EPISODE 75 – PODCAST TRANSCRIPT
Hi there, welcome back to Kelly Martin Speaks. I’m your host Kelly Martin and this is episode 75.
Today I am going to talk about letting go of attachment to other people and how challenging it can feel when you have had a fear of loss or other fears for a long time.
At the moment I seem to be going through a big, often challenging personal shift. The black dog of depression revisited me this past week and I’ve been facing a fear of loss, realising I have been protecting myself from loss by keeping good things away from me, joy, love, friendship and abundance, but something that has come up this week is really hard for me.
Working through letting go of this protection strategy that kept me safe for so long, even if it kept me in a perpetual state of lack and sorrow, I realised that because of my past loss experiences I have been holding on to people I love.
And while it may seem perfectly human and natural to do so, for me it feels quite debilitating and limiting.
Holding onto People
When my mum had cancer last year, I didn’t realise how much I was holding onto her. I began to envisage all the worst case scenarios that could happen and while I know I have lost people, close people, and it’s natural to experience fear and grief, I now know that holding on to people is no longer working for me.
My best friend Michael is 82 years old. We have lived together for over 16 years now, in a way we are husband and wife, in a friendship sense, we are one another’s eyes and ears, we have each other’s backs, we are unconditional in our love and we love each other’s company. As odd as such a huge age-gap sounds. Michael is more a 50 year old in mentality and body, normally very fit and healthy, but I have been very reluctant to face the prospect of him leaving the planet, fearing what would happen, how I would cope. The attachment to him was so great, I would imagine leaving the planet alongside him, because the thought of him not being there was so painful to me.
My attachment to him was not just emotional, but physical too. He has been supporting me financially and so many fearful scenarios flood through my mind. So while I tried to protect myself from the good in life, this fear of loss was all pervading.
This week he got sick. I am going to the doctors with him. He had incredible pain in his ear and lumps on his face that spread. He was high-spirited still, through the pain, he’s a fighter and as he never gets sick it really threw me.
It did not pass me by that the moment I started to consider letting go of my ‘fear of loss protection strategy’ for life, he suddenly got sick. It was like life was amping up my learning, that apart from releasing this strategy, I needed to face my fear of loss and death. I am not scared of my own death, my greatest fear is those I love dying, because the pain of my father’s death was so deep to me.
Letting Go of Attachment
As somewhat a loner, with few friends locally, the thought of letting him go, pains me greatly, but I know I must let him go. Not so much say goodbye, as he is still here, but to let go of the attachment to him, the neediness and dependence on him.
And I imagine I am not the only one who feels this way. Many of us when in relationships or with family, if we have already experienced incredible loss, if we have other loved ones, we may cling onto them, hold on for dear life, literally. It is hard indeed to let this go. I understand if you struggle with this.
In many ways all of these fears tap into my own abandonment issues, because the feeling of abandonment has come up countless times in my life, not just through death, but through people choosing to walk away, be it physical or emotionally.
It can also trigger us if we have separation anxiety. This can go back to early life trauma or other experiences. When I was a baby, I was apparently taken away from my mother for around 24 hours while she recovered from the birth. It was during the era where midwives thought this was a good idea. I can only imagine many people of my generation and earlier had this experience also.
I also remember going on a little adventure at around age 4 on holiday and getting lost and being shouted at for doing this. So no doubt this tapped into this also.
Now in adult life, I am aware that if I go away for a few days or weeks from my best friend I fear that because I am not with him he will die. It is such a fear of letting go of attachment to him and a lack of trust in life and its grand design.
I Was Trained in Worry
Worrying is something I have done a lot of in my life, with a lot of my life being filled with anxiety. I was trained early on to worry about a lot of things. My mum was and is a worrywart. Before my dad died even more so. She would worry about what people thought of her, she would worry about so many things. I learned early on that life could not be trusted and so when I am triggered like this, my worry-mind kicks in and goes into overdrive.
Already working out what I need to know if I lose my best friend. Wondering how I will cope. It is hard.
The fear of losing loved ones can make us become very irrational.
We begin by thinking the worst possible case could happen, we have a breakdown, we lose our home, we become homeless, that is a personal one of mine.
We also think we are incapable of handling such a huge change when our history says otherwise. We look upon the potential loss and remember the pain of grief, but we forget how strong and resourceful we were, we forget that we can cope with big, even painful change. We get locked into the ‘I won’t be able to handle this’ way of thinking.
And because death anxiety can cause us to feel this way, we try to control the imaginary future by clinging on more tightly to those we love. Sometimes we suffocate them and a result of this is being overly co-dependent and not giving the other person space to breathe. Which can lead to them leaving us, so we experience the loss we feared all along.
It’s an oddly strange thing we do, this need to feel safe by controlling, but many of us do this.
We may find we don’t trust our partners, family members to take care of what needs doing, so we turn into bossy control freaks, because of instead of admitting we are afraid, we become super organised to prevent the extra pain we perceive could happen when loss arrives at our door. Which it inevitably will, because we all die at some point.
Experiencing loss can create so many scenarios we use to keep us feeling more safe, but the comfort zone of control in the long term becomes even more shaky and uncertain, so it is then that we begin the journey to facing death again, but doing so consciously before loss and learning to let go of attachments to those we love.
How do we let go of attachments to those we love?
Well…I am simply beginning this process.
For me it begins by being honest and realistic. Accepting that we are scared and forgiving the part of us that tried to keep up safe from this feeling.
We can then prepare in some small ways, if it is a relationship or family member, getting to know about what we will need to do after they die. As morbid as this sounds. Do we have insurance policies at hand, bank details, next of kin phone numbers…simple things, but it removes the extra fear of being thrown into a panic and not knowing what to do when it happens.
And I have began doing something called Emotional Freedom Technique. It is a form of acupressure tapping on points on the body. I follow someone called Brad Yates, who has videos on depression, worry, fear of loss, attachment and more.
For some of you listening, you may need the help of a therapist, especially if your death anxiety is extremely panic oriented. It can help to talk if over with someone outside your situation. It is good to get things in proper perspective, because anxiety can make us think often illogically and dramatically about potential future scenarios.
And finally, begin to really look at your life from the here and now. Look at your loved ones from a place of they are here now and I can love and enjoy our time together. Accept the fact that you never really know when someone is going to leave this planet, from young to old…it can happen at any time. So isn’t it better that we embrace what we have while we have it? Instead of fearing what we may lose?
And as Norman Cousins says
“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.”
Choose to live now and let life and death take care of itself.
Embrace the moment.
Thanks for listening to another episode of Kelly Martin Speaks
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Until next time…bye for now.
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