Kicking and Screaming

I recently said goodbye to something that had long since run its course. Like bad milk you let sit in the fridge and accidentally drink in a sleepy haze, it continually left a bad taste in my mouth. Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over expecting different results, and I definitely had a case of The Crazies.

In the aftermath, I’m struggling with a host of emotions. I pollute my mind with the play-by-play of the situation until my brain floods with questions, and 1 a.m. has turned into 3 a.m.

Historically, I have not had an easy time letting go. I’m not a person who invests herself in things very often, but when I do, I’m all in. Whether it is in my personal life (family, friends, romantic partners, projects), or my professional life, I find it incredibly difficult to walk away from my emotional investments.

There are three types of letting go: the kind you willingly do, the kind you’re forced to do, and the kind that happens naturally. I would say that I used to typically fall somewhere between “kicking and screaming” and “I’ll die before I let this go.”

I believed that forgiveness was an absolution of sins, and even worse, it meant that I condoned bad behavior. By not forgiving someone, I was sending the message that they couldn’t get away with what they had done to me.

I let regret, disappointment, and anger fester in the recesses of my mind over the years. Unbeknownst to me, they were influencing every thought I had, every decision I made, and every fiber of my existence. By not allowing myself to release these feelings into the ether, I was giving myself the poison that was slowly killing the best parts of me.

It wasn’t until I was well into my journey of self-improvement that I realized forgiveness and letting go weren’t for the other person; no, they were for me. I deserved to free myself from the suffering I was keeping tucked away inside of me. What happens to the other person in life was never up to me, and was always up to them.

That thought was very freeing. I looked back on every hurtful experience I was still holding on to, and slowly began cleaning out my emotional closet. The bullies in school. The boyfriends who wronged me. The friends who were less than friendly. It all came flooding back to me, but I didn’t drown.

For so long I was sure I’d be handing them a “get out of jail free” card; instead, I was the one who would be on the receiving end of it. I learned that the only person holding me to the pain of the past was me. I gave myself the card, and looked to the future.

Letting go is an art form, and I am practicing it every day. I’m beginning to comprehend that bad people do bad things, and good people do bad things. I now know that forgiveness is truly one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself.

I will eventually let go of the Bad Milk Situation. I don’t know if it will be today, tomorrow, or even in a week’s time. I just know that this time I won’t go kicking and screaming.


unnamedJen and Tonic enjoys wearing pants with elastic in the waist, arm wrestling small children, and skinny dipping in her neighbors’ bathtubs when they’re not home. When she’s not seeking therapy for her Xenuphobia (extreme fear of Tom Cruise) she’s curating the world’s most amazing David Hasselhoff fan site.


To check out more of what Jen has to offer please stop by sipsofjenandtonic.com.

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60 thoughts on “Kicking and Screaming

  1. Unforgiveness/holding a grudge is like letting someone live in your head rent free. It will always benefit YOU not the person you forgive. Not forgiving someone will only affect the other person if they care how you feel, but it doesn’t “live” with them.
    These words go along with what you said so beautifully. I feel and have felt exactly the same way. “If I forgive them, then they will think I condone their behavior and I am telling them what they did was ok…AND IT’S NOT!” Forgiveness is difficult for me but I have felt extreme freedom when I have let go of wrongs done to me. (I know…bad grammar)
    Anyway, I hope others see your words and it helps them to understand how freeing it is to let go of toxic people, and situations. I agree 100% with you! And I love the way you talked about the 3 ways we let go… willingly is hard, hard, hard! But it can be even more difficult if the decision is made for you! Then you have had no control…yikes! That is when I feel like kicking and screaming!
    Thanks for sharing….
    🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, even letting go willingly doesn’t feel that great. We know we have to do it, but it’s not something we’d choose if we didn’t have to.

      “Extreme freedom” is an excellent way to put how it feels to forgive and let live. It’s like being shackled, and suddenly being cut free. So glad you’ve experienced that too!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Love that! If you spend so much time looking at the past, how can you enjoy your current situation, or even look forward to the future? I realized I couldn’t change anything that had happened, so it wasn’t worth spending my emotional energy on.

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    • I think it’s not so much as something I do, as something I stop doing. I stop wishing that something hadn’t happened. I stop beating myself up about it. I stop thinking about how the situation is or isn’t affecting the other person.

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  2. Jen I totally get it. I have been there too. My new motto these days is “Roll with it”. I cannot always roll with it of course, but I try to more often than not these days and I do my best to live a little more in the moment. I felt the same as you before about forgiving. I still have a hard time with that one, because I still feel that some things are unforgivable. But like you, I have realized how important it is to move on, and that not forgiving that other person doesn’t really hurt them…it hurts us. As I said moving on. 🙂 I am way more forgiving these days and I am much happier for it. The obsessive thing with the brain working overtime cannot be fixed. I use meditation to help divert myself into pleasant places. 🙂 Great post. So so happy you are writing again. xo

    Liked by 2 people

    • As I’ve gotten to know you better, I really admire how you handle yourself in life. You really do radiate happiness, and it’s because of the way you look at life.

      In regards to unforgivable acts, I think there are some things which we forgive and can be at peace with, and there are other things we let go simply because we have to for our own health. More forgiving that it happened, but not the act itself.

