As this year comes to a close, and I look back over what I’ve learned and accomplished, one theme stands out: Letting Go.  Not that I’m done learning to let go; attachment to people, things, and thoughts has been a struggle for me for many years. But this year, I took control. I sought out skills and teachers. I got help in learning to let go. And it worked! I feel more free, less afraid, more calm, and less anxious. My life is better now than it was at this time last year because I’m practicing the art (and science) of letting go!

At the beginning of 2016, I started an online course on Daily Om called “A Year to Clear What is Holding You Back.”  I did over half of the daily clearing exercises until I felt I was ready to move on. This program focuses on the emotional attachment to stuff, which leads to clutter.  I have an attachment to papers.  There is still a pile of papers on my counter.  Although, the program didn’t help me get rid of my current pile of papers, it did help me get rid of the pile that had been there for years and my attachment to it.  This new pile is because I’ve stopped the 1 minute daily clearing ritual, which I clearly need to begin again!

This year, I also started seeing a therapist.  Deborah has been amazing for me!  I firmly believe that every human should have a therapist.  We all need a person to talk to who doesn’t judge us, who gives us sound advice when we need it, and who is always there (as long as we make an appointment) when we need them.  This seems like an inalienable right!

I started seeing Deborah when I was getting ready to leave for a yoga therapy training and I was becoming so anxious that I wasn’t functioning well and was considering cancelling my non-refundable trip.  I said, “The timing for this trip is terrible.  J is in trouble at school and I’m the only one who can handle him.  My family needs me!”  Deborah said, “I think the timing is perfect.”  I didn’t agree.  But I went.

And she was right.  The timing was perfect!

My family was fine without me for two weeks, which was both bitter and sweet. My husband and J’s teachers were able to get J back on track.  The kids made it to school every day on their own.  Shane provided mostly healthy dinners for the family and was home to help with homework and go to games.  I was glad to know they could handle life without me, but doesn’t that mean I’m unnecessary? Replaceable?  

This was part of my letting go this year.  My family proved that they could handle things without me, but they also made it clear that they preferred having me home.  I was able to let go of some of the things I had been doing for them like waking them up or making sure they were ready on time.  They could do that on their own.  This meant that I had time to meditate and write in my journal in the morning!  This process has helped us all grow!  
I also got to let go of the idea that I’m the only one who can handle J.  Shane did just fine without my input.  He’s a great dad!  His teachers also handled the situation without me.  This meant that I could go to more trainings and know that J would be okay.  It also meant that he’s one step closer to being the independent adult we’d like him to be.
After I returned from my training and saw Deborah for a few sessions, I spoke with her about my phone phobia.  I am trying to build a yoga business, but I struggled to answer the phone when I didn’t recognize the number or when certain people who I felt were unpredictable were calling.  I knew that this was brought on by a particular trauma.  Deborah recommended EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprogramming).  It sounded awful “woo woo” to me, but I was desperate so I told her I’d consider it.
In the meantime, I attended a training in Chicago on using yoga techniques to help people with anxiety. This training was amazing!  The trainer mentioned eye focusing as a technique for calming anxiety.  I asked about the connection to this and EMDR.  She became quite excited and the class discussed EMDR briefly.  Afterwards, another trainee told me about her experience with EMDR and how it helped her social anxiety.  I decided to look into it more and by the time I arrived home a week later, I was ready to try.

 It took Deborah and I three sessions to process this first trauma.  It went quite smoothly!  (I will go into the details of my experience with EMDR in another blog post.)  At first, I still felt nervous when answering the phone, but I was able to make myself do it.  With more time and with positive phone experiences, it became easier and easier.  Now I can answer the phone right away!  I only get anxious when it’s my ex-husband calling, but even that is more manageable.

Since I was able to let go of the trauma that caused my phone anxiety, I decided that I wanted to try an older, more traumatic issue.  I was raped during my freshman year of college at a fraternity party in 1990.  I was 18.  More than 25 years later, this event still seemed to affect me.  Years of talk therapy and healing helped, but that rape was still part of my daily life. I honestly didn’t realize the extent of how much it affected me until after I finished this second round of EMDR.

The second trauma took 4-5 sessions to process. (I am told it usually takes many more sessions.)  I almost didn’t go back after the first session.  It was awful!  I had nightmares and flashbacks worse than before.  I avoided being touched at all.  I felt anxious all the time.  It was almost unmanageable.

After a heart to heart with my husband, I decided to go back for another session.  I had started this round of EMDR for a reason and I couldn’t keep feeling the way I was, so I figured the best thing to do was finish it.  It definitely was!

When I went back, we spent a whole session talking about how I was feeling.  We didn’t do any EMDR that session, but it was part of the process.  This talking helped me immensely.  I needed to talk about all the feelings I thought I had let go of years ago.  I needed to talk about how I was being affected.  And mostly, I needed to hear that it was normal, that it was all part of the process.

When I went to therapy the third time, we started back to EMDR.  I was scared, but I tried to be courageous.  I got frustrated that the feelings I felt in my body didn’t seem to be leaving. (I’ll explain this more in the next blog).  It just seemed to get stuck at my throat and it didn’t completely go away when I left therapy.  I didn’t like it, but it was manageable.  So I went back.

The EMDR worked!  I have now had sex (awesome, mind blowing sex) with my husband many times and I’VE HAD NO FLASHBACKS! None!  Zero! There has been no crying afterwards.  No yucky feelings.  It’s just pleasant and yummy sex with the man I love!  Sex rocks!

So, my therapist Deborah and EMDR helped me to let go of two traumas.  One that was holding me back professionally and one that was holding me back privately!

My life is better than it was a year ago.  I have let go of pain and trauma.  I have let go of control and attachment.  2016, the year of letting go, has brought me closer to the real me.  I am love!

What did you learn in 2016?  What has helped you to get where you are now? My sister shared this poem http://www.elephantjournal.com/2014/02/she-let-go/ about letting go with me today. What can you let go of that’s not serving you today?