Letting Go and Holding On

The massage therapist held my wrist between her fingers and tapped the muscles in my arm. “Let go…don’t try to hold your arm up…loosen up.” It may come as a surprise, gentle readers, but I sometimes have trouble relaxing and simply being present in my own body. I KNOW. Crazy.

Today was my first massage since before Carlos was born, so there was a good bit of work to do. I spend a lot more time hunched over a laptop these days, and I still have all the old twinges and squonks from a desk job. The therapist started on my right arm, my mouse clicking hand, the one with that ache right down the middle.

After three or four times of her asking me to let go with my arm, I said, “Can you tell me what TO do instead of what not to do? I’m really good at following instructions and living up to the expectations of other people, especially people I barely know.” We laughed. And she switched to guided imagery. I figured out how to let go. For a little while.


I protected that loosey-goosey feeling in my neck all the way home. If I caught myself hunching up my pecs, I stretched them out and sat up straight. Let my spine hold me up.

Until that crashing sound from the kids’ bathroom.

“What happened?”

“Um…Carlos was…” Every explanation begins with “Carlos was…” They were goofing around in the bathroom and knocked “Daddy’s black cup” onto the tile floor. As I picked up the broken pieces and swept up the shards, I tried not to cry. That wasn’t Daddy’s black cup–it was Richard’s coffee mug. I could have put it away into the back of the top shelf of the cabinet, could have held on to it a little tighter. I didn’t hold on and now I’ve got to let it go.

Speaking of cabinets–when I reached for a plate for Vivi’s dinner, the entire cabinet door fell off into my hand. As it hung there by one screw, I could feel my neck tensing back up. I was forgetting how to let go, to not hold the world up with my shoulders. Granted, there was a door falling at my face, but the metaphor wasn’t lost on me. I hollered for G. He came in and helped me set it down.

Letting go, letting go, holding on and letting go. This afternoon’s drumbeat.

G sorted through the stack of mail and handed me two envelopes. A birthday card from my Wesleyan sisters and a note from Big Gay. I slid open the envelope to find another envelope inside, one with my own handwriting on the front. I recognized it immediately as a letter that I had written to Daddy 20 years ago.

He held on to it all these years. Big Gay said he kept it in a special place and read it now and then. She wants me to have it.

I’m not ready to read it yet. I’ll hold on to it for a while. Maybe read it one day when my chest is more open, when I’ve let some things go.


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