Letting Go Is Not ‘Forever Gone’

Letting Go Is Not ‘Forever Gone’

“Letting go” is a constant theme with Parkinson’s disease. What used to be easy is now challenging. Gone are my days of hiking for miles or spending hours in the gardens digging, hauling, lifting. Those times when 24 hours of project immersion got me through complex problem-solving and four college diplomas are over. I can’t do it the same way anymore. Giving up these expectations of myself has not been easy, and the process of letting go always presents itself at sanctuary’s door. It is never entirely gone.

Psychology Today columnist Judith Sills, PhD, explains that we tend to get stuck in our past, but by letting go we can move forward. “It’s an axiom of psychology that we are some recombination of all of our yesterdays. To move forward wisely, we are therefore often urged to look back. But there’s a point where appreciation and analysis of the past become gum on your psychological shoe. It sticks you in place, impedes forward motion, and, like gum, it doesn’t just disappear on its own. You need to do some scraping.”

American poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” When you can’t let go, you are haunted by the hobgoblin. If you let go and have nothing to replace it, the hobgoblin will rush to fill the void. Sanctuary holds safety and sacredness in place of the void allowing the possibility of well-being to unfold.

Letting go is learning to live with the bad things that happen — not by eradicating memory, but by shifting attention and perception. In my quest to let go and accommodate chronic Parkinson’s symptoms, I turn to sanctuary. I know when I am using sanctuary appropriately because I run smack into resistance. It is extremely hard to let go of old habits, old scars, and old voices playing on old tapes. The path of letting go is full of detours and wrong turns. I’m always learning more about how to let go. It is a process, and it’s never done.

Writing on Psych Central, John M. Grohol identifies some key steps in the “letting go” process:

  1. Decide to let it go.
  2. Express your pain — and your responsibility.
  3. Stop being the victim and blaming others.
  4. Focus on the present — the here and now — and joy.
  5. Forgive others and yourself.

Throughout our lives, much of our self-identity is defined by what we do rather than who we are. Strip away the things that we could do, and we feel naked without the career clothes we used to wear. Social conversation often turns to, “What do you do for a living?” I want to reply, “I’m just trying to survive.” People who still see me as the person I was can’t see my struggle with letting go that drains my energy and creates overwhelming fatigue.

Family, friends, and some medical providers often do not fully understand how letting go carves away the substance of identity, whittling it down to a splinter. The following quote sums it up for me: “Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” It results in more loss thrown on a plate already overflowing with dead bones.

Letting go occurs for me on many levels, affecting my sensations, emotions, thoughts, and pain. Sanctuary is not merely a place to “feel good.” It gives me the strength and calmness to face my demons, mourn losses, move forward into the future, and find peace with myself and those around me. Letting go is not losing entire memories even when they’re interwoven with the hard times. Letting go is not forever gone. It remains at sanctuary’s door opening the possibility of well-being.



Note: Parkinson’s News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Parkinson’s News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to Parkinson’s disease.

I am a retired professor and research scientist along with being an artist, philosopher, writer, therapist and mystic. I am also a husband, father, grandfather, master gardener and Vietnam Vet. All of these roles influence how PD interacts with my life’s journey.
I am a retired professor and research scientist along with being an artist, philosopher, writer, therapist and mystic. I am also a husband, father, grandfather, master gardener and Vietnam Vet. All of these roles influence how PD interacts with my life’s journey.
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  1. Peter Foley says:

    Thanks for the column ‘Letting Go is Not Forever Gone’, it struck a cord with me, one I had been wrestling with and not able to condense into words. Any chance you can keep expanding on the theme? I’m sure you’re constrained to a relatively short word count here and I’d really like to read more. Your column helped me.

      • Dr. C says:

        Thank you, Rosemary, for your insight on the article that resonates with PD partners. My wife and I work as a team in producing the columns with her input as the partner of a PD husband. Whatever it is that PD gives to me, gives to her as well. I appreciate you reading the columns and hope that future columns help both of you in your life journey.
        Dr. C.

    • Dr. C says:

      Thank you Peter for the support and kind words that the column is helping you with your journey. The columns do have a word count but I continue the thoughts, ideas, contemplation and suggestions forward on new columns. I am honored that you feel I have put into words the feelings that you have, and that we share. Please feel free to make suggestions for topics that I can address as we travel the journey together.
      Dr. C.

  2. Dr. B says:

    Thank you Dr. C. What a sincere down to earth piece of writing on our journeys with PD. ‘Letting Go’ sounds so simple but so complicated to implement as you have so eloquently expressed. Your message resonates on so many levels with me. Somedays, I take my PD as an existential experience while I reflect on the different changes in my body. I am staying firm by refusing to take medications to control my symptoms. My decisions are supported by my family and especially my husband. It is not easy for them. Thank you again 🙂

    • Dr. C says:

      Hi Dr. B ~ You are the first person to comment that they think of PD as an existential experience! I think of it the same way, that PD is an experience in existing, looking at the possibilities that exist and doing that every day. I congratulate you and look forward to hearing more of your thoughts. Thanks for reading my columns and finding meaning in my thoughts.
      Dr. C.

  3. valerie Lorenz says:

    I am I the early stages of,PD plus atriel fibrilation, in my late eighties. I fear the slow deterioration with this non terminal illness, both for myself and my loved onesI’m afraid of botching an early departure, and also,of leaving it too late to say ‘enough is enough”
    how many PD people,feel,like. myself?

    • Dr. C says:

      Dear Valerie, Thanks for your comment. I have several columns dealing with the loss from the “PD Thief” and would encourage you to read those. I do commend you for achieving your “late 80’s” status — that is a significant accomplishment with or without medical issues. Congratulations to you! I don’t think I can answer your question about how many PD patients feel the same as you. I don’t have any research information on that question. I appreciate your reading my columns and hope that they can provide some insight or camaraderie as we face life’s challenges.
      Dr. C.

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