Welcome to the Unbreakable Boundaries Podcast
March 9, 2022

#54 What does "Letting Go" really mean?

You hear it all the time with people who have loved ones with substance abuse issues. The "Letting go". But what does that really mean. Sometimes we have a misconception on what "Letting Go" really means. It's more about letting go of our ideas of what should be or shouldn't be. This is what this podcast explores. 


Transcripts are Auto-Generated

Welcome back to the unbreakable boundaries podcast with your host, myself, Jennifer Maneely. In today's episode, I really wanted to talk about something that is really important and something we hear a lot of other people telling us we have to do, when we do have loved ones, with substance abuse issues. And it's this idea of letting go, it's like, oh, we, we have to let them go. We have to, you know, do this and that, and, and I think that it is something that we have to learn how to do, but what does it really mean? And I think that there is a perception in it.

That isn't exactly helpful. So if you're, if you have a loved one, if you're a parent, or whatever, I know, you've been told, like how you gotta let them go. And for us, or for you, you may interpret that as meaning you have to turn your back on them, or you have to let them quote unquote, die. And that's, that's when you hear that that's what you hear is, what do you mean, I have to let them go, there's no way in hell, I am doing that. And under those perceptions, you would be correct, there's no way you're doing that, you can't do that. And so I think that, when we really start understanding what does that truly mean, we can start getting our heads wrapped around it. Now that doesn't mean that it's going to be easy, it just means that we can at least understand it in such a way that we may be able to do it. So what does this idea of letting go really mean? It means you may have to start looking at letting go of your ideas of them.

So a lot of times what ends up happening is we create a lot of this, this picture that we want for our loved one that just isn't accurate. So we may, you know, tell them all, well, they should be doing this, that I should be acting like this, and they should be acting like that. And it's not that you're incorrect in that, it's that sometimes we have to let go of the idea that they are going to do those things. Because they may not, they may not do those things, they may not ever be the person that you thought that they would be, they may never be the person that has the job that you felt like they would be just great at they they may not be the person that's going to stop using substances. And so here's what we can do is look at what is right in front of us, well, how are they behaving in the here, and the now that's the important part, that's where we can start really taking a look at some of our actions, and making sure that our actions are actually in alignment with what is and not with what our idea of what we think it should be.

So just to kind of give you an overview of, of an example of how this can look is this like, you know, one of the most common things that I see is maybe they're living with you, maybe they're not maybe you're so far, you're like is they're never gonna live with me again, or they're just, that's just not what we do. But this is just an example. So, but let's just say that they are living with you. And when they're living with us, we have all of these ideas of how they should behave. And here's the here's the boundaries, though. If they're living with you, you have every right to set the boundary. You can tell them how they need to be behaving in your house. So if one of the rules of the house is that they're not allowed to use drugs in your house, which is perfectly reasonable, then they're not allowed to use drugs in your house. That's just it.

Now, you can set that boundary or maybe it's not even in your house. Maybe you want to set the boundary that as long as you are living with me. You can't use drugs period, and that's perfectly acceptable as well. Here's the thing, we can't control the outcome of that we can set the boundary. But we can't control if they're going to adhere to that boundary or not. And so they may use drugs. In which case, here's the boundary is, oh, well, you knew what the conditions were. So here's the thing, we have to begin to make our decisions based in the here and now. Now, not what could be, not what might be not what's happened in the past, but in the now. And in the now, there's a boundary that says that if you want to live in this house, you cannot use drugs. So now we have to adhere to that boundary and let go of the ideas of what could potentially happen if they leave that house. And that is scary. It is so scary. But here's what is really important here. We have to allow them their life choices.

We have to allow them and honor their decisions on how they want to live their life. And they have to take responsibility for the decisions they are making in the here. And in the now. Not what happened to them 20 years ago, not what happened to them, even last week, not what they think that you did to them 20 years ago, and that you somehow owed them a destructive path. It's not that we have to let go of the ideas of what they should be doing, what could be happening, what might happen, if they leave out of this house, we have to operate under the here and now and what do we think is going to best serve them.

