Good Lord this has been a year! For those with whom I am in close contact, including myself, 2021 has been the year of letting go, letting go, and then letting go some more. I can’t speak for others, but at this point, I’m not sure there’s anything left for me to let go.
Let me confirm that letting go does NOT bring on a sensation of peace. Instead, we are left with a great sense of unease. As we stare into what has become an empty vessel, we are struck with three things:
- Grief over what has passed away.
- An anxious desire to fill in those empty spaces.
- Sheer terror over the possibility that the emptiness might be the end of all things (or in my case that everything I have done has been for naught and that I will have to go out and find a “real job.” UGH!).
To grieve is appropriate. As we gaze over what has passed out of our lives and what we have intentionally released, sorrow will come. As will every other face of grief. Bargaining most of all as we reach for those things we’ve released, hoping to find security in returning them to the now empty vessel. What we have let go of, however, cannot return. Instead, we are invited to be present to the sorrow, secure in the hope that something new will come to take its place.
Anxiety is also appropriate. What was known provided a sense of security and surety in our lives. If nothing else, it provided the illusion of security simply because it was known. As we release what is no longer life-giving, or it is torn from our clutching fingers, our first instinct is to call it back. When it cannot be called back, our second instinct is to find something to replace it – even if that something is of our own contriving and may have nothing to do with our highest good. We just want to fill the empty space. The answer to this anxiety is simple: DON’T DO IT! Instead, become comfortable with the anxiety. UGH!
Emptiness is a kind of death. What we have known has come to an end and the new has not yet come into form. Despite our attempts at seeking out or even forcing the new, the new will only arrive in the hands of Divine Timing. Terror comes when we are faced with this level of unknown. With this there is literally nothing we can do but stare into the face of the unknown and FEEL its terror.
This is where we find ourselves at the end of 2021 – staring in terror into the face of the unknown. It’s ok to feel anxiety and fear. Allowing ourselves to be with this terror is good medicine. The more we allow ourselves to be with the terror of the unknown and sit in its company, the more we discover there’s really nothing to fear. The purpose of terror is to remind us of the illusion of control – likely the final thing we cling to. When we let go of our need to control and the illusion that we ever had any in the first place, then, only then, will we find peace.
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