" You need to "JUST LET GO MELANIE, JUST LET IT GO"
I am sure that many of you have heard these words before, perhaps you have even said them to yourself. " I need to just let go" How easy is it? Do you just shrug your shoulders and allow that dark cloak that has been hanging around your shoulders like a heavy mantle weighing you down for years to just miraculous fall off; leaving you free to stand up straight and tall and breathe easy?
There is soooo much that comes with the words " Let go" its more than just choosing to let go of an unpleasant memory, a particular person, and event, a traumatic experience, a bad marriage, abuse, it comes with much more insidious tentacles that have attached themselves around that person, that incident, that memory.
Resentment, hatred, bitterness, self-pity, revenge, rage, anger and jealousy, these are just some of those tentacles that wrap themselves around you and cling to you more closely than your own skin.
So really, LETTING GO requires more work and is easier said than done.
The reason I decided to write this is, I find myself in a situation of needing to let go a real biggie for me. I find myself asking the question, "TO LET GO, OR NOT TO LET GO"?
When you make the choice to Let go, you can't take it back, with a " Hey give it back to me, I've changed my mind, I need to hang on to this after all"
Truly Letting Go involves risk, making yourself vulnerable, humble, naked and exposed to new things. When we hang on to a memory that comes with feelings of anger, hate, bitterness and more, we learn to live with it over the years and accommodate it into our lives. We invite it in and tell it to make itself comfortable, lounge on the couch, help itself to whatever is in the refrigerator. We then teach ourselves to co habit with this and develop skills to manage the festering emotions it brings with it.
Any suggestion at removing it, kicking it out the door and telling it, it is no longer welcome is horrifying, " Oooh, I couldn't possibly do that, look how comfortable it is "
When you let go you will need to develop new habits and skills and replace the space within you where it has resided for so long, so comfortably with something new and good.
But, we are afraid of the new, afraid of the void it will leave, afraid of how we will live, function, cope without it, so we rather hang on for dear life, wrapping that dark cloak around our shoulders more tightly, weighing us down and shrouding us in shame, and guilt.
Often the thing that we hang on to and find so hard to Let Go has become our identity.
"Ah, thats Melanie, a victim of murder and abuse, shame!" Our stigma has become our identity, and it is very hard to Let Go of our identity!!
But, is it our true identity?
Many moons ago, a tribe which eludes me now, would punish a person for a crime like a murder by strapping the dead mans body to the person who committed the crime. This person would then have to walk, sleep, work, with this dead body attached to him. As the body decayed and the maggots set in they would begin to cause the man carrying the body to rot and he would slowly die. This was his punishment. But, he had more to contend with than just carrying around a decaying body strapped to him, he would begin to smell putrid, flies would settle on him, he would be sickly and infect other people who came into contact with him, his family would have to live with the knowledge of his slow death and would not be able to do anything to help him for fear of being punished themselves.
I have carried my dead foster father who abused me, strapped very closely to my body. It has infected my family, eroded me, hardened me, infested me, but it never occurred to me, that this man who is dead, could still after so many years have a hold over me from his grave, to Let Go, to untie the straps and allow him to fall to the ground behind me.
When we don't let go, everything that goes with it permeates our lives, the choices we make, the people we love, the kind of people we attract into our lives, our working environment, our attitude. We become irritable, lack empathy, criticize, judge, attack, act defensively, fall into the dark hole of depression and self-pity and slowly we begin to rot bit by bit, day by day, until we notice it only when it is too late and the stink is unbearable.
It occurred to me not so long ago, that the people responsible for setting into motion my years of abuse were the Department of Child Welfare.
When my parents died, I was an orphan and had to be placed into foster care.
In 1975 child abuse was not talked about, if it was, it was hushed and whispered and seldom believed and covered up.
I was placed with a family that firstly were immigrants, they weren't even of my own culture. I was never introduced to them prior to my being taken to them. I had no choice, in fact the general consensus was " Beggars can't be choosers" and "I was a very lucky girl to be given this wonderful foster family to look after me".
I never had my own bedroom, I slept in the lounge. I never had a wardrobe to put my belongings into, my suitcase became my wardrobe. I had no privacy and no sense of safety.
My foster father had not been police checked internationally, as they had just immigrated from England. His police record in South Africa was unblemished, clean as a whistle, but his English police record was not. He had charges against him for suspected abuse, flashing, and interfering with young girls. Thus the reason for immigrating. A fresh new start. I was literally thrown into the lions den, as fresh meat for him to devour.
I was sexually, mentally, physically and emotionally abused from day one.
The Child Welfare did not do check up visits or even ask me if I were okay, happy, safe or if I had any concerns. I tried to tell my grandmother what was happening to me, begging her to take me away but she didn't believe me or rather she chose to bury her head in the sand like an ostrich and pretend it wasn't happening. She took no action.
I was never provided with any grief counseling after my step father shot my mother and then himself in front of me. I was only told that " I needed to be brave" and so I grew up in a home that was abusive, and violent and never given the time to acclimatize to my new surroundings. I had to learn to develop skills to cope and survive in this environment. Skills that no normal child would need to develop.
So, the thought recently occurred to me after all this time that I had the right to sue the Department of Child Welfare for severe Negligence. I felt that I had the right to be compensated especially as I still suffer from the effects of the traumas I have been subjected to.
I contacted my lawyer, as well as a lawyer in South Africa as the first hurdle I would need to jump is the Law of Limitation, it has been 35 years since the death of my parents and being placed into foster care.
This would be a trial on its own.
However, what would it prove, other than justice, will it help me to Let Go more easily? Will the money I receive if any, take all the pain and memories away? Will I feel free?
I would have to stand trial and go through it all over again, trawling through memories, calling witnesses to recount on my behalf, dragging my family into it, wouldn't this be more damaging and sabotage the happiness, safety, and love that I now have? Are we, am I strong enough to dredge up the past, this dead corpse and confront it again? Is this a part of truly Letting Go? For not only are there facts here, but there are all the emotions, the hate, the rage, the bitterness, the need for revenge, all of these emotions are corpses that I need to face and address as part of it.
So no, I think it best, that as they say, To let sleeping dogs lie" but I still have a responsibility to myself to Let Go for it eats at me, niggles at me, taps me on the shoulder and says, " think of how much money you can make" it laughs at me and says " coward, chicken" it feels like a size twelve work boot gets kicked into my stomach every time I think about it and I double over in pain. It hides behind corners and pops out at me and say BOO when I least expect it. It lingers like a bad odor in my subconsciousness, it rapes my dreams and leaves me feeling exhausted.
It is time for me TO LET GO to affirm and believe that, "The Child Welfare, did the best that they knew how at the time ,with the knowledge, skill and resources they had".
It is time for me to let go of the dead disease ridden, rotting corpses that I have carried around like a martyr. Saying, "Hey look at me, you think you've had it bad, well let me tell you.........."
It takes courage to Let Go, commitment, time, patience, love for others and for yourself. It takes work, the grunge kind of work, like when you clean out the oven, you have put on your gloves and scrub, addressing each corpse, each person, one by one and Let them Go. And, wow, the feeling when that oven is clean, the sense of achievement, you feel so proud of the effort that you even want to show others, " Look at my clean oven"
I LET GO, because if I had not been through what I have, I would not be who I am today, and neither would I be able to share my story, or help even just one other person if it weren't for my own trauma, and for that I celebrate. It is a journey of letting go, a journey of discovering your true self and your true identity.
Love Mel xx