Today it hit me like a ton of bricks. Permission. The word of my life is permission. Seems I’ve always had an issue with asking for it. I rejected it as a child in many areas of my young life. Things got worse as religion was ramped up; I didn’t like what I was hearing, it didn’t agree with me. I do remember rejecting what I was hearing from an incredibly young age, like around 6 years old. So, nearly 50 years later I’m still sorting through that early childhood programming of what was appropriate for me (a girl in the 70’s & 80’s) and what I was ‘allowed’ to decide and define for myself about my life. We tell our children what they are from a young age. You’re tall, you’re athletic, she’s our artist, he’s our athlete.
We pigeonhole our children and often its not what they learned as much it is what they weren’t allowed to learn that fosters both anxiety and the need to please. The thing is, when you live this way, you’re only as good as your last triumph, your last gift, your last report card, your last pleasing task for them.
Recently, I was introduced to the idea of surrender. This idea allowed me to give myself permission to stop being a pleaser. In all my years, I never saw the word permission that way. I always saw it as a roadblock to what I hoped to do, achieve, and accomplish. I never saw it through the lens of allowing to release the responsibility for others, for their actions, for their problems and for their outcomes.
My father started telling us about his problems when we were incredibly young. When I say young, I mean very, very young – like 4 years old. The combination of religious teachings of honor thy mother and thy father along with this quiet desperate whisper from our parent caused me to have tremendous anxiety. I distinctly recall crying myself to sleep around the age of 7 because I had so many fears about losing my parents – especially my mother — I was making plans for how I would take care of my siblings.
This is the earliest memory I have of my father’s mental illness and his illness got progressively worse through my childhood years. The peak of anxiety was when I was in my late teens and early 20’s, he was homeless moving around from state to state; we were always worried about his welfare and what he was doing that might hurt him, us or others. It just became the noise in the background of my life.
I never saw it as something I could reject. Honor thy father, no matter what.
Today I declare permission! I give myself permission to NOT solve the problems of my father or anyone else in my family that has dragged me into their consequences. Why must I partake in the consequences of your choices? The hospital visits, the court appointments, the save me from myself cries. No more. The overdosing, the suicidal threats (there have been no less than 20) the driving under the influence, the calling of child protective services. No. No. No more. The calls in the wee hours of the night that there’s a 15% chance of survival, the clutching of a hand in a too warm ER room, the tired look in my mother’s eyes because she didn’t give herself the permission, I’m giving myself right now.
I’m done and this feeling is amazing. Its a free-fall of surrender and a sudden burst of energy to realize that I reclaim those parts (once set aside for worry and angst) of life for myself and I proclaim to use those reclaimed parts for creation. Creation of more fun, more joy, more experiences, more fresh air, more laughter, more hugs, more walks in nature, more dreaming, more writing, more smiling.
The only part I won’t give myself permission to leave behind is the humorous parts. The silly get-ups, the crazy comical stories like ‘meet Mr. frying pan’ because life is too short not to hang on to the ridiculous, the zany and the inexplainable. Thank you, Ms. Permission — please meet my friend Ms. Surrender.