Tag Archives: letting go

The Other Side of the Couch – Letting Go

Grief

I received the news yesterday that one of my dearest friends, one of those friends that has touched your life in a thousand ways, unexpectedly succumbed to pneumonia.  She had been battling cancer for some time, and she had started on a new kind of chemotherapy.  I knew that she had been struggling with side effects, but the news that she had not survived was both shocking and so very sad.  As I face this grief, I notice that is a familiar experience now – the weight in the chest, the tears that lurk behind the eyes, the feeling that nothing much matters.  I have been here before.

Any loss recapitulates all the other losses – and as we live life longer, those losses indeed pile up.  I believe that one of the lessons that all human beings are called to face is that of how do we let go.  When a loved one has moved beyond us, as will happen if we live long enough, how do we go forward?

Perhaps one way of looking at this is NOT to go forward, but to stay still. The shock of loss is immobilizing at first, and for good reasons.  We are not thinking clearly; our rational mind has been overturned, and we are living in – swimming in – the emotional sea of grief.  I would wish for all space, quiet, support, time.

David Whyte, a poet and author whose work has been very meaningful to me, has written a wonderful book called Consolations.  He chooses 52 words and writes essays on each.  One of his words is Heartbreak.  Below is an excerpt.

David Whyte

HEARTBREAK

“…If heartbreak is inevitable and inescapable, it might be asking us to look for it and make friends with it, to see it as our constant and instructive companion, and even perhaps, in the depth of its impact as well as in its hindsight, to see it as its own reward. Heartbreak asks us not to look for an alternative path, because there is no alternative path. It is a deeper introduction to what we love and have loved, an inescapable and often beautiful question, something or someone who has been with us all along, asking us to be ready for the last letting go.”

‘HEARTBREAK’ Excerpted From CONSOLATIONS:

The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words.

© David Whyte and Many Rivers Press 2015

Now Available http://davidwhyte.stores.yahoo.net/newbook.html

As I think of my friend, and experience the heartbreak that comes with my loss of her, I am asking of myself the opportunity to sit with my heartbreak, to be with it and with her, to remember, to regret, just to be with the precious moments that we did have, to grieve those that we will not have, as I allow that piece of my heart that belonged to her to open, to grieve, and to let go.

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP:

Susan is a communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, and proud native Nashvillian. She has been in private practice for over 30 years. As she says, “I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts.”  Contact Susan at http://www.susanhammondswhite.com

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The Other Side of the Couch – What Is It about “Frozen?”

Frozen 2

I was attending a theater performance some days ago and noticed a young girl sitting in front of me.  She was wearing a very pretty dress and when I commented on it, she looked at me as though I were completely “not with it” and informed me, “I am Anna.”  Now, had she been wearing the Elsa costume I would have caught on much more quickly.  I nonetheless realized that I was in the presence of one of the myriad of young girls (and young boys, for that matter) who have been caught up by the amazing movie “Frozen.”  For those aliens who have completely missed out on this phenomenon, the movie is loosely (very loosely) based on the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale, “The Snow Queen.”  However, in this story, the hero is an anti-hero, the main characters are two sisters, and the final redemption happens as the result of sacrificial love.

Elsa, the snow queen, sings the anthem “Let It Go,” a song that has taken the hearts of young people (and many adults) by storm.  Elsa has tried to hide her power, has been afraid to use it, and finally reaches a point of letting it out or letting it go…also letting go of the restrictions and fears with which she has lived.  Her gift, her power, was considered dangerous by her family and had indeed inadvertently caused harm to her sister.  Elsa herself was afraid of her power, and so, contained it, rejecting her own strength in the process and never learning how to use and control it.

In an article that appeared on June 25, 2014 in the New Yorker Magazine, Maria Konnikova describes an experiment set up by George Bizer and Erika Wells, psychologists at Union College.  They became interested in the “Frozen” phenomenon and decided to ask some questions of “every psychologist’s favorite population: college students.”

“While responses were predictably varied, one theme seemed to resonate: everyone could identify with Elsa. She wasn’t your typical princess.  She wasn’t your typical Disney character.  Born with magical powers that she couldn’t quite control, she meant well but caused harm, both on a personal scale (hurting her sister, repeatedly) and a global one (cursing her kingdom, by mistake). She was flawed—actually flawed, in a way that resulted in real mistakes and real consequences. Everyone could interpret her in a unique way and find that the arc of her story applied directly to them. For some, it was about emotional repression; for others, about gender and identity; for others still, about broader social acceptance and depression. ‘The character identification is the driving force,’ says Wells, whose own research focusses on perception and the visual appeal of film. ‘It’s why people tend to identify with that medium always—it allows them to be put in those roles and experiment through that.’ She recalls the sheer diversity of the students who joined the discussion: a mixture, split evenly between genders, of representatives of the L.G.B.T. community, artists, scientists. ‘Here they were, all so different, and they were talking about how it represents them, not ideally but realistically,’ she told me.”

Elsa has become a symbol in many different ways to many different groups.  The song itself, although it is now driving some parents crazy, allows for an experience of internal letting go, of just being who you are in the moment.  In a society that often values stiff-upper-lip attitudes toward emotions other than joy and happiness, some kind of relief is experienced in just throwing everything to the winds.  Elsa’s salvation ultimately came when she allowed her power out and learned through her sister’s sacrifice to control it for good.

Is there “letting go” that needs to happen in your own life?

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP:

Susan is a communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, and proud native Nashvillian. She has been in private practice for over 30 years. As she says, “I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts.”

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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