If you need to be graceful in order to live with yourself, if you desire peace and closure this time of year, you have the power to let go.
Enough time has passed that I can talk about it. The business betrayals, the frayed then fried friendship. My yearning, willing heart…a contract so big I was rendered emotionless for three entire days…until finally, finally, I cried out of both fear and anticipation at what such a large paycheck would bring my family.
Confession: I never fully believed it.
As far as business deals went, it was sour. The biggest, gummiest sourball you have ever popped in your mouth. My lips puckered. Scratch that.
My soul puckered.
That first go-round, a narrow scrape with an illegal business, left me barely standing, in the middle of a fervent flare of my autoimmune disease and feeling as used as a tissue hitchhiking along on the bottom of a shoe.
I recovered. Stopped chastising myself, but carried that bitter seed around a while. I let it eat at me as if an ember in my sleeve. Smoldering. Definitely doing damage, but not so much that I couldn’t live with it a while. The bitter seed was a bully and whispered horrible things about me I had long-suspected were true. I was no good. I was completely stupid and naive. The embarrassment would swallow me up if I tried to come back from this very public fall.
I told the voice to go to hell.
Take two. I’m jamming on client work. A feather in the wind writing, tumbling here and there, almost as if propelled by another force. I deliver on time. More than is needed. Extend myself. And then get stiffed for more than half of what I produced…
Stiffed. I know why they use that word. The umbrage turns you wooden.
An absolute refusal to pay amidst a written acknowledgment of goods received!
The check got lost in the mail. Yep, she really said that. Was the second check to go AWOL actually, she claimed. Mail is tricky I guess.
To say I was steamed doesn’t do my complexion justice. I had achieved the look of a mottled, dusky apple. Overripe. With rotten spots of rage. This time the words poured faster into an email. I broke typing records announcing written threats, insults and even though I felt justified at my incense…
…I was appalled at my behavior.
So…I stopped. Rather. I was halted from going any further. By a person who must’ve been moonlighting as a guardian angel. A being I had just met and who, instead of judging me as off-center, took the time to talk with me and listen to my mental kerfuffle.
Schrrech. Emotional brakes applied.
The art of letting go had begun and I let it take me, lift me. Maybe I was exasperated; surely I was swayed to give myself over to peace.
I did as my friend advised and focused on the blessings in my life, what I had learned from these recent situations: I had no control and yet I needed to gift myself with something especially calming during this frustrating time.
I needed to be graceful in order to live with myself. The more horrible I became, the more horrified I was at who I could become. Was that monster lurking inside me the whole time? Grace was my gift to myself.
Remembered I had been released from writing 40+ blogs a month about topics that made me want to stick forks in my eyes. Insurance. Insurance. Insurance. Brainstorm on eleventeen ways to state this insurance topic differently, regurgitate and re-ingest. End my suffering now. What’s the angle on explaining these terms? I. Don’t. Fucking. Care.
Remembered how stressed I was and how the person I had been working with expected free revisions and endless devoted hours to a business she was actively running into the ground. Stretched so thin she couldn’t pay me. She’d admitted she had never written a business plan. Oy.
We are doing okay, trucking along like everyone else in middle suburbia. But, I recalled the real gratitude for my life when goaded by my friend. My business was surging strong, and I was happy. God…I had prayed for this…to finally be happy. In so many areas. Like a little grinning clam in my cozy office.
Still sick as shit. Still. Happier.
My small fee and my (now) gift of writing for her shaky firm seemed such a small sacrifice to make. I even began to feel bad for my ungrateful attitude. Was this the price of the lesson? Less than a thousand dollars earns a business reboot so I can select work that means something to be a part of, so I can defend my right to continue to heal, so I can spend time with my loving family?
A very small invoice.
And don’t get me wrong. I completely and thoroughly communicated my displeasure at not getting paid. But I wasn’t nasty anymore. Instead, I updated my portfolio accordingly, using the 80 or so pieces I had written in two months and I moved on.
Not to forget what she had done…monopolizing two weeks of my life without my permission…lol. But to free myself. I was worth that. You are worth it, too. Your time spent wading around in toxic emotions is wasted. Hop out of that grotto.
I didn’t want to live in the land of clenched fists and words, hotheaded responses and emotionality.
I wanted to keep feeling the joy and all the blessings my fiance, my kids and I had worked for this year. I wanted to keep on celebrating and not find myself so firmly in a hole of fury that I couldn’t come out.
It was my choice how I felt about it.
And then a funny thing happened. I did forgive, because as my friend stated, “Did I think this client really wanted to choose non-payment? Or had they resorted to it out of desperation?” The latter seems to be the obvious scenario, and even if it’s not. Even if they are trying to prove a point by showing they can get away with something I can still assess the cost…my emotions…my serenity, my ability to enjoy my day. What price tag would I slap on those possessions if someone wanted to buy them from me? They are not for sale. So, if I retained this grudge, wasn’t I giving them away?
I lightened inside as I pushed on and focused on rebuilding from scratch for the second time in a year. Two huge clients gone and I was staring at the bottom of an empty glass. Unable to work outside my home due to illness. I had beaten on every door…or so I thought.
One day, in the midst of wallowing in nothingness, enmeshed in the worry we weren’t going to make it financially…I reached out to help another business for free.
Literally, my thought as I replied to a query for assistance was, “Everything must go! Including all my marketing knowledge!” The bigger picture was I wanted to feel good because for weeks I hadn’t been able to. I wanted to feel helpful as if I still had anything left to give. Maybe I was proving something. Maybe I desired to make someone smile and surprise them. Maybe I wanted to surprise me. Likely, it was all of those things. That gesture has since turned into an ongoing job with a compassionate company, whose work and vision I admire and am proud to contribute to and represent. In the meantime, I have made new friends and also have a kickass, custom website due to a work bartering relationship.
But the universe wasn’t done yet.
The amount I was out from the non-payer came in the door, exactly to the penny in the form of an editing job that a friend needed at the last minute.
Letting go also meant diving in deep to find the unbreakable faith everything would be okay.
I don’t regret it. I don’t regret taking back my existence and my purpose. I don’t regret forgiving and releasing an event that could have been so personal. I don’t regret identifying that my ego’s bruises stung and that I perceived I had the right to be untouchable. And I certainly don’t regret curtailing the time I spent in a dim light while waiting for the illumination and the wings of forgiveness to alight.
Letting go is frightening only when you hold the belief you will fall. It’s also why it’s so liberating. Because when you learn you won’t fall, but no, instead you fly(!) you can’t wait to feel so good again.
Years, I have wanted the alleviation and freedom from surrendering pain that was supposed to mean something. What did I think I was losing? That letting go meant I was advocating my abuse and mistreatment was okay? No. You are never stating that…but when you let go, you are professing to the world and all the energy in it that you want to rise again, believe again and have trust in people once more. Don’t forget, you deserve optimism and hope.
So, whether you are striving to put distance between yourself and a historically prickly relative this Thanksgiving, or a Facebook friend on the wrong side of the political table, you can do it. The power of the mind moves us forward into an almost physical realm of serenity and charity: forgiveness.
The bearable lightness of letting go.
Original article appeared at The Good Men Project. Reprinted with permission.