrees and allowed myself to receive what was showing up in my life — whether it be a person, an experience, simple words, etc.

And I began to live my authentic life.  The life that set me free.  The life that cannot be explained.  The life that is stirred by the unknown.  The life that is full of questions and answers. The life that reeks of purpose.  The life where magic is real.  The life that is passion-led. That life that breeds risk into excitement. The life that birthed my soul.  The life that gives me hope.  The life that exhales dreams. The life that inspires others.  The life that motivates for change. The life that advocates for choices. The life that believes in the unthinkable.  The life that resonates with the impossible.  The life that gives because it can.  The life that will forever bloom.  The life that harvests potential. The life that sparks thoughts into actions. The life that gave me so much more than I ever imagined.

The life that taught me that letting go gave me something more to hold onto.

The life full of faith.

And although my question to God is still the same, “What did I do to deserve a life like this?”, the answer is now quite different.

Michelle A. Homme 2014 ©

 

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