      Thanks for stopping by, Dani 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a great post, Jen. It’s emotional clutter, almost hoarding to hang on to this stuff. It doesn’t affect anyone who doesn’t live inside your head. I am not sure why that’s a hard thing to learn, but it is, and I am glad that you have a blank, empty mind. Wait, that did not come out right at all. Seriously though, you are terrific.

    Liked by 2 people

    • “Emotional clutter”- I really like that. And yes, the only person who suffers is the one who is thinking the thoughts.

      Also, we’re good enough friends that you can admit you think my head is empty.

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  4. I agree with Courtney, it is letting these people live rent-free in your head.

    One of the Sisters in my community is reported to have said “forgiveness is letting go of all hope of a better past in order to give yourself the hope for a better future”.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Good for you, Jen. For me, the practice of letting go (and I use the term “practice” because, like yoga, it is about continual growth) is an extraordinarily freeing act of self-love. I hope you discover the same lightness. Much love!

    Liked by 2 people

    • It definitely is something that needs to be practiced. Even if you do it once, it doesn’t mean you’re suddenly able to do it at ease with every situation. It’s a muscle you need to work on strengthening every day.

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  6. Good for you. I’m glad you were able to let go. I’ve had that realization, too, that carrying grudges only hurts me, but it hasn’t made a lick of difference. I cannot forgive the pedophile or the domestic abuser. I’m not sure I ever will.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. You make an excellent point here by saying forgiveness is one of the greatest gifts you can offer up to yourself. It’s a powerful lesson.
    I’ve said it many times before – we’re all unfinished works; like paintings with only part of the color. You’ll get there, dear. I admire your positive outlook & ability to pass on these words of wisdom.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. “slowly began cleaning out my emotional closet”—Loved that phrase.

    You’re right–the letting go and forgiving is for us, not the other person. Otherwise resentment festers inside us. No one needs that. Life is harsh enough.

    Liked by 3 people

    • This is something I didn’t include in the post, but it’s such a good point. I used to think that it was a sign of weakness to forgive someone, as though I didn’t have enough resolve. The truth is, it takes a great amount of strength to know it’s time to walk away.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. If only forgiveness was easy. I’m so exhausted just trying to get through each day, the thought of attempting to forgive on top of that is just overwhelming. I know it would be better to do so – I’m just not sure how to do so.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, Jana, I can definitely relate to that. For so long I was just trying to keep my head above water. Forgiveness and letting go don’t have timeline sso it isn’t out of the question for you. Just do the best you can, and remember that you’re the most important person in your life, and you’ll get there.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Great write, Jen. I’m not a letter-goer either. There’s a stray pumpkin vine that sits in one of my flower beds. It popped up out of nowhere one day and I let it stay. Clearly, it doesn’t belong there, but I can’t make myself yank it out–I water it, weed around it and try to contain it from the rest of my flowers. Now it’s invaded the whole bed and looks hideous.
    Great metaphor for a couple of people who have long left, but still take up emotional space in my brain. I’ve done the forgiveness part, but just can’t seem to forget.
    Your note is a great reminder and a rare insight into you. I loved it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can totally relate. I let spiders stay in my house because I justify their existence there: “We built on their land” or “It’s so cold outside!” Pretty soon I have an entire colony of spiders who have heard they have access to free room and board.

      It is definitely taking up space in ourselves that could be used for other things which might actually make us happy. When you think of it like that, it’s almost silly to hold on to stuff.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Jen, I love your writing because everything you say is relatable. These things — these struggles — make you human. And you are a good human at that. Thanks for your honesty and for sharing something that others can learn from. You are absolutely right about forgiveness, and sometimes with people like us (I’m also a kicker and screamer), we tend to feel it all. On the other end of the spectrum, because we feel it all, we get to feel happiness, love, joy all on a larger spectrum, too (at least, I’d like to think of it that way). 🙂 Here’s to making your way to the other end of the spectrum!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your kind words. That means a lot coming from you 🙂

      I often say that I’m not a Highly Sensitive Person, but I am a deep feeling person. As you said, this means I can feel greater joys than most others, but it also means that hurtful things cut me that much more. it drives me bonkers when other people don’t understand how much they’ve hurt me, but I’ve learned that people who don’t experience the way I (and you) do won’t ever really understand. It’s up to me (and you) to pick the pieces back together and move forward.

      Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I find forgiving quite hard – like you said it feels like condoning bad behaviour to me. I somehow need the anger to know I won’t accept it just like that. Of course accepting and forgiving aren’t the same thing… And hopefully I will one day fully understand and feel that 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. So true what you say. Letting go has never been my strong point either. I used to think that being stoic and not giving up/hanging on/re-living the memories was the right thing to do. After reading your post, I’ve just realised that actually, it is a form of weakness. Strength is letting go and moving on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can totally relate to that. I really felt there was some badge of honor in hanging on to it to prove a point. The only point I proved is that I can stir the emotional pot for over a decade. Not exactly what I was aiming for. Strength is being able to say, “Hey, you did that to me, and I can still be an awesome and happy person.”

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  14. Life is far too short to hold grudges. Letting go most certainly helps you move forward in every aspect of life. I think we hold onto things, when we aren’t positive what is coming out way in the future. Letting go prepares us for our next great adventure! Great write, I really enjoyed this!

    Liked by 1 person

    • ” I think we hold onto things, when we aren’t positive what is coming out way in the future. Letting go prepares us for our next great adventure!” I love this, it’s so true. Sometimes we get so comfortable living at a level of misery, we don’t know how to let go.

      Onwards and upwards, always.

      Like

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