And I can tell you from experience, that what best serves me is full ownership of my life of living the life that I want to live. This is really important because I have a lot of my friends, they they started following my my life model, right? I just do whatever I want to do. And here's the thing, immediately people go, What do you mean, you just do whatever you want to do, like, so if I want to go rob a bank, then I can go rob a bank. Yeah, if you want to go to jail, what I don't want to do is spend my life in jail. So I'm not going to go rob a bank. I don't want to hurt people. I don't want to be someone that other people can't depend on.

That's not what I want. I don't want to also constantly feel obligated to do things that I don't want to do. So I don't, I don't do things out of obligation, I do things because I want to do them. Because I'm very clear for myself of how I want my life to be because at some point in my recovery, I had to take ownership over my life and my decisions. And I will tell you, both in and out of recovery, recovery, I have not made always very sound decisions. And that has taught me the life that I want, because of the consequences. That has happened based on the decisions that I have made. And it's like, oh, well, I thought that I wanted those things. But what I didn't foresee was the consequences of those actions. And I don't want that. So I live my life with what I want in the here in the now. And I had to let go of a lot of ideas of what I thought that I wanted. I also had to let go of the future focus and the past Focus, it's important for your loved one, to start seeing how their life choices are what is creating the life that maybe they don't want to live.

And it's really easy for them to go into this shame, blame, blaming you blaming the universe, blaming whatever. But you know what? It's their decisions that are leading that. And it's easy on our end, for us to say that to them, and to see it and whatever, they can't see it. But they need to feel it. And so this is where letting go of your ideas of how they should be behaving, or what's gonna happen to them, or anything that's not in your control, it's letting go of that idea. And just working within the here, and now, you did not make them wake up that morning, or this morning or tomorrow morning, and start seeking out drugs or alcohol, you didn't make them do that. You didn't make them go down and Rob Joe Schmo who's now after them, because they just robbed or you didn't make them behave that way.

They made those choices. And it's important for them to begin to see how they are setting their own lives up. So that's what the part of letting go really means is to let go of that, thinking that you can control outcomes, it doesn't mean that we're not there. We want to be there for them. And it's like, where are those boundaries, right. And so I start thinking about, you know, some of the family members who may have found their loved ones into, like, they got them into rehab five times, and every time it comes out same. Well, maybe now it's up to their loved one to get themselves into rehab, you've already done what you can do. And now it's like, you know what, maybe I have to let go, and allow them to figure this out.

Doesn't mean that we can't be their cheerleaders with boundaries, but their cheerleaders to support them and remind them of who they really are. Right now, what they believe, is that their horrible piece of shit, they don't deserve any better. You somehow destroyed their lives, whatever other bullshit that they come up with. But it can be helpful sometimes for people to be reminded of who they really are. Those are the things that prevent them from being who they really are. But we know who they really are. Very smart, very capable, we have a lot of hope. And here's the thing is, is I want to say this is that we don't let go of the positive things in our life, we don't let go of hope. We don't let go of courage. We don't let go of, you know, happiness or joy or any of those things. No, we hold on to those things very deeply.

Especially when it comes to hope, because a lot of people start letting go of hope. And I want to say this, and this is something from being in recovery. I can I can say is that. As long as someone still has a heartbeat. There is still hope, period in the story. We don't give that up. Ever. I've watched people go where I'm like hair, so going to die. They go all the way down. Maybe they've almost died several times. And they come back and they're the best people ever. Like they've really worked on themselves. They've done a lot in their lives. I mean, just about anyone that has long term recovery, when you really hear their story of the using it was the bottom of the bottom of the bottom. And somehow we come out with come out stronger than ever. And at some point we thought we were going to die. And we didn't. So as long as there's a heartbeat, there's always hope, no matter how far gone they seem to be. They can make a different decision. At any time, and there's plenty of times where they have little blurps, of clarity. That's like, what am I doing, and then they want to do something different.

