Years ago I was spending the day with my friend Dawn, wandering in and out of stalls at a local Christmas craft sale. It is held at Spruce Meadows which is a local Equestrian show jumping facility. All sorts of events are held here and my youngest daughter held her wedding reception in one of their venues. It is a beautiful location and in the winter it is a perfect spot for a craft sale. Dawn and I like to have lunch and wander through shops throughout the year, catching up on family and such. On this particular occasion we were discussing my oldest daughter and the struggles we were having in our mother/daughter relationship. As Dawn was waiting for a purchase to be wrapped, she picked up a large elastic from the counter and handed it to me. She told me to place it on my left wrist and whenever I began to dwell on my sadness or negative self talk I should snap the rubber band. It is a technique used to break habits, avoid more destructive behaviour, snap yourself back to reality, give yourself a jolt when you start to dwell on negative emotions. There have been many positive and negative articles about the technique but at the time it was new to me. So I laughed, put it on my arm and decided to give it a go.
As with anything I do in life, I often overdo. Quite soon my wrist hurt. I snapped that baby so often I had perma-red skin. I doubt that it helped me control my emotions at a time when I was quite down but it did make me think I needed something a little less painful and a little more positive to remind my self that “this too shall pass” as my mother would often say. I needed something to remind myself that often we just need to move on. Realize there are some things we can’t control. Live in the now. Not the past or the future. Just allow the universe to sort out some of our stuff. I have a few tattoo’s. One extremely large one on my back took months and a lot of money to complete. Near the end of the last session I asked Mandy if she could do a small one on my wrist. It took five minutes and she did it for free but it is my favourite ink. It simply says “Let it go”.
Now, I wish I could say it changed me. Had some sort of a deep and meaningful impact on my life. I magically awoke the next morning a calm and serene wise woman who drifted through life in a peaceful and blissful dreamlike state. Fully zenned out. No longer throwing rocks at the bunnies who were chomping on my flowers all the while yelling like a crazy person as I chased said rabbits down the street. I digress. Anyways… I would be lying. I have issues. Obviously. Just ask my oldest daughter. It goes beyond that though. We all develop habits and systems of protecting our emotions. Right wrong or otherwise we create a safe zone with our thoughts and actions which help us rationalize those same thoughts and actions. Its tough to look life straight in the face. Looking at ourselves through a sort of karmic mirror where past sins and good deeds are praised or punished. Or perhaps just recognizing our true roles in our own reality. That is some painful shit accepting responsibility. It is a whole lot easier to blame others for our own pain. So, I admit the tattoo isn’t a profound statement although it is a rather pretty font. And yet, it serves a purpose.
Usually I forget that I even have tattoo’s. My hubby didn’t like the sleeve look so my arms are clear except for the wrist. Summer is when people notice my ink as my body is less covered. That is when I am reminded. When strangers ask about a particular tat. What does it say? What does it mean? People believe tattoo’s must have deep meaning in order to be seen as “acceptable”. I have tattoo’s on my feet and I hardly ever notice them. Usually I am wearing shoes. But then I think I am just used to seeing my body as it is. The wrist tattoo is also taken for granted most of the time. I must say though that it flashes at me randomly. While brushing my hair in front of a mirror. I catch a glimpse. Washing my hands covid style. Thorough and more thorough from the fingertips to the wrist. While lunching with a friend who will catch a brief flash of what they think is dirt. Then they grab my wrist to look. Or while trying to meditate and calm my racing mind all the while peeking at my hands and legs to see if I am sitting symetrically. Meditating is hard for an ADD mind. All perfectly innocent times when my heart and soul are in a period of homeostasis. Calm. Seemingly rational. These random views of the three little words take me to a different place, without the emotions to jade my thoughts. They help me take stock of myself. I am reminded that I can’t blame the world when things go awry. If I praise myself for my calm then I must have something to do with my crazy as well.
Letting go means different things to all of us. It is a thing nowadays spawning all sorts of self help books. This letting go movement. Let go. Move on. Cut the toxic from your life. Cut people out. I’ve done it. I have had others do it to me. Sometimes it is painful. Sometimes we don’t notice. Or even care. Regardless of what or who we cut out of our life we can never erase the memory of those things. The problem then is our brain. It doesn’t know the difference between reality and thoughts. Reliving a painful memory in our minds causes the same fresh pain. As if the moment just happened. It’s physiological man. I guess it comes down to dwelling on thoughts. Sometimes we derive an odd pleasure from dwelling on a painful experience. Twisted right? But we all do it. There is comfort in licking our wounds. Feeling sorry for ourselves. A synonym for dwell is stay. Then obviously an antonyms is go. Reminds me of a favourite tune by The Clash. Should I Stay or Should I Go. Well I guess the bottom line is this. We have been making the decision our whole lives on what we need to keep in our lives. Usually it is a passive and drawn out action. We move homes. Change jobs. Situations and people are then gradually removed from our lives. Not through animosity or anger but rather through time and effort and convenience. When we get married our single friends don’t fit the same. When we have children our focus is on them. When we move across the country we make new close friends. You can’t haul your whole life around with you. Somethings gotta give. And so our actions or inactions cause life to change and even though we look back fondly to those we used to know, we can’t go back there. It is over. You can’t recreate it. So rather than focusing on those people that wrong us, forever rehashing their sins and wrongs in our personal drama, maybe we need to focus on the ones who love us. Whether it is friends or family, when someone reaches out to you, reach back to them. Letting go doesn’t need to be a calculated action. A class we take to justify punishing others. Life has a way of helping us if we let it. Perhaps we just need to stop overthinking.
One day a grandchild noticed my wrist tattoo. When she asked what it said she went down a whole other train of thought. Mormor (me) must really love the movie Frozen. After all I had the title of the famous song tattooed on my wrist. I certainly couldn’t tell her I did it because at the time it seemed her Mother, my Daughter, didn’t like me much. So now my Grandkids all believe I love this movie. Me, the hater of cartoon movies. I guess it kind of puts things in perspective. I have no control over the thoughts of others. Nor should I make it a thing to change their thoughts. Nor should I dwell on it. It shouldn’t bother me how others perceive the world around them. It is their reality and only they can decide if they should stay or they should go. I learn so much from little kids. My tattoo isn’t profound or deep. It is a song from a movie. Mere words. And yet in a way, a double entendre. I have learned my tattoo may be permanent but the meaning isn’t. I just needed to listen for it. I hope The Clash finally figured it out.