Letting Go Is Hard

The prompt:  Plans blow up in my face. People don’t always do what I want them to do. Things don’t always turn out the way I want.  It’s a lot wiser to just let some things go. Today, write about letting go.

Knitted pink hat2

I hate to let go.  It may be a project, a person, a pet peeve, a passion, or a prized possession.  I hate to forego on any of them.  My mother tells a story of three or four-year old Marsha screaming outside in the front yard.  The neighbor women all came running to see what their little boys had done to hurt the toddler.  My mother ambled out to discover the real problem was that the older neighbor boys were “stealing” crabapples off our tree.  I knew that my mother would soon be making crabapple jelly out of those little gems.  There was no way I wanted to let loose of any of those tempting tart treats.

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This hat wannabe turned out to be a Möbius strip.  I tried to learn to use circular needles.  I had spent three hours untangling the yarn.  That should have been a clue to quit.  Then I knit this Möbius strip that wouldn’t unwrap and turn into a hat.  So I ripped it out and started over.  The yarn was stretched by the time I finished, and the hat was too small.  I never gave up on that skein of yarn.  I gave the completed hat to one of my favorite kids.

I have an entire file cabinet that has sermons my first husband preached thirty years ago.  He’s been gone twenty years.  I have many of my teacher files in another file cabinet.  I’ve been out of the classroom for seventeen years.  Most of the items to which I cling, have no real value.  I will never use them, and may have never used it in the first place, (like history coloring books for fourth graders) but I can’t bear to part with said items.  My husband tried to pry me from them twelve years ago when we moved to this house.  So far he hasn’t been entirely successful.  I might need them some day!

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One author suggested that clinging to possessions has to do with a fear of losing independence.  Material items represent work and have value.  Without them you have to start over and replace them.  This theory does not explain my collections of patterns I neatly organized but haven’t used in 40 years.

letting-go-hands

I fear change, and tend to hold on to relationships as well.   When my first husband and I moved to CA, I told him that was the last time I would move.  It was too hard to break up relationships and move.  It takes years to build trust with people, so when I have built that trust, I hate to give it up.

I am not so clingy to my beliefs, ideas or plans.  If someone else has another plan or idea, I quickly drop mine.  I am possessive, but flexible.

To what do you cling or struggle to let go?  Do you know why you do it?

Author: Marsha

Hi, I'm Marsha Ingrao, author, blogger and retired teacher/consultant. Read more about me here. http://wp.me/P7tP3I-2

40 thoughts on “Letting Go Is Hard”

  1. I relate to many of the feelings you shared. I liked the part about our things representing hard work. I haven’t home schooled for many years and it pains me to get rid of all the books and lessons. It was the hardest, funnest, bravest thing I’ve done and I miss those years very much. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. I read one of our (Nazarene) missionary books this year – title “Live Simply” by Aimee Curtiss. It had an amazing impact on my life – I’m slowly but surely letting go of many of those things that “I might use” someday. Not at all easy!

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  3. Loved the piece (could totally imagine a young Marsha screaming in the yard about crab apples!) and no, I cling to my need not to answer the question of what need I cling to. I’m not letting go! Love the mobius strip and the patterns too. What a journey.

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    1. 🙂 There’s so much more. I’m such a clinger! My grandmother grew up during the GDepression. Her basement was 8,000 cubic feet packed with stuff she couldn’t part with! 🙂 You should see what she brought when she went to live with my Mom at age 80. 🙂

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  4. Oh gosh Marsha – did you write about me? 🙂 I am right in the middle of “clearing out” all the things I really dont need any more (mainly old paper stuff which is more than 20 years old and will NEVER be needed again), but it all needs to be looked at and read first, just in case…….! And so already a new, albeit still small, pile of papers are accumulating. My husband is even worse – nothing, and I mean nothing – must be thrown out, just in case he might need it one day. Broken down fridge? Dryer? (needed in the UK but not here in India), bits and pieces of wood, pipes, paint (long completely dried up) etc. I think you get my picture. But I promised myself to be brutal and clear out. The trouble is, that because of all this so-called ‘junk’ one cannot see nor find the things one really wants. And why did I keep some of those things? Memory???? Maybe – but I am not really sure. But, as you said “letting go is not easy”. What about your book? Any news – let us know, please. Carina

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    1. Hi Carina, Oh, yes! Yes, Yes! I didn’t even start on the stuff my husband stores. He has the garage full except for my file cabinets which of course of the most obnoxious things! We remodeled our house from roof to foundation 12 years ago. Does that begin to tell the story? 🙂 Thanks for asking about my book. It is in the hands of an editor. I haven’t heard from her about it this week. I’m hoping to hear soon, so I can start the sixth rewrite! 🙂 Then I’m ready to go to the next step of publication. 🙂 Marsha 🙂

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  5. I threw out all my old school reports but somehow kept all my work performance appraisals. I wonder what that tells me! I am a hoarder but occasionally I screw up my emotional courage and do a tearful throw out. I still have a lot of my late parents furniture which explains perhaps why we have no room in the house. Last time we moved I had about 185 packing cases IIRC. I think the worst example is a large box of cables and wires that once belonged to old PCs, TVs, Hi-Fis etc. I am sure they are completely useless but I keep them. Just in case.

