February 2, 2023

Pinoy Trekker

Pinoy Trekker – We go anywhere

How I reframed letting go so I can move on from my painful past

We are truly free when we let go of hope that the past could or should have been different than it was. This is so difficult.

Challenge arises from our desperate need to validate our feelings and experiences. It often feels like we are devaluing ourselves when we let go of hope that the past should have been different. We’ve been through hell, experienced things most people don’t know about, and at first it feels so devastating to think about just letting it go like it never happened. Where’s the justice in that?

I know; I was there. Honestly, I still have moments where I pick that thought up and carry it around for a while because it just feels like the right thing to do. To honor myself and my experiences, I must stay connected to the unfairness of the choices others have made – choices that have dramatically impacted my life and caused immense pain.

After nearly nineteen years of marriage, my husband, my high school sweetheart, told me he was gay and had never been attracted to me.

I promise; i know pain I spent weeks wrestling with myself, trying to think of all the things that could have happened or maybe should have happened to avoid the situation that caused me so much pain.

Things like wishing I had watched the red flags on our date, listening to my therapists over the years trying to get me to work on the issues between my husband and I, and wishing I had never met or he would have been honest with me (which would have been best for both of us as I’m sure lying hurt him too). So many things I’d like to change. It seemed insurmountable at times.

For months I didn’t even want to think about accepting my reality. That felt like the most debilitating thing I could do. I wouldn’t wish the rejection I’ve experienced throughout my marriage on anyone.

Was I surprised when my ex husband told me he was gay? That’s hard to answer. I knew something was wrong. I knew I felt crazy and invisible and ugly. The number of nights I went to bed in tears because I was invisible to the man I married was too many to count.

Now that I can finally live in truth, how do I move forward? There’s a twenty year mountain of grief I’m pinning Personally, I find this reality the worst: Other people’s decisions can cut us to the core. Others can hurt us, and the only way to lead a healthy, fulfilling life is to connect with other people.

I can’t tell you how many nights this reality has kept me awake. I wish more than anything to live on an island all by myself. For years I convinced myself that I could be completely self-sufficient. I earn my own money and take care of my own needs. I don’t want anything to do with being close enough to people to lie, cheat, and hurt me again. I wish this worked. I wish there was a way, but I’m here to tell you there isn’t.

You can go this route; believe me i tried. It only brings more emptiness and pain. The truth is we are hardwired to connect. We are mammals. We must have others to survive. Those who are successful have deep, meaningful, and loving relationships. You feel the greatest highs and the pain of the deepest lows when someone breaks trust. That’s the human experience. Unfortunately, some of us have experienced deeper pain, but what I know for sure is that we are all capable of healing.

I had to redefine what letting go means. It will never mean that my ex-husband’s choices were okay. I will never say the pain was worth it or not that bad. It will never be okay to live in a banged up relationship for twenty years. There will always be days when I feel the pain and mourn the past. Thankfully, those days are getting farther apart, but they’re definitely still happening.

Letting go is feeling the sadness of my reality so I can accept what I can’t change. I can’t change his lies. I can’t change my decisions to believe them. I can’t change the fact that I gave up myself and my needs for the sake of him and our children. I can’t do anything about that.

I can feel the deep, nagging pain and mourn that pain until it stops tormenting me. When I allow myself to sit in those feelings for as long as I need to, I validate myself. I don’t wait for the day when he or anyone else validates my experience.

No one will ever know the true depth of our pain. The days we sat in our closets and cried or quietly cried ourselves to sleep. But we can confirm that for ourselves. We can share our stories so others know they are not alone in their pain.

I know many of you reading this know my pain. Your story may be different, but your pain is not. If you feel like you’re moving forward, please know that the greatest gift you can give yourself is to feel all of your emotions fully. “Go there,” as they say.

You don’t have to do it alone. Allow a therapist, mentor, or trusted friend to sit with you as you feel the depths of all your feelings. On the other side is freedom. I promise. It’s not perfect; My sorrow is not gone forever, but I am free. I’m free of his choices, and I’m free to create a life I didn’t know I could dream for myself while still shackled in his web.

The work is scary, hard and only for the brave and brave. There are so many people here to cheer you on and stand by you while you get the job done. Be brave and start the journey of letting go. You’re worth it.

I heard someone say recently that compassion is the intersection of love and suffering. I feel like I’ve carried the affliction with me for so long and I know my ex has too. My ability to truly let go and be free came when I was able to see my ex’s suffering as well and lovingly let him go.

I met him with compassion. It was’nt easy. Compassion didn’t come quickly, and some days it’s still hard. We both grew up in a culture that values ​​being good and loyal over being happy and seen.

Our tragic story is the product of valuing rules and kindness over love, happiness, and self-expression. I know we’re not the first generation to suffer from this mindset, but I pray we’re the last.

About Janice Holland

Janice Holland is a Ross Institute Licensed Professional Counselor, Supervisor and Certified Trauma Model Therapist. After graduating from NYU in 2009, she has worked in schools, mental hospitals, and private practices to help people take ownership of their stories and curate the lives they are proud of. You can follow her work on Instagram @janicehollandlpc or read her weekly blogs at janiceholland.com

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