In response to today’s Daily Prompt: Simmer , I’ve decided to write about how and why I value “letting go” of painful situations and experiences.
I grew up on the higher end of the middle class spectrum in Queens, New York. My childhood was filled with generally “normal” things: class field trips, curiosity, some bullying/teasing, and excelling academically. It was also filled with not-so-great aspects; a painful relationship with my weight, discord within family, and often feeling that I didn’t quite belong.
Young adulthood brought more difficulty – eating disorders that spanned well over a decade, anxiety, anger, embarrassing break-ups, and sexual and physical assault. The sudden death of my cousin shook me to my core as my anxiety worsened and I became almost obsessed with my own and others’ mortality, my thoughts often plagued with the various ways that I could die.
A few years ago, a relationship that wasn’t right for me prompted an abuse of alcohol that I now recognize as self-medicating. I had not properly dealt with my trauma. I had not asked the tough questions or gotten the help I needed. What made my struggle particularly challenging was my fabulous talent for masking my emotions. My own mother said to me that she only learned a few years ago that I’m as sensitive as I am. In all of her Leo-ness, she wears her heart on her sleeve. If it’s hard for my mother – who’s about as involved and caring as a mom can get – to see me, then it’s pretty much impossible for any other person.
With all of that said, I go back to the title of this post. For those of us who cook, we know that simmering means to prepare something at a temperature just below the boiling state. Simmering breaks down cartilage in bones and thickens soups and stews. It is the difference between fluffy and burnt rice. Simmering is tough preparation.
Few of us have lived a charmed life and I recognize that we all internalize pain and trauma differently. I recognize that these things also manifest in our lives differently. But I learned something extraordinarily powerful a few years ago. I could either live my life as a reactionary response to my pain – or I could simmer in it. I could let the pain break me down but firm me up at the same time. I could feel it, acknowledge it and then…let it go.
Forgiveness is often met with derision from those who conflate it with absolution. But forgiveness is the foundation of gratitude. It’s when we forgive others and mainly ourselves, that we can begin to live a life free of the toxic dumpster fire that is bitterness. I’m not saying it can or even should happen overnight – simmering takes time. But eventually you have to get out of it. Because what lies on the other side is a peace so whole that you wonder why you couldn’t or didn’t try it sooner.
It’s possible to speak truth to power when you say these words:
“[ this person/ place/ situation] hurt me. I will never forget what happened. But I am not going to give the pain teeth. I will not allow it to take up residency in my heart. And I will certainly not allow it to mess with my energy moving forward. I release it. I release [person]. And I’m still here.”
I am not a guru. I am not an expert. I am, however, thrilled to be on this journey. And I want others to be able to feel what I longed to feel for so many years – better.
Peace & Love,