“Oh my god,” I thought. “She’s singing it again. Why does she need to keep practicing that song?!”
I was dreaming I was back at school, which is no surprise. This time I was inside a dorm room with some of my high school classmates. They, and my adolescent angst, had followed me to college. I’ve had these dreams before, and just in case I didn’t know why, that famous song from the movie “Frozen” was being belted through the hallways by one of my dorm-mates. “Let it go! Let it go!”
“Oh my god,” I thought. “When will it be over? When will she be done singing that annoying son?!”
When the message sinks in, I realized once I woke beside the satisfied dog who had snuck her way upstairs and onto my bed after my husband had disappeared into the shower.
Least we think it is easy to let go of our stories, we need only look into the mirror to be reminded. If a mirror is not available, or we cannot read the lines our stories imprint for us, we can settle into the weight of our bodies and listen to their moans and groans. Although our cells divide continuously, the new cells are encoded with the memories of the old ones. Sometimes this encoding is a choice.
Before I want to sleep last night, I found myself thinking about how I can hardly remember the two years I struggled with severe IBS more than a decade ago. Those restless nights when I woke to the body’s attempts to expel its painful memories. My digestive system had felt like literal bowels of hell. Bloated with sulfuric gas and knotted in pain. Yet, I can hardly remember those years. I marvel now at the will to hold onto what I no longer wanted. It’s illogical on so many levels, but our cells carry our truths even when we don’t want to hear, see, or feel them. They are the story of us until we rewrite the narrative.
I marveled, also, last night, at how in one night the unconscious aligned with the conscious on a quantum level in its decision to heal and release, finally, what I had struggled to keep. Yet, although my IBS may have vanished in one night, I was reminded once again by my dreams that there are still stories trapped and waiting to be “let go.”
Particularly in my throat. The seat of the voice and our expression of our truths.
I have been struggling these last several days since I watched the choking out of George’s Flyod’s life filmed by helpless bystanders. I have been struggling with irony and injustice, as well as a pervasive feeling of helplessness. I have been struggling with the collective unwillingness to see, hear, and feel truth as I try to come to terms with this unwillingness to “let go” the individual and collective stories to explore beauty and truth beyond the surface.
When I drive to the lake, a place where peace usually washes over me with ease, I find myself troubled by the signs. Passing through rural towns filled with residents struggling to hold onto the middle class sense of security, my eye is drawn too many times to the symbol of irony. Moving through the discomfort of despair, I will my mind to imagine the life inside those doors and why the individuals who reside there are holding onto the notion that the POTUS is their savior.
It took me days, instead of minutes, to remember why my own body struggled for breath when I watched George Flyod’s being extinguished. To remember the white man who used to squeeze the words back into my throat with his hand at the dinner table. It took me nearly two weeks to realize that we all hold the stories of oppression. Even if we are a rare and lucky few to never have experienced the suppression of our own truths, and our voices, our ancestors have. Oppression is so deeply embedded into our collective history that there is no way any of us have escaped its encoding in our cells.
No wonder we are struggling to let go. No wonder we struggle to hold onto what we are used to. The bully reigns upon his mighty throne because we have placed him there. And the bully reigns within because we let him hold the history of our narratives. We have all heard the term “healing begins within,” yet how many of us refuse to look inside and examine the narratives of the self? We may not like what we read inside. We may have the impulse to bring our hand to our ears and shout, “No more! Stop singing that awful song over and over again,” but the narrative repeats until we change it.
The power is not in the holding on, but the letting go. Freedom is the opposite of repression, and ultimately the letting go must begin within.
In my dreams last night, I replayed the narrative of acceptance in the form of my friendships. I was reminded of how much I still struggle, at times, to honor my own boundaries and truths when friends approach me with their own needs. I was reminded that I still carry the narrative of rejection and the fear of being left “friendless,” rejected, and alone.
I find it interesting, or perhaps perfectly fitting, that this dream came to me after a day spent mostly in a state of peace. My body must have remembered lying prone on the ground and feeling the ever-present security of Mother Earth below me. The smell of dirt and crumpled grasses mixing the interconnectedness of all life for me to both witness and be a part of. Yet disbelief must still linger inside the narratives of my cells.
How can it not? We’ve held it so tight for so long. We weave the narrative of oppression and rejection over and over again on large screens that form plays for our eyes, and inside the type-faced print of pages of books, magazines, and newspapers. We’ve read it and watched it so many times and in so many ways inside a world that holds the narrative as truth. Who are we to release it?
Who are we not to?
We must, at some point, let it go and right a new narrative.