This month in my classes, I’ve been sharing the idea of Letting Go, and this week, I’ve been talking about Letting Go of the past by “unpacking.” This is the poem I shared.
When she was ready to move into her new home,
the first thing she unpacked was from her childhood.
It was that boy who called her a name because she didn’t look like him.
Or dress like him.
Because her mother worked the register at the Five and Dime as they called it back then
and her father worked on other people’s cars.
She took that boy out of the invisible suitcase she carried on her back, shook him off, and let him go.
The next thing she unpacked was from her teen years.
She reached into her bag and with a gentle tug,
pulled forth the memory of the girls who said she couldn’t sit with them at lunch.
That she belonged somewhere else—anywhere else.
She held those girls up and stared at them long and hard, and with a whisper of forgiveness,
she let them go.
Feeling lighter now and so much stronger,
she then unpacked her college boyfriend who had broken her heart,
her first boss who yelled at her for sport, she was sure,
the series of dates that ended terribly
the jobs she abandoned
the man she was with when she should have known better,
the men she was with when she should have known better.
From her suitcase she yanked the memory of the extra money she’d stolen from the tip jar,
and the times she said she would be there and wasn’t—
She freed all the “Wrong” things she said and did
and all the “Wrong” things that were done to her.
She held up
the memory of her father’s death
and her mother’s illness.
Each was wrapped in an extra thick protective layer of guilt.
Pulling at the packaging, they unraveled quickly, so she let them go, too.
Then, she placed each memory carefully on a quilt laid out on the floor before her
and with one deep breath, she took them all in—the sorrow, the guilt, the embarrassment, the shame, the solitude, the pain—so, so much pain—and then, she breathed them out.
She did this again and again until the people and the jobs and the memories were nothing more than dust in the palm of her hand.
With one soft blow, they were all released,
and with a full heart and a free mind, she was home.