Unwinding is tricky business. Knowing I have to let go, and actually letting go, those are two very different things. As it turns out.

I feel like I am unspooling from the inside. But…in a good way. Not always a pleasant way, but definitely a healthy way. I feel like my insides had become that tangled ball of yarn – the one that isn’t really even a ball of yarn, just a big…well, tangle, and it’s all full of the tiny little action figures and army guys that the kids left littered all over the floor, and it really hurt when I stepped on them, so they got swept into the ball, and there’s probably a few dirty socks and single mittens, and maybe a really loud trumpet, and there might even be a few shiny, pretty things in there too, but it’s hard to catch anything but a little glimpse of the glitter buried in all that tangle… That’s what’s buried under the skin, inside my ribs. Right where the pain and panic live.

And that’s what I’m starting to untangle. Strand by strand. Day by day. Moment by moment. Army guy by glittery thing.

Each thing that I find along the way needs to be taken out and examined. Remembered. Analyzed, maybe. And then I have to choose to find a tidy place to put it, if it’s something that is still of use in my day to day life. Or I have to let go of it.

And I’ve always been a bit of a hoarder.

So the letting go is not so easy. But this tangled ball of yearning yarn and trinkets has just gotten progressively heavier over the years, the longer I refused to deal with it, and maybe I’m not as strong as I used to be, because I’m not sure I can carry it anymore. Maybe it’s not about strength. Or maybe the strength is in the letting go.

Maybe the strength is in learning to make clean, clear, open space for the things we actually want, rather than the things we collect by default.

Making that space requires doing the work of letting go. It’s an active process. It’s a conscious process. It is a gentle, mindful, constant process. There are no holidays from the work of letting go. That ball just starts winding itself right back up again.

When it feels like too much, there’s saying, “I can’t do this today,” and there’s being gentle with myself. And staying mindful and present that this is where I’m at, this is how I’m feeling, and I’m choosing to care for myself by being gentle, not by going back to ignoring my big tangle of yarn.

For me, the letting go means writing a little bit, every day. I seem to work my thoughts through that way, maybe better than any other. Whether it’s a computer and keyboard, typing into a document on my phone, or the fountain pen that I love to write with set to the spiral-bound journal that feels so personal and satisfying to write in, getting words out helps me work through my shit. Talking with a trusted girlfriends (I prefer one on one to groups, but both have their moments) can help me see things from a different perspective. My weekly appointments with my psychiatrist definitely have their place in the unspooling. And a whole lot of introspection. A whole lot of thinking – not judgemental bashing, just observational thinking. Seeing patterns is imperative to making different choices.

And more than anything, it is making the choice to stay in it, and not check out. And it is a choice to stay or to go. At any given time. We all check out in different ways – booze, drugs, sleep, sex, shopping, food, cigarettes, Netflix or TV,  work – and when we are in the process of letting go, we have to make the choice, in every moment, to stay with the work of letting go, or escape into the numb.

Anaïs Nin: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom”

It kind of comes down to the journey, in the end. Has your ball of yarn and trinkets become too heavy, so that the weight of carrying it is worse than the pain of untangling it?

Mine has. The time has come. And hallelujah for it.