This is an excerpt from my journal. Back about 6 years ago during the last year of Ian’s life. Sometimes it is hard for me to read these. The six years Ian and I were together was a period of intense and at times painful learning. One of the things I had to learn, was to let go. I needed to understand that it was not up to me to save him from dying. The pressure I put on myself and our relationship was huge through trying desperately to keep him alive.
It made me angry with him when he didn’t do what I thought he should. At times I was resentful, feeling that he could have tried harder to work through the emotional wounds that had kept him stuck and angry since childhood. The wounds that made him erect barriers to keep people out so he wouldn’t be hurt. This often included me.
When I finally let go, and accepted that it was not my responsibility to save him, that in fact I couldn’t do it anyway, the relief and peace that followed was enormous.
Ian was a remarkable man. He taught me a lot.
From my journal:
“This morning I woke with a sense of dread. This feeling used to be my constant companion and I do not want to re-acquaint myself with it. My armpits stink. It is the smell of anxiety and therefore fear, and it has been happening a lot lately. Something is wrong with the way I am living.
Ian awakes beside me and I sense that he isn’t well. He is rarely well. It is just the degree of un-wellness that changes. I can feel the coil of fear begin to unfold in my solar plexus. My armpits are wet. Do we need to go to the Emergency Dept at the hospital again? He gets up and goes to the toilet to pee and when he comes back into the bedroom, he is breathing quickly, his face drawn and lined. He is not yet fifty, but pain has scored deep furrows in his brow and down his cheeks, and skin that was once taut and smooth hangs loosely and wrinkled on a frame designed to be much larger.
I ask him if he has pain, and he says yes, it came on quickly. He reaches for the morphine ampoule and syringe and every movement is laboured. My heart hurts with the pain of seeing him this way, he was once so full of life and vibrant. I also feel angry. In my minds eye, I can see the large choc vanilla milkshake he consumed with lunch yesterday, the chips and calamari, the ice cream he had before he went to bed , and the cauliflower cheese he had for tea. All of these foods were almost guaranteed to bring on pain, and we have had this conversation over and over and over for six long years, and the pain of fighting for someone’s life who doesn’t want to fight for their own fills me with rage and I have to choke back the angry condemning words that hover on my tongue, wanting to release them so he can share in my pain – as if he hasn’t enough of his own.
We sit in silence together on the side of the bed as he injects himself, waiting for the morphine to flow through his body, bringing with it both blessing and cursing. Sweet release from pain, but the side effects are helping him to die. I feel like I can’t do this any longer – I can see the similarities between him and a client I am trying to save from himself. He also, at some level seems to want to die, and I know that everything I do is not enough. I see that I am destroying myself trying to save people that don’t want to be saved, and I try to accept, again, that there is nothing really that I can do except to just Be. But it is so hard, because I want, I want, I want. We sit there in silence and I gaze out the window at the beauty of nature, at the inexorable cycle of living and dying, of being and then not being, then resurrection in a different form, and I understand that there is nothing that is not God, and that Being is better than doing, and since there is nothing that is not God, then everything is exactly as it should be, and I have nothing to fear.
He tells me he needs to go to an Aboriginal community so he can be close to nature, and I reply that he is in nature – we live on a farm, and that he is still looking outside of himself for healing when it needs to come from within. He tells me that I don’t understand him, and momentarily it hurts, but then I realise that is true, however in some ways I do understand him because he is a reflection of myself, and I of him.
I see the miracles that have happened to him, and his inability to really accept them. I see his fear of letting go, and completely surrendering to life and love, and the fear that keeps him from believing, and therefore keeps him sick. I see his fear of what he will uncover about himself if he really allows this process of self discovery to unfold, and I want to reassure him that he has always been loved, and will always be worthy of love, no matter what, but these are words that are not to be heard yet, because the time is not yet right and his heart is not yet open enough to accept them. I see these things in him, and they are also in myself”
The process of letting go and trusting that everything was unfolding exactly as it should took a long time. I kept trying to fight against reality, trying to make life bend to my will. All that happened was that I suffered. I only stopped suffering when I stopped fighting and surrendered to What Is. Only then did I experience peace and ultimately joy.
Letting go is not about giving up. It is about accepting What Is, deciding on a plan, then taking action without attachment to an end result.