We’ve all experienced feeling like victims. We’ve all felt like the wounded party. Most of us carry forward resentments from the past. All of these things take space in our hearts and minds that we are paying rent on.
If you are tired of holding onto negative feelings, resentments and hurts, if you are tired of playing the victim, if you just want to free yourself from dragging around the emotional load of it all, there is a way to let go and it’s called gratitude.
The best defence is to have nothing to defend.
You don’t always get the opportunity for face to face closure. Sometimes life doesn’t provide the opportunity to shake hands or hug it out. But simply by choosing to acknowledge within yourself what you’ve learned, how you’ve evolved or what a situation that was painful offered you, you can start to let it go.
I had someone that was a huge part of my existence. Someone whose influence changed the course of my life. In the aftermath of our parting, things got heated, confrontational and angry. For a long time that cloud of negativity shrouded my ability to see all of the positive experiences and blessings that time of my life provided. I became locked in this, and it became the default state that my mind and heart rested in. Emotions can calcify, and before you know it, your stuck in a set of emotions that require constant feeding and reinforcement, but ultimately don’t serve you. Let me tell you, carrying that around is not the greatest place to be, because here is the thing. Even if someone hurt you, or betrayed you, or pissed in your cornflakes - whatever the slight or offence, they were likely doing the best they could in that moment, and even if not, even if they were truly horrible, it’s just not worth the rent you pay to keep those thoughts and remembrances on a slow boil in the back of your head.
In my case, there was so many incredible experiences, so much discovery and fun, so much creativity and expression, that I just don’t want to center on the negative anymore. I thought I’d share how I expressed my gratitude, and how it made me feel afterwards. So here goes:
This is my gratitude letter. It’s not addressed to anyone, I wrote it to myself, but I’m releasing it to the universe in the spirit of healing and peace.
Thank you for introducing me to Europe, castles from past lives, scooters with wooden license plates. Pivo, aggressive eye contact cheers, people who beat people with table legs, countless backyard bbqs with questionable meats from Lido.
Thanks for mushrooming. Twig gathering, coal hauling. Thanks for choking on unknown chemicals we burned from that rail way tie we stole in the middle of the night that accidentally dropped on your hand. Thanks for introducing me to a revolving band of weird and wonderful characters. Thanks for expanding my imagination and my world view. Thanks for all of the late night conversations about my life and yours. Thanks for letting me feel like the smart one in those first few early years. I shared what I knew about the wider world and felt genuinely loved by you for it.
When we started working together creatively, I can honestly say that I don’t know where you stopped and I started. We fought each over over the smallest details, but we cared. We cared enough to spend endless hours working, dreaming and believing. We did this in very close quarters, and I know it tested both of us.
We were so fucking young. Do you remember any of the dreams we would share? Do you remember those late night, winter jogs from the cottage. Something kept me going. I hate running. We had nothing but dreams then. Thank you for helping me hold a belief in something so far beyond the current reality.
There are so many other things to say thank you for. I helped you learn English. You helped me learn how to capture beauty from behind a lens. You made me feel proud, you have kicked my ass when the deadline for a post was looming. Thank you for parting ways when we did, we both needed to find a new path and way forward. Thank you for being my teacher, sparing partner and friend. Thanks for the highs and lows, the good and bad, the tears and the laughter. Thanks for sharing the belief with me in something that seemed so far away and then stepping into the reality together.
That’s the letter I wrote. Again, the point is not to send it, or share it, but that you offer up your thanks, acknowledging your gratitude, and through opening to the positive, let the whole thing go with a whisper and not a shout.
When you work on this, and recognize that in turmoil there are lessons, learnings and gifts, expressing thanks for the other side of the coin can be incredibly liberating. The weight lifts, but perhaps most importantly, it opens up the space for what you need to come into your life. Make some room for what you want and need by releasing the past hurts through gratitude. Go ahead, give it a try.
From the heart,
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