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    1. haha That brings up another whole list of stuff in my house and garage! Furniture, wires, cables, IRS returns for 40 years! 🙂 Where does it all fit? I have a friend older than I am, and he has a pathway to the bathroom and probably his bedroom. I only know about the bathroom. I have to say I was somewhat shocked that he couldn’t find the bylaws for our organization which he had stored in his garage! 🙂

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  6. When I moved jobs two years ago I had a giant purge and filled the wheelie bin twice. At the end of last year I decided if I hadn’t used the stuff I did save I probably wasn’t going to, so I had another big clean out. There were some things I didn’t want to part with but knew I wouldn’t need so I asked my teacher aide to toss them…which she did gladly while I averted my eyes. End result, I have a lovely tidy and organised classroom. Now I just have to summon the energy and enthusiasm and do the same in my sewing room.

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  7. Great post again …. Marsha. I don’t have any problems with breaking up and moving on – my job have made me do it so many times … and I find is exciting every time I have to breakup – but it’s so hard to leave people behind too, that is the part I have to work on … so I keep in touch with people that I have left, maybe not on a regular basis, but when I have been visiting again – it has been like we never been a part.

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    1. I know that feeling, too. I just hate leaving so much. I was at Sunday School class in CO once when someone talked about how much he was going to miss everyone when he left them. I started crying. He came up to me and said, “I’m the one leaving.” He didn’t have a clue. I’d just left all my friends to move there. 🙂

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  8. As a child my father’s job as an engineer required him to relocate every couple of years. As you can imagine, it was difficult for me in terms of making and keeping friendships, but I tell myself that the upside was that I was exposed to just about every part of the US during my childhood, which was a great education in and of itself. However, I also said that my kids would have but one place where they would grow up, if I could help it, and that’s been the case. I, too, am a hoarder, and it may be partly because things such as books and papers were tangibles I could bring with me, whereas friends had to be left behind.

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    1. They younger you are when something traumatic happens to you the harder it is to overcome. I moved a lot when I was a child, too. AND my dad was an engineer, and from time to time ordered me to purge my room! That was an all day task that generally ended with a few papers going away. 🙂

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      1. My mom took care of the purging, since she was the one who had to oversee the packing, and I was far too disorganized, anyway. It’s provided me with an interesting juxtaposition: an well-rounded knowledge of our nation and its various cultures, but no long-lasting in-depth friendships.

        I’m an introvert by nature, but I don’t know if that’s an acquired characteristic, the result of my childhood, or was simply enhanced by my circumstances.

        Thanks for the thought-provoking post, Marsha.

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  9. You know me Marsha May. I hold on to things. I have papers from Kinder through high school. I have my senior project still. I have poems my husband wrote me when we were dating. I have containers of art supplies that hasn’t been used in a while. I have tons of my kids’ work too. I have all of Bernidean’s History Day projects also. I am also a big fan of keeping my friends for forever. I am still friends with a lot of my elementary school friends. When my work friends move on, I don’t let them move too far. I’m a keeper. LOL!

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  10. I used to be somewhat of a hoarder – not so much anymore & less as time goes by.
    I’ve found that letting go is refreshing & alleviates stress. (Both material things & non-material things)

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    1. I am pretty good at getting rid of clothes. I didn’t used to be, but I remember my grandmother had clothes hanging on all her doors, and in her basement. So I clean out regularly. I organize a lot more than I throw, though! That is the kiss of death. If I organize it, I never use it again! 🙂

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  11. Oh, if you could see my (former) office. It is now a straight up storage room for things like unused ends of wrapping paper, caches and caches of various crafting trinkets and feathers, boxes that may or may not ever be used for mailing parcels, and records of old bills, and business invoices that must have expired that statutes of limitations by now. Oh, and my kitchen has loads of spices and mixed pre-packaged sauces also kept for “the day I will make something new”.
    I’m afraid one day I may be seen on one of those hoarding shows. Fun and funny post. 🙂

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    1. Ouch! you named my fear! My spices are only up to 20 years old. Of all the 10,000 cubic feet of junk or so that my grandmother had when she moved from Indiana to Oregon, she moved her spices – all of them! I can’t tell you how old they were, but my mom tried to talk her out of it! NO WAY was she leaving behind her spices! 🙂 hehehe

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    1. That’s for sure! My mother did such a good job of it. As she aged, when someone visited her, if they liked something, she often gave it to them. By the end of her life, there was little left to give away, and it was fairly easy. Moving also helped. The biggest thing she gave, that touched me, was her piano. She was a piano teacher. When dear friends’ grandchildren wanted to take piano lessons, and used the church piano for practice, she gave them her piano. Since neither my brother nor I play well enough or often enough to need it, I thought it was a brilliant idea. She asked us first, however.

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  12. I finally gave away all my school music files, with the songs I’d collected over many, years, and the children had sung with such enthusiasm. I realised that someone else could find a use for them, and the parting wasn’t so painful then. 🙂

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