June 10, 2012

Letting Go...........

So – is it a “human” thing or an “OCD” thing to struggle with letting go of things?  I don’t mean “stuff” per se – that would obviously indicate a hoarding problem.  But, I do think that people who have OCD struggle with letting go in general, more than the average person.  Letting go of material things, letting go of feelings, letting go of people, etc etc.  Right now I’m definitely aware of my strong aversion to letting go.  Sheesh, sometimes it actually feels like it is almost impossible – like a legitimate problem in my brain.  (Maybe it is part of the genetic glitch that is OCD?)

I’m really struggling to let go of this guy.  I’m still obsessing about him.  I’ve managed to stop most of my compulsions, so I’m sure the obsessing will stop soon.  But, it’s painful.  The NOT BEING ABLE TO LET GO part.  I don’t want to let go!  I still cling to the hope that we can be friends.  He and I had some amazing conversations, he’s amazingly self-aware, and honest, and has integrity, and blah, blah, blah.  The reality is that I didn’t know him THAT well.  But I really wanted to get to know him more!  And – even more importantly – I wanted the control for how this relationship proceeded to be in MY HANDS.  The frustrating part is that this type of behaviour takes all of my empowerment away.  I don’t do this with my other friends!  Heck, I don’t do this with my other male friends!  But when I decide that I like someone – wow – is it hard for me to let go.  I could go on and on with examples of how this manifests in my life, but I’m too tired to get into it.  Suffice it to say – I know logically that I have to just believe that it will all work out for the best.  I have to believe that he sees something special in me too that would make him want to be my friend, and that if he doesn’t – or if there’s some other reason why he can’t be my friend – then that is the way it is meant to be.  But I HATE the words:  “If it’s meant to be, it will be.”  My Mom used to say that to me all the time, and it used to drive me crazy.  I could never really embrace those words. 

Another thing I’ve noticed about me is that it takes me a long time to let go of feelings.  Someone else might get upset and then just move on.  But for me, it seems to take me a lot longer.  And if the feelings are negative feelings, it seems to take forever to let go.  The problem with this is that it then leads to more anxiety (“Why aren’t these feelings going away?”), and even more self-hate (“Other people seem to let go of these feelings so much quicker, what’s wrong with me?”).  I realize that part of the reason it probably takes me longer to let go of disturbing feelings, is because in my family we were taught that negative feelings should be ignored and pushed away.  So it probably takes me a lot longer to even acknowledge them and just FEEL them than the average person.  But wow – lately I’ve been faced with some really difficult feelings relating to my core beliefs and upbringing, and they FEEL SO POWERFUL.  And they feel like they are going to consume me.  And I want them to go away.  Clearly, I am not exactly skillfully practicing the tips that my friend Pema Chodron has imparted on me.   

I had an interaction with my brother today on Facebook.  For those of you who read my blog regularly, you may know that I’m currently not speaking to anyone in my immediate family.  This “self-imposed exile” has been wonderful for me – it has helped me get some distance to deal with some of the major issues I’ve had with my Dad, and it has helped to break some of the very destructive patterns that had developed over several years.  In short, I did it for self-preservation.  I am not the kind of person who wants to alienate myself from my immediate family forever.  But this process has been extremely helpful for me.  And in all honesty, after the exchange with my brother today, I’m not in any rush to make any changes.  The point to this story is, that I handled myself very well.  I remained calm, objective, and true to myself.  I continued to be disciplined.  I worked on what I had to work on.  I went for a run.  In the past I might have crumpled in anxiety and self-doubt.  This time I acknowledged all of the old messages that my brain was screaming at me, and I continued on.  But the MESSAGES WERE SO STRONG!  THE FEELINGS......SO DIFFICULT TO EXPERIENCE. 

I had a good cry to a friend and let it all out.  It felt so good!  I am proud of myself. 

Sometimes the old messages are like hurdles being thrown up on your path to a better self.  And sometimes those hurdles feel like they are ten feet tall.  I’ve felt that way many times in the last few weeks.  And I wonder – will those hurdles ever get smaller and become fewer?  I really hope so. 


  1. Letting go IS really hard. I think when we decide to let go of something, we are admitting that we have no control over it. For someone with OCD, well that is pretty difficult to do. Especially if letting go means that it will not turn out the way we want it to. Hang in there! I'm finding that letting go does get easier with practice. And yes, old messages are like bad habits. Really difficult to get over them.

  2. Sometimes it helps me to say that things might not work out for the best but that I can survive that. Cliches about things being meant to be used to trigger my obsessing big time. Letting go isnt an action that you have to do just right--ther is no way to force yourself to let go. Don't know if that helps! But for myself, working on letting go made things worse.

    1. Yes that really helps!!! I love what you said about "there is not way to force yourself to let go". It's true. It might take me longer than others. All I have control of, is the compulsions. And I totally agree - working on any of these difficult feelings "letting go", "forgiving", etc seem to just make it worse!!!