Week of March 18, 2012—LIVING AND WRITING IN BETWEEN
Thursday, March 22, 2012—Let It Go
I sat in a meeting yesterday where people were confused and upset, asking questions, getting heated. A couple of friends and I passed notes back and forth and rolled our eyes more than once. (Yes, I roll my eyes. Sorry if that disappoints you! LOL!) All the while my friend, Helen, sat on my right. She never said a word. She kept a slight smile of her face. She kept her eyes on the speaker.
After the meeting, I said, “You went to your happy place again, didn’t you?” Helen smiled and replied, “Yes.” Helen doesn’t get caught up in the drama. She can let things go.
We could all learn a lesson from Helen. Why not just smile and let it go? We worry too much, get caught up in the emotions too much, gripe too much, and roll our eyes too much. Sometimes we need to just let it go.
Certainly when we are in a state of living in the in-between, it’s easy to focus on our “in-between-ness” and nothing else. It can become all-consuming.
You may remember from college psychology Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ “Five Stages of Grief.” According to Kubler-Ross everyone experiencing grief goes through the stages in this order: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. Each person experiences these stages differently, and each stage can last different lengths of time for different people. As I recall, you can revert back to a stage through which you’ve already passed, and you can also get stuck in a stage.
Living in the in-between can be a grieving period, too. My agent recently turned down a piece I’d worked hard on. I couldn’t imagine what I would work on next. The in-between time started and so did the grieving period. First, I was shocked and dismayed. There must be a mistake. Did I read that email correctly? (Denial.) Then I was furious. I emailed and sent a text to my mentor. “How could this happen? What was he thinking? I’m pissed.” (Anger.) Then I thought . . . “Maybe if I change this, nip it here, and tuck this in over there . . . maybe that will make the manuscript something he likes.” (Bargaining.) And then I decided I should never write again. After all, I’m wasting paper and ink—my writing is even hurting the environment. Why bother? (Depression.) Then I woke up Sunday and reread the email from my agent. I finally could see all the kind, positive things he said about my writing. Before noon I had a new story idea and started drafting it in my head. I wrote to my mentor and said, “All is well,” and I typed my draft at home that night. (Acceptance.) In other words, I got over it. Normally, I don’t get over things that quickly. But this time—thank goodness—I did.
It’s ok to experience every stage of grief. It’s ok to feel every feeling when you’re living in the in-between. But eventually, we all have to move on. We have to get over it. We have to let it go.