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Ignoring Is Not the Same as Letting Go

I really wanted this to be a good underdog story. Well written. Polished. Precise.

But that wouldn’t be giving you an honest look at how things have been for me up until now.

I’ve always felt emotionally and socially inept compared to my peers. Always vying for the approval of others via my intelligence, my words, but never being fully committed to following through on them. Never being fully committed to anything really.

I was always afraid of the worst possible outcomes, even when I could clearly see the finish line. And, if I’m being honest, I was always afraid of success because I felt that would be an indicator of sheer luck rather than will.

I never really believed others when they said they liked me, or even some that said they loved me. It didn’t matter the nature of the relationship, it was something that I could not accept. Not fully. Not truly.

I have a truth that I want to get off my chest here. A truth that I think has held me back for the past 22 years. It’s crazy because even now as I write this, it feels like I’m making it up. But I know I’m not. And having that feeling compounded with the years of disappointment, embarrassment, humiliation, and utter failure doesn’t make it any easier to digest. And certainly not to share.

But I’ve tried ignoring it for as long as I could. Yet there was no bottle, no joint, no love, no accomplishment that could take away the deep pain that I’ve carried with me for so long. But I know I can’t take it with me in the next chapter, not if I want to reach self-actualization.

So here goes.

It started around ten years old. Things were becoming visibly rocky with my parents and my sister was off to college. We’re nine years apart.

I still remember that night when they were fighting so intensely, and I was in the middle of calling my sister when my father came in my room. I looked at him wide-eyed with the phone in my hand and told him that I was calling my sister. He told me nothing was wrong.

And that was the theme of my childhood: Nothing is wrong.

When they separated, and he moved out, my mother became extremely controlling of me. I looked just like my father, so every day just looking at me would bring a rise out of her and I was hurled with insults and explosive anger. She had her moments when she was kind, but they were quite rare. I was a splitting image of the man that she had given her entire life to. How could she really look at me with love?

Throughout the years I would talk to my father about it and he acknowledged it, at one point he even asked me if I wanted him to have full custody and I did. But I chickened out at the last minute because my mother threatened to ruin my reputation with all our family and friends. And as a young child, that scared the hell out of me. I didn’t want our family to hate me. So, I stayed.

And I wish I could express how deeply I will always regret that decision.

She became relentless as the years went on. She controlled where I went, what I did, and told me who I was. When my performance in school was subpar, that was yet another reason to be yelled at not only by her, but also my father.

You see, I wanted to make them proud. Despite the years of continuous abuse, I still wanted them to love me. They were my parents.

But I never told my father how betrayed I felt by the fact that he expected me to perform well in school (and life), when the only thing I wanted to do when I got home was sleep and forget where I was. It was hell — and even that is an understatement. Every single day for almost a decade, I would experience the extreme highs and lows of my mother’s emotions.

My father told me that I needed to change how I was experiencing the situation and to toughen up. So I tried my best.

I closed off most of my feelings. Waited to cry in private. And could not, for the life of me, get close to anyone that I truly loved. I was plagued with jealousy and always vying for the attention of anyone I could get. I never felt good enough, but that was masked with anger. I’m still trying to forgive myself for all those times that I was cold, and outright evil to others. I know in retrospect why I did those things. But it doesn’t make it any more acceptable.

When I was 15 years old, I had had enough. I had fallen in love for the first time with a soul that I will always, always hold deep gratitude for. A soul that expressed this deep love for me that I only dreamed of. But even that wasn’t enough in the face of the abuse.

He was the only person I called that night. That was the last voice I wanted to hear as the heaviness of the sleeping pills slipped in. I still remember how my breath slowed significantly and I could barely stand up, but I just wanted one more minute of his voice.

I laid down that night in bed deciding that that would be the last day of my suffering. No one believed me. I was a disappointment. And a failure in this world. I made as much peace as one could in the light of eternal freedom. I did my best, but I was tired. My soul was tired.

I still remember the dream so vividly. I was floating peacefully underwater. The lake was iced over for winter, so there was no way of getting out. I can still feel the last bits of breath leaving my body. Yet at what seemed like the final moment, my eyes opened wide and I began swimming towards the surface. I felt my fists beating against the hard ice repeatedly. Where this strength came from, I’ll never know. But what I do know is that as soon as I broke through the ice in my dream, I rose up from my bed taking the deepest breath that I have ever taken in my life.

I knew that night that I had saved myself.

And while I wish I could say after that things got significantly better, they didn’t. If anything, they became worse. But I became aware of a facet of myself that would lay dormant until I was ready to bring her forth in my being.

And so, I write this because I feel it’s finally time for me to operate from that place. Operate from the place of unconditional love and resolve. And finally release the bitterness from my past.

But it’s not through ignoring the pain that one is able to operate from that space. It’s not through drinking it away. Smoking it away. Working it away. It’s through acknowledging and accepting that part of your story. And finding a way to transmute that pain into something that can propel you into the person you were always meant to be.

I never wanted to share this story. Especially not like this. I always felt that it was too “woe is me.” But I’m learning to accept that part of my journey. And love me again.

Here’s to letting go through acknowledgement, not ignoring.

I sincerely hope this fills you with the courage to do the same.