Even though I'm not a Frozen fan (gasp, I know, the horror), I will give it to Elsa. Letting go is one of the greatest things you can do for your mental health...
"Let it go, let it go And I'll rise like the break of dawn That perfect girl is gone Here I stand In the light of day Let the storm rage on
The cold never bothered me anyway!"
Thank you Disney for another (too) catchy, deeper meaning song.
So I used to be one of those people that held on to everything. And I mean, EVERYTHING. Well, everything negative in my life at least. Every fight, every grudge, every criticism, every eye roll, every lingering stare, every negative body language aimed my way, every rumor, every bad grade, and every failure. I held on tight and refused to let go or forgive. It was taxing and tolling and created a plethora of unneeded stress - and I'm sure it contributed to my anxiety and the way it plagues me to this day.
Deep down I knew I couldn't keep being this much of a Scrooge all of the time. I wanted to be one of those people that could roll with the punches and forget and forgive. But I never understood how people did that. I wore my grudges with pride and refused to ever admit that I was wrong. I kept every failure close to my heart to remind me that I wasn't good enough or worth enough to succeed or even continue on in this life. And with every failure of my own, I grew resentment towards those succeeding around me. I became so guarded because of it. I had a hard time making friends and maintaining relationships. I further isolated myself. Because I refused to let go of the all the "wrongs" done to me (whether they actually were or not, or if I inflicted them upon myself) I became such a Negative Nelly and honestly became such a judgmental jerk.
It's a wonder I had the few friends I even did have.
I think it's really hard to be a genuinely good person while holding on tight to emotions of anger and sadness. I would try my hardest to be kind and thoughtful, but looking back I wonder if I did those things to prove to myself that I wasn't so terrible, not because they were the right things to do. I'd get upset if someone didn't react the way I wanted them to when I'd go out of my way to be nice. I vividly remember during my senior year of college, I was "dating" (very loose terminology) a guy a year younger who was turning 21. His birthday was during the time my roommate and I were doing Whole30 - meaning I was following a very strict diet which meant no extra sugar (i.e. chocolate) or alcohol. I wanted to do something nice for him, but nothing over the top because that's what an actual girlfriend would do (because again, neither of us could communicate or express what we needed in an actual relationship and we did the weird kind of dating but not official thing for far too long). So I decided upon making him double-dark-chocolate-whiskey-infused-cupcakes. Super chill right? Like the chill, non-gf, go with the flow, human I was.
I had made the cupcakes before and knew they were delicious. I was proud of myself for being selfless enough to bake something that I couldn't even taste (I literally ran around our townhouse with spoonfuls of batter to get my other roommates to taste test for me to make sure the batter wasn't crap). I spent hours on these things. I baked them perfectly and actually let them cool enough so the frosting wouldn't melt. I counted out 21 extra chocolate chips per cupcake and let maraschino cherries soak in whiskey for added garnishes. I was so proud of them and was honestly excited to give them to him for his first "taste" of legal drinking (see the pun I made there?)
Well, long story short, by the end of the night, he was too drunk to even take a bite of one. Which I should have known was going to happen. But it still made me so angry. I had slaved for hours making sure these cupcakes were perfect, but he didn't seem to care that my feelings were genuinely hurt.
BUT THAT WAS THE PROBLEM!!!
I made his 21st birthday about me and continued to hold that grudge for the rest of the "faux-lationship"...even though I told him continually that I was fine. A night that should have been celebrated ended with me moping around and us falling asleep with our backs to each other.
I know, what a dick move.
I don't know when exactly I stopped carrying that baggage. I'm assuming therapy, but because things have been looking up for the last year, and I've been growing so rapidly, I honestly didn't notice until recently. I don't think there was a specific trick that allowed me to cut the ties that were holding me down. I didn't find a blog with the "five steps to letting go" and follow them to a T. I think it was a combination of reflections and realizations and epiphanies of who I actually want to grow up to be. I've been working so hard to be that girl that every jump I took, I think I left some of that baggage behind.
#judgementfreezone, this is going to sound so petty, but these are things that show me I'm finally letting go and becoming a more genuine human (again, in my opinion).
1) I've stopped thinking so much about my past grievances and grudges and feeling guilt or anger over them. I've released them and no longer hold resentment to those who have hurt me. Now I think about the the present and the future and continue to cultivate the new life I want to live.
2) I haven't looked at the social media accounts of those I felt "wronged" me in the past in at least 6 months, possibly longer - like I don't even remember the last time, which is crazy because I used the be the person that would check in on ex's once a week.
3) I've become much more selfless in my actions. I don't do anything because I know I'll get something in return. I don't keep score in the "chores" I do for any of my relationships. I used to think I truly wanted others (mainly ex-boyfriends) to be happy, but I wanted them to be happy if I was happy too. Now, my heart is capable of actually wanting the best for another human with zero regards for myself.
And four, which is maybe the biggest for me personally because I used to be the most jealous human...
4) I've stopped being jealous of others who are succeeding and I genuinely want those who are kicking ass in the world to continue kicking ass in the world.
I have friends who have started their own blogs - some of which are so successful they get to do paid sponsorship ads and are invited to cover events and are presented with other awesome opportunities. I have friends who are still dancing and post videos of intricate choreography and show events. I have friends who are either photographers or models or both and share the most beautiful images. I have artist friends who create the most incredible work and are actually creating a name for themselves in the art world and are growing massive social media followings. I have friends that have moved out of Shaler and are doing incredible things with their lives and actually seeing the world (seriously, one of my friends recently bought a one way ticket to Paris and Rome and is now officially living in Roma!) And then there's the normal young adult plague of the friends who are getting engaged, married, and buying houses and starting their seemingly perfect little lives.
Old Kelly would have resented all of them and asked the universe "why not me?" I would list reasons why I could be doing all of those things, but every time I'd make excuses - "I have the kids at the studio, I can't even quit that let alone move across the country", "I'm too old to dance again, I've been out of the game for too long", "If I even think about getting in front of a camera, I'll fall back into my ED".
Typing this out, I realize how sorry I am for the girl I used to be. A girl that was so hurt on the inside that she lashed out and let those feelings interfere with how she was in the actual world. And then she judged herself and hated herself for lashing out which would only cause her to become depressed and ironically lash out even more. I know I'm not a terrible human, and I know that I never was, but I am so genuinely grateful to be becoming this new Kelly 2.0. I still have my moments, I am an imperfect human after all, but I sincerely think my experiences with my mental illnesses have given me a second chance in life. My demons knocked me down so low and through therapy, humbled me enough to see life in a new way.
Letting go of my past - the shame, anger, sadness, embarrassment, grudges, etc, has allowed me to live more presently. I'm happier. I am so much more capable of love. I used to have serious anger issues but now I only get mad on occasion (and instead of being angry for days, I'm upset for maybe an hour). I'm still stressed, but definitely less stressed than I used to be. Or at least my stress is from important issues rather than a fight that happened five years ago or because the perfume lady at the mall looked at me weirdly. I feel so much lighter and excited to continue living and I genuinely think that since letting go, I've become a better daughter, sister, friend, partner, mentor, and human.
"I'm never going back
The past is in the past
It's time to see what I can do To test the limits and break through No right, no wrong, no rules for me, I'm free!"
And as cheesy and Disney princess-y as those lyrics are, that's exactly how I feel...