New Year’s Resolution: Let Go

12 Jan

A year ago, my eldest sister took me and my sisters to visit a psychic in LA as our Christmas gift. I was at the beginning stages of planning my move to Orange County, so the timing was perfect. The psychic told us to come with several questions to ask her, but I had only one: “Am I making the right decision by moving to Orange County?”

She immediately shifted from psychic to counselor: “There are no right or wrong choices.” My response: “Yeah, yeah, I know, but is moving the right decision?”

At the time, I thought I was asking a perfectly reasonable question and I wanted an answer. It’s only in retrospect that I realize how desperate and freaked out I must have sounded. I didn’t ask about health, career, family, kids. I had one hour with her and all I kept asking over and over was whether I was making a mistake by moving.

In the end, she basically said, “Honey, you will be fine. No matter what you choose, you will be fine. But you have some control issues and you’re over-analyzing. Stop thinking and start feeling.” “Okay, I’ll think about what you said.” “NO. Do not think. Just notice how you feel.”

Fast forward one year, things have been relatively smooth. And then one night I had a moment of panic. Like real panic. Stomach in knots, uncontrollable crying, intense fear, flashes of anger.

This is unusual for me. I spend much of my time being rational and somewhat unflappable. Any frustration, unhappiness, or fear I experience usually shows up as an acerbic, highly critical, mildly manipulative, passive aggressive tongue – which allows me to keep deep feelings like panic at bay.

I’ve spent much of my time in Orange County understanding this about myself and trying to curb it for the sake of my relationship. I had been trying so hard. After a day of trying to be the perfect girlfriend (“Yes, you can sleep in until 11am.” “Why don’t we go disc golf today?” “Of course you can play video games while I feed you unhealthy snacks.” “I love it when your friends come over and we play medieval card games together.”), I woke up in the middle of the night and my partner wasn’t there. He wasn’t anywhere in the apartment. And I panicked.

I wasn’t crying because I was scared of being alone. I was crying because I had thought that if I was perfect then I could control his behavior and therefore control my life; I could ensure that I made the right decision. This realization that I had no control over what happened to me made me fall apart that quiet night in OC.

But then I remembered the words of the psychic: I can’t control what happens to me, but I can control how I respond. I have a choice. And I will be just fine.

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5 Responses to “New Year’s Resolution: Let Go”

  1. Clare Flourish January 13, 2012 at 2:29 am #

    Mmm. It is so difficult trusting feelings, but sometimes there are things I cannot work out intellectually but if I sit with it I can find out what I feel.

    And control? Highly intelligent people can keep the illusion that they are in control for a long time, but sooner or later it snaps. And of course you panic. And then you find better ways of being in the World.

    • cil1977 January 16, 2012 at 11:47 am #

      Hi Clare – You’re right that sometimes there are things that you just have to feel and can’t think through. Thank you for the good reminder!

  2. vietnamita January 13, 2012 at 9:22 am #

    thanks for being real, priscilla. i also have similar control issues and issues with thinking and not feeling. i guess it’s not so much about not feeling, but sometimes not trusting what i feel, or respecting it. ultimately, i do trust my body, though, and i believe bodies don’t lie. usually when my stomach is in knots, it’s a sign that something is wrong and/or i don’t feel safe….i remember during the tale end of my stay in OC, after a shitty job, and feeling totally un-anchored, i got into a horrible car accident on the freeway. Luckily it was 1am and no one was on the road (somehow i managed to fall asleep at the wheel. When i woke up i was accelerating and veering close to another car. i over-reacted and swung my wheel in the opposite direction and then started spinning out of control, finally hitting the concrete divider three times with three corners of my car and ended up facing the opposite direction of the way the cars were coming. it was totally scary, but i believe a reflection of how i was living at the time….kind of asleep at the wheel and over-reacting (and over-correcting) in response to other people and to my own fears. I wish I could say that the car accident was a turning point for me, but i just kept going like that for another six months, bouncing around and crashing myself metaphorically in other parts of my life.
    ultimately, i learned that life will teach me my lessons no matter how stubborn i am. the lessons just get harder and harder until i am forced to surrender. only when i’m stripped of whatever it is i cling to, do i finally let go.
    the thing is, i really credit these dark times as the times that shaped who i am, and let me grow stronger. One of my friends told me during one of these dark times, that i was more myself now (in this hard time) than I had ever been before. i think she saw me allowing myself to be real and be vulnerable in a way that she had never seen before, and thus felt closer to me and able to be in true friendship with me. that’s how i feel with you now, as you share yourself with honesty and transparency and a willingness to be vulnerable. you are now more you and it gives all those around you permission to be their own real, wounded, questioning selves too. love you, p. sending hugs.

    • cil1977 January 16, 2012 at 11:54 am #

      Khanh, I have so much love for you and your willingness to be open, vulnerable, and wise with me over and over. Your story and lessons resonate deeply with me…and are helping provide clarity much more quickly than I could get on my own. I have been sitting with your thoughts for a while and will continue to do so, dear friend.

      • vietnamita January 18, 2012 at 12:48 pm #

        i’m so glad my words were helpful. like i said, your honesty gave me permission to be as honest and vulnerable. it’s actually kinda healing for me to remember and reflect on my dark times and in hindsight i see the strength and strangely the freedom i gained from having certain things taken away from me. know that i’m here for you, and available if you ever need to talk.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

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