A Lesson in Letting Go

11 Mar
Plaid 50's by CastawayVintage

Once upon a time, I only had one dress.

I was 29 years old and living like a gypsy during the most difficult time of my life.  One of my friends offered me a place to stay; a tiny little bedroom, twin bed, and a small closet where I hung my one dress.  I placed a pair of dress shoes just beneath the dress on the floor and a stack of work clothes up on the shelf.  Having come from a situation of abundance to this spartan existence, that simple dress hanging alone seemed appropriate.

I was grateful for the kindness offered me and I lived there for 2 months before I found a place of my own again, a new closet to populate.

Growing up, I always had lots of wonderful dresses; special occasion dresses, play dresses, new dresses, old dresses.  Even now, I have more dresses than I have closet space for.  But I remember that one dress so well.  Not because it was anything special but because of what it represented.

Being stripped down, layer by layer to a single dress, a single bed, being “single”, this single moment, such awareness of every single breath.

During this time, I spent a weekend in Dallas, Texas helping a friend deliver her baby.  When I came back to my bedroom, the little closet was empty.  The dress and shoes were gone.  I noticed right away.  The urge to panic arose.  Had I now literally lost everything?

It wasn’t so much about losing one little dress but losing my one and only dress.  A microcosm for how I felt about my entire life.  I had lost my new car, my whole big house, the kitchen I loved cooking in, my office tucked into a real high-tech grown-up treehouse.  Most of all, I had lost my husband.  And now… my last dress.

I did not know whether to laugh hysterically or cry.  So I let go.  Most likely I laughed and cried.

My day went on in a sober way and I did not utter a word about the dress.  Later that night, my friend casually mentioned that she let her stepdaughter use my dress and shoes.  She said “I didn’t think you would mind.”

The lack of boundaries in my life were never more obvious.  It had been an illusion to think that my little haven was actually mine, boundaries intact.  A text or call asking, would have been lovely.  A note that it was taken, common courtesy.  I reasoned to myself, are not all us girls in the house the exact same dress size?  Surely there were other dresses available.

Still, no matter.  Sometimes others take your choice away simply because they assume you will be fine with their decision, or they don’t see the importance of respecting boundaries.

I knew that no harm was intended but it had still been a shock.  And to my surprise, I heard myself calmly say “I’m glad the shoes and dress fit her.  She can keep them if she likes.”

With that, I practiced the lesson I had been learning with every breath… I let go.

She did, in fact, keep the dress and shoes and that made me happy.  Trying to contest or explain boundaries often requires much more than a single conversation, it’s a life-long lesson.

Sometimes things get taken from us.  Some things we give away, throw away or just let go of.  We all experience loss in our own way and some losses are more profound than others.  Ultimately, everything changes and embracing change is grace and a gift beyond compare.

Accept that life includes loss and it matters very much, to our quality of life, how we choose to handle loss.  We can do this the easy way by allowing, trusting, accepting and breathing into the pain or we can do it the hard way by resisting, struggling and holding on long past the point of healthy.  I know, easier said than done, but it is a personal choice every time.

My favorite affirmation is “I release, I relax, and I let go.”  Say it, sing it, write it, pray it.

Take a deep breath and remember, one thing’s for sure, “this too shall pass.”

2 Responses to “A Lesson in Letting Go”

  1. maggie March 15, 2012 at 9:04 pm #

    Thank you, Lynn


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