And it happens just like that. I mean, sometimes it happens really fast. Because I can tell you, they don't want to live the life that they're living either. They just need the courage and to know that they're being supported, and not supported in such a way that we're enabling poor decisions. And there's where enabling comes from. And this is what we have to let go. is enabling poor decision. So if what you're doing is unintentionally enabling a poor decision, then it's time to look at that and let that go? Let go poor decision making, right. So that's, that's the important thing. And it's sometimes that can be a really tricky one. I mean, I mean, we say, Oh, you don't have to enable them. But it's like, but we do want to support them. And so where are those lines, and there's all sorts of complex dynamics that go into discovering exactly where those lines are. And what it is for one person may be very different than the other person. So what someone did for their child to get to help them and support them, and then they got into recovery may not be the same thing that you have to do. We don't know what that's going to be until we're there. But here's one blanket thing I can say is that support from families can very much be helpful into someone having enough faith and courage in themselves to be in recovery, just knowing that they that you are there for them, but not necessarily enabling them, right.

Like even in my early recovery, thank God that my mom got the help, that she also needed to figure out how to deal with me. But for a bigger part of my life, she financially she enabled me in a lot of ways, because she really, really did truly want what was best for me. So she wanted, you know, for to put me in college, but she definitely wanted me to stay out of debt. So anytime I started racking up debt, or thought, you know, if a bill was gonna go unpaid, she wanted me to have a good credit score. So she would, she would help pay my my way in those things. And she would take care of bills, or she would, you know, keep me out of debt. And she would do all of those things. But what it it unintentionally created was some financial illiteracy. For me. What it created was poor spending habits. For me, what it created was poor budgeting habits for me. And when she stopped doing those things, and she was like, Look, you're gonna have to figure out how to budget your money, and start paying your bills, doing it anymore.

And I know that because I came to her even in, you know, early recovery, man, I like over a year clean. But I still think that was a little bit of like, early recovery thing. And I was really struggling like I, I had just left my ex husband. And I was living in a in a room and things were really, really stressful. And financially, they were tight. But it wasn't impossible. They were just tight. And I wanted to spend my money on things that I wanted to spend my money on over bills. And so you know, my mom, mom's very smart financially. And so she knew about how much I was making, and she knew how much my bills were. And so when I came to her and I was like, really struggling paying this bill, it would have been easier. And I would have had more cushion to spend my money on things that I would much rather have spent like dinners out or maybe a new pair of jeans or whatever it was, she knew that I should have been able to afford.

For everything to be paid based on what I was making. How much actual cash I was bringing in each month. She's like, No, I'm sorry, you're gonna have to figure that out. From that one, no, though. All of a sudden, I was like, Oh, I am responsible for my financial decisions. It doesn't mean since then I haven't sometimes have needed, you know, some support or some help, and have had to ask to get it. And we come up with a set of terms, we come up with agreements, but we built the trust to know that, you know, things are gonna work out, or I'm going to work it off, or it's not just, it's not just here have this, it's a, let's work on how this can be a fair exchange. And so it was also the idea of just letting go of, of the idea that she may have a daughter. And this was really hard for her because she, it was a banker, and an accountant and all of these things. She has like the best credit score ever, right? She had to let go of the idea that her daughter was going to follow in her footsteps. And that was a really hard idea for her to let go that took her years to really work on herself enough to mourn my, my path. And now I mean, she looks at my my path, which was very, very different than hers. But no better or worse, it's just different.

It was different than hers. And it was different than her idea for me. And she had to let that go. And within that came, you know, some challenges and she had to work through but it's she had to get help to kind of work through those things. Because that's a grieving, there's a grieving in that. So it's not just so it's, it's simple, but it's not easy just to go, Okay, I'm gonna let go, no, no, it takes some work. And it takes some work on what it means to do that. And what does it look like? And so when you start really thinking about the things of like, well, how do I let go, one of the really good places to start is gaining clarity on what is the reality, and what are your ideas. And that's going to be a great place for you to start is, oh, I'm having to let go have my idea, versus what really is and that whatever my idea was, that may not ever happen. But it doesn't mean that things great things can't happen. It just means that we're gonna have to allow the universe we're gonna have to allow, you know, their higher power, we're gonna have to allow whatever it is that you believe in. We're gonna have to allow their journey. And it's their journey.

