I have heard “it needs to be redefined” so many times in the last few months, I could scream. Let me explain. Ever do something you love, lets say bowling, with someone who you really care about, and then you break up, or they die, or some other catastrophic event, and then bowling is dead to you? Or you traveled somewhere with someone, and when they aren’t around anymore, you couldn’t even consider returning, even though you still love the place?
This is where redefining comes in. For me, a metric crap ton of things have been ruined. And I am simply exhausted by the expectation that I’ve placed on myself, that I can’t enjoy stuff anymore, simply because I enjoyed it with someone prior. Its silly, at the end of the day. There’s no reason why I couldn’t continue to do things.
Many of you know my story. I am a widow of two and a half years; my husband and I were together for over 6 years total, so we shared many things in our time together. When he chose to take his own life in April of 2017, I was lost. My life had been completely directed for so many years, I barely knew where to begin. I say “directed” because manipulated, dictated, held hostage, don’t feel genuine to me. In reality, though, they would be the best descriptors. I was manipulated into staying. I. Was. Stuck. I’ll bet that someone is reading this and shaking their head, “yes I know how that feels.” Check out my most recent post on narcissists, if you’d think you might be stuck with one, too.
Long story short, I was diagnosed with PTSD, finally diagnosed with anxiety, and regained the “depression” tag. I was mad as hell! Mad at myself for “allowing” it. I was more mad that I was left here, not only picking up the pieces of our life together in their entirety, but now I had to put my own head back together and find the woman I had never become. Slowly, I’ve been purging things that make me feel less than, and redefining things for myself that I’ve loved, but need to re-embrace.
Well, today, 10/19, is our 5th anniversary.
One of the things that has been in my closet, driving me slowly nuts, at least for the last two and a half years, if not since the day I wore it, was my wedding dress. We had a small ceremony, small, calm reception; it was exactly what we wanted. I had very few friends and had invited literally anyone who I was close with at the time. This dress, as many women will relate, bears an intense amount of weight; emotional, often physical, and in my world, headspace (and closet space). I’ve been talking about doing a “Trash the Dress” photo shoot forever now, but it felt disingenuous. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted. I wanted to value the fact that it wasn’t ALL bad. I wanted to honor the part of myself that was willingly a part of that life. More than anything, I didn’t want to be a gross American who just wastes the most expensive garment I’ll ever own (sorry Gucci). The energy imbued in this dress was overwhelming and I absolutely could not bring myself to do anything with it, except hide it in the back of my closet, while all that negativity and sadness was attached to it.
I came up with the “in between” option; I decided to gather my best girlfriends and do a ritualistic cleanse of my dress. One of the most powerful parts of the process is the mental release, of course. Not just entering icy cold waters of Jordan Creek, splashing the frigid water over my head, and dipping into the water, while the chilly autumn breeze is already nipping at my bare shoulders. Telling all that negative energy to beat it; it serves no purpose to me anymore. With my best girls (not all of them, of course, but close), my strength when I can’t pick myself up, some who have been there for me for years, but have taken on even more critical roles in the last few, some who have just blessed my life for the first time more recently, but have been vital to my success and stability, we cleansed the dress, the moment, the date, of all of the heavy, toxic, unnecessary weight.
I recommend this process to anyone who is struggling; redefine it. How is that negative energy serving you? If it isn’t, stop carrying it around. It’s heavy, isn’t it? Its not necessarily an overnight process. Not everyone can just dip into a frigid creek and have the same symbolic experience. Maybe you haven’t reached that point. This is a finality for me; I’ve worked a long time to get to this point – it didn’t happen overnight. Its been a lot of tears, a lot of thinking, even more beating myself up for things I can’t control. I have given myself the permission to let it go. And I think that everyone deserves that, and some incredible friends too. Stop letting these things control your life. You deserve peace, just like everyone else. Give yourself that grace.
“Grudges are for those who insist that they are owed something; forgiveness, however, is for those who are substantial enough to move on”Criss Jami
Much Love ~ Jess