The single greatest piece of advice I have ever been given about playing what most folks would consider high stakes poker is also important guidance for living my best life:

Just. Let. It. Go.

It’s amazing to me that the hardest things to let go of are exclusively things that I truly don’t want:

Pain, anger, disappointment, loss, traumatic memories, intrusive thoughts, shame, guilt, embarrassment, humiliation, sadness, depression, and illusions top that list.

Old school guidance from my friends in recovery:

“You know what happens when you turn it over and turn it over but don’t let go? You end up upside down and inside out.”

Truer words were never spoken.

We treat letting go and acceptance as though they are once and for all decisions made from what our minds know to be best. In truth, both are emotional processes that require ongoing adjustments.

I’ve let plenty of things go, only to take them back later. I’ve expressed sadness and anger countless times and when I was done; I subconsciously reeled them back in because they’d been with me so long it seemed scary to release them. I therefore suffered when I could have grieved.

I have battled for control when clearly, I was powerless because I saw powerlessness as unacceptable. I have waged great battles with myself when I could have sought help. I have turned away people who care and deprived them of the joy of supporting me. I have failed to accept the love that I did not believe I deserved.

I have tried to run the show despite enormous evidence that my life is far better when I allow my Higher Power to dictate how I ought to live.

I have come to some very simple truths that serve me well:

  • You can’t let go of an emotional experience without feeling and expressing it.
  • Whatever I choose not to speak will continue to undermine me.
  • Not saying it out loud or writing it down were mind fucks to keep things from being real.
  • The depth of the wound and the degree to which I share my pain with good people determines the readiness with which I release – not my willpower.
  • Avoiding my pain, anger, and fears will always result in them growing and will have many unintended consequences in my life.
  • Letting go requires that I be mindful, that I not judge my feelings, that I experience and express them to good people and that I consciously choose not to continue to carry that which harms and limits me.
  • Powerlessness is liberating once you get to the other side.
  • I can hate something and still accept it.