Releasing is my 2023 “Word.”
I’ve “released” before or, at least, I’ve tried. I’ve written down what no longer serves me on a tiny slip of paper, folded it up and burnt it in the fire. I’ve even publicly announced what I’m releasing in ceremonies designed to help us release what’s holding us back, and for the moment, I felt a weight off my shoulders.
But it’s still there the next day or the next week or the next time I find myself repeating my familiar habit — the very one I had seen burn to ashes in a fire but had made its way back inside anyway. Now, perhaps, angry with me for trying to rid myself of it, so more determined than ever to stick around. I suppose I should be flattered, that it likes me so.
Either I haven’t yet fully learned its lessons or I just am really, really bad at letting go.
My Mom will die this year, her doctor tells us. He called to tell her she had Stage IV pancreatic cancer that had spread to her liver, her test results leaving no hope for any cure, unable to be stopped by any treatment. Oddly, the first two months after her “six months to live” diagnosis have been her healthiest in years, which has messed with my head. I was prepared to be there — flying in for long visits to help care for her — but I fly in and find her happier and more awake than she’s been at least since she broke her hip just as the pandemic began in early March of 2020. So I welcome this time with my healthier but somehow deathly ill mother, assuming that either the doctor is very, very wrong or having been told, finally, what has been making her feel bad has enabled her to feel better. I think she will live longer than six months, but she is resigned to ready and I believe 2023 will be the year I let go of my mother.
I’m definitely planning to work on letting go of the mother that has taken up residency in my head for as long as I can remember. The voice that tells me not to be a lazy-ass when I want to take a well-deserved break. The voice I carry around who is never satisfied with who I am, the one who feels more comfortable living small, the one who doesn’t feel she deserves to take up space. This year, I will take up space. I will try new things, I will let go of my tightly held reins.
This month, I will let go of my need for wine with every dinner. I didn’t drink growing up. It was seen as a sin, and so even when my high school boyfriend tried everything he could think of to get me to drink, I refused. I was no rule-breaker, and drinking alcohol was against the rules. I was also no fun.
So in college I came to a decision. First, I was going to have sex before I got married (another rule I had been determined not to break). And if I was going to do that, I would have to first be well-fortified with alcohol. Second, I wanted to have fun, and the only way I could figure out how to do that was with a glass of Everclear and Hawaiian Punch. I didn’t like the taste of cheap beer or cheap wine, but I liked trashcan punch and I drank way, way too much of it.
In my 20s I replaced Everclear with whiskey sours and Kir Royale (thank the good lord) and assorted other cocktails. By my 40s I had settled into a routine of a glass of wine (or two) with dinner. And now it’s an ingrained habit it’s hard to stop, even when I want to lose weight or sleep well or just go a night without it. So it’s Dry January for me. I cheated last night and finished off the last of the champagne I had celebrated the end of 2022 with — finding it too hard to let those 4 ounces of nice French champagne go to waste. So, semi-Dry January, it seems?
Release, let go, get into flow … that’s this year’s motto. This month, it’s alcohol I’m letting go, and my need for it. Check back to see if releasing what no longer serves me works better this time around!