I’ve been working on my mental health for about two years. As a softy, empathetic artist, watching the news feels overwhelming, so I subscribe to an email service and skip the sensory overload. I know what’s going on in the world, my industry, and my interests within ten minutes. It’s awesome.
A couple of days ago, I skimmed my digest, and an article from Psychology Today called, “Release: When to Let It Go,” by Rick Hanson, Ph.D. grabbed my attention. I felt drawn to it, so I read it.
Here’s some background:
About a year ago, I started having mystery symptoms. The hardest part about being sick with something undiagnosed was the battle with my mind. Because I was having symptoms in my breasts and in my limbs, I could not shake the thought that I had cancer. I did not have cancer. I’ve had all sorts of tests to prove it. I don’t even have cancer symptoms. I just had this idea in my head because I watched my mom’s battle with the disease. I thought that because she lost her battle to it, it was coming to get me next.
I had these terrifying images in my head of my body lying in a casket and this sickness being the end of me. I was scared, but instead of saying I was scared, I went into battle mode. I decided that I was going to fight these negative thoughts head-on, even though deep down I felt like God was saying that “fighting” my thoughts was the wrong move.
I read a couple of “positive thinking” books, and I did the work of trying to overcome my thoughts with more positive thoughts. Every time I had a negative thought, I tried to interrupt it with something positive. Sometimes, I would say positive words out loud, even scripture. Sometimes, I just tried to meditate on a new positive outcome. I was willing to do anything to get my thoughts to turn around. I felt like I was at war with myself.
While I was at war with myself, my spirit was whispering a different story. First of all, I wasn’t dying. This sickness was just something I needed to get through to heal from a lot of pain from the past. I was promised that I would heal physically and emotionally on this journey, but it would take time. It all sounded great, except for the time part.
It’s a year later, and my body is still healing. Am I better than I was when I first started this journey? Absolutely. But I have only “kind of” been diagnosed with a hormonal imbalance and with dehydration (one of the three times I went to the ER.) No major medical diagnosis. No prescriptions. It’s just me, God, therapy, and a holistic practitioner feeding my body what it needs to heal on its own timeline. For a year I’ve been working on my body while battling the same old thoughts. Some days are better than others. I know in my heart that I can’t trust the negative thoughts, but they never magically disappeared like the books said they would.
That brings us to two days ago when I read this article about letting go. It basically summed up all of the things I’d been hearing in my spirit. Instead of fighting my thoughts, I actually needed to surrender the whole situation to the Creator. I needed to release all of it.
Once, on one of my magical walks, I heard that still small voice whisper, “I just want you to trust me and enjoy your life.” Hearing that baffled me. I thought I was trusting. I was out here walking, talking, and learning. I was doing what I felt like the voice was telling me to do with my life. What was I doing wrong? The issue wasn’t what I was doing per se, it was what I was holding on to that wasn’t mine to hold. I wasn’t fully steering the ship, but a finger was still on the wheel in case I needed to take over.
After reading the article, I knew it was time to completely let go of the situation. I needed to let go of my timeline. I needed to let go of the outcome. I needed to let go of the need to be in control of my thoughts. So, I grabbed a candle, lit it, and said a prayer.
The moment I opened my mouth, the tears started flowing. I poured out all of my emotions and profusely apologized for my lack of trust. I completely relinquished control for the first time. Once I poured it all out, I blew out the candle and put a lid on it.
The moment I let go, I became aware of two things.
1. I was lighter.
2. I felt afraid.
At that moment I realized my control issues came down to fear. And for the first time in a while, that was okay. I acknowledged the feeling and released the need to fix it.
It’s been two days and my mind has been better than it’s been in a year. My body feels pretty good too. I don’t know how long it will take to feel completely better, but that’s okay. I don’t need to. It finally sank in that real trust is surrender, letting go of the need to know everything and letting go of things having to go my way. I’m already winning because I’ve chosen to live in peace right in the middle. And for the first time in a good while, my life is imperfect, but I’m content.