In a recent morning devotional I read a line that hit me between the eyes. It said: Be free in your spirit always…do not waste your time attaching yourself to hurt and pain.

Having been raised in a fear based household which no doubt accounts for my hypochondria and other phobias, I am more frequently attaching myself to the negative rather than to the positive. Even though I know full well that negative thinking causes depression and worse still, all manner of disease, breaking the habit of worry is easier said than done.

But still, I was struck by the word attach…something that denotes clinging and holding onto rather than simple letting go of that which is simply not serving me.

So on a recent road trip with my husband for a much needed get-a-way, I made a secret pact with myself not to bring up one negative thought or on-going family situation that might contribute to my neurosis. Traveling south for an eleven hour journey and out of cell phone contact it would be possible to work this experiment. We would be disconnected from family, work, and pending issues that tend to distract us from life’s joys. I would attempt to be focused on fun and celebration, both easy to achieve being away from the mundane and heading into the adventure of the unknown.

Although my mind occasionally slipped into thoughts of doom and gloom I reminded myself that I wasn’t going to get this “free” time back again nor would I get this very day and place back again.  I could attach to my fears as they crept into my head or not. Reminding myself that fear is nothing more than FALSE EVIDENCE APPEARING REAL I would cancel the thought for the time being and give my spirit a chance to be free.

Breaking habits of attachment is particularly hard for women who have spent so much of their life being involved with others. Time can be better spent enjoying the moment or the process of what we are doing instead of attaching to the hope for destination or peace which, in the end, is almost always unattainable.

9 thoughts on “Unattachment

  1. I recently learned of your writing through a friend. She loaned me a book with the disclaimer: “you are going to love this book, you need this book right now!” Boy was she right. I just finished it, A Year by the Sea thoughts of an unfinished woman. I am still all emotionally raw as it hit home in every aspect of my life right now. It felt so good to be understood as a wife, free spirit, creative woman. I just had to thank you for being so transparent. My husband and I separated 5 months ago and as much as I hope my ending turns out like yours, I am preparing myself for the alternative. I’ve grown a lot during this time, but unfortunately I don’t really know if my husband has. While yours took up yoga & became much more self aware during your time of separation, mine took up dating and has begun a relationship with another woman. Maybe she suits him better, I don’t know but I’m trying to focus on my new present mindset & leave those things I have no control over, to God. At any rate I just wanted to say THANK YOU!!! thank you so so much for helping me rediscover how wonderful April is. I missed her.

  2. Hello Joan,
    This is my first time responding to your blog. I have read your books over the years and found them a great comfort through past marital challenges and now as I enter the “empty nest” phase of my life, I happened to read your newsletter today and then your blog posts. Thank you. The quotes from Thoreau are especially helpful as I embark upon this new phase of my life. So many changes in life recently ~ my career, my kids leaving home, my husband retiring & traveling on his own. I can feel lonely or I can take this opportunity of space and time that life has given me to explore “who am I now?” As I read your blog, I realized I could start my days with a walk along the beach too! (Only 10 minutes away!) I need more exercise and I love being out in nature instead of being in a gym. I’m learning to love and accept myself as I am, warts and all. It feels wonderful after 58 years of trying to make myself “perfect” in order to be loved. I looked myself in the mirror one day and said, “If you didn’t lose another pound, could you still love yourself?” The answer came, “Yes.” What a relief! Now amazingly, I seem to be able to love and accept my husband as he is, warts and all too! It all starts with how I feel about me and how I treat myself is how I treat others.
    I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon and moved to Los Angeles, Calif. 29 years ago. We have wonderful friends here and belong to a 12 step spiritual community of friends that support our marriage and personal growth. I am very grateful.
    So now, as I walk through the archway into the next and newest phase of my journey, I wonder what I will do, how will I “live the life I have imagined”.
    Part of me would like to return to the slower pace and natural beauty of my homeland. I’m also building a private practice here after funds were cut from my school district job. I love what I do and yet
    fear and procrastination seem to get in my way.
    I also love to write and people tell me I should write a book…. All these ideas.
    Any suggestions? Thanks.

  3. somehow I my comment published when I hit return. Argh…

    What I was trying to says was: we are objects, therefor expected to show off our parts for all to see.

  4. I felt sad as I read your bit about searching for a bathing suit. I also get mad when I think about my own issues with showing skin. By all accounts, I’ve been delt a nice shape — one that most people would want to flaunt.

    But I have never been able to reconcile why men can where shorts and shirts in the surf, but women are religated to showing every unflattering part of their bodies.

    Our so called bathing suits show all our cellulite, the hair in our pubic areas, the stuble under our arms, our flabby wings etc… why?? Because we are

    Several years ago, I decided to wear what I’m comfortable in… I wear swim shorts and a sun shirt. It seems to be more natural and less stressful.

  5. Years ago when neuroses got the best of me, I sought counseling. … NOT fair that Woody Allen parlayed his neuroses into a lucrative living while mine hit me with insurance co-pays! But, self-work paid off. I’m still neurotic as hell but I learned a formula that works for me when I am troubled in any way: Seek Awareness of my part in the situation; Pray to Accept what I cannot change; then Practice ‘let go and let God!’ Such wisdom has helped distance me from the kind of fear that used to consume me. Ultimately I discovered that “All spiritual growth is about letting go of …” (Rev. Michael Beckwith). Freedom from the bondage of self comes from detachment! Hugs, Collette

  6. This is an ongoing theme for me and for my clients in my clinical practice. Letting go, not worrying, being too attached to outcome and NOT being in the NOW are all struggles that keep me working on my path. I have to remind myself that it is in the consciousness that I find my growth of letting go.

    Thanks for sharing. I hope you had a great road trip.

  7. Joan,

    Once again, so wonderful for me to find you have blogged……

    I am trying to do exactly what you are doing…let go!!!

    It is hard but worth the effort. I am feeling that my family & friends are thinking, what happened to Jane?? Time will help them and me!!

    Keep writing…………… and have a great trip.

  8. Joan,

    As I spend a few moments of quiet time this morning enjoying my coffee and realizing the completion of my “Camino” — Ph.D. in my 60th year and graduation next week — I continue to be pulled by the ‘attachments’ of life.

    Life outside “The Way” continues. This weekend, grandchildren have Confirmation, Grandparents Day, and baseball tournaments. Thanks for reminding that it is a free spirit in the here and now that keeps us focused to enjoy what is real at each moment.


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