And our journey is to not get in their way and to let go of those ideas. So think about that, when you're thinking about, well, how do I let go, quote, unquote, let go of my loved one, I can't do that. You're not letting go of your loved one, you're not turning your back on them, you're not rejecting them, you're letting go of ideas of what they should and shouldn't do. Because this is just what is, and this is just what is happening, we're going to have to let go of some of that shame of what is happening. These are deep things, these are deep topics. And so I don't feel like it's always like I don't, I feel like we need each other. This is why communities get built, is because we don't go about these things by ourselves. We can't, we need support from each other, we need to hear when we're going into those places. Because we don't always get to see it for ourselves. I certainly don't get to see it for myself, I need people to you know, kind of help when I'm going down a particular road to say hey, just want to say hey, you're kind of going down that particular road. And because this is complicated and because it's not always very clear.

If we had the answers than we would have the answers right then I'm not saying like quote unquote, the answers but if we knew how to do this, we wouldn't be doing it and here's the thing is, is we don't we don't get through life by ourselves. We need each other's wisdom to be the best versions of ourselves that we can be and so I want to remind you know my audience out there have of going it's okay to to seek wisdom out from from someone else, you know, it can be me I certainly feel like I have Have a lot of wisdom. It doesn't have to be me. But it can be me. And so if if you're listening to this and you're like, Man, this was, this was good at kind of like to think more about these ideas, maybe you can help me flush some of this out, maybe you can help me gain some clarity in maybe the ideas that I do have, because it's like I haven't, I have some ideas of the ideas that I've created. But I've made, I feel like I'm missing some things. And maybe you can help flush that out for me, I can do that. And so I really encourage you to reach out to me. And you can do that by a couple of different ways. You can always go to my podcast page, unbreakable boundaries, podcast.com, there's places you can sign up, man.

But really, like, you can also reach out to me individually, Jennifer at Maneely Consulting calm is my email, you can actually just email me, and I'll get back to you. Like, let's set something up and actually talk through some of these things. Because I think this is important, this is important stuff, you should have some more to go and some more to land to talk through this stuff. Now, also know that, you know, one phone call isn't, isn't going to, you know, skyrocket your life into a different decision. But it's a great place to start to know where to go next, and what you can do, and what are the resources out there, I am a resource, or other people that are resources, you know, maybe I'm a fit, maybe I'm not. But let's talk about what I have to offer to you in order to achieve what you want. And maybe it is like I need to figure out how to let go. And, you know, conceptually, we may no go oh, okay, I totally get it conceptually, you may understand the actions behind it are a little bit more challenging. And there becomes the work and the work, we don't get to do alone, whether we like it or not. So, you know, that may be something you're ready for.

And maybe it's not something you're ready for. Either way is okay. But I am here for whichever path you want to take. So email me, Jennifer Maneely Consulting, there's also my website, my regular website, Maneely Consulting comm I do encourage you to go check out man, I just redid my podcasting website, I think it's pretty cool. So I definitely encourage you to go out there and, you know, one of the things that I do have up there, because I put a lot of time and investment, financial investment into this into this podcast, you know, I spend quite a few, quite a bit of money doing doing this, and it's something that I offer for completely free and I love doing it, I'm gonna keep doing it, I'm gonna keep investing into it. Because I think creating this, you know, really valuable free resource for people to hear all sorts of different concepts in interviews, and all of that is hugely valuable in this. And so that's not going to stop. And I always want to do it for free. And I think about like, Oh, should I go in the way of advertising just to cover costs.

And, and I'm like, I don't, I don't really want to go down that road. And so part of my new podcasting page gives the ability to donate, and it doesn't have to be a lot 510 bucks. It helps in some of my financial burden. Because it does this cost money. You know, I have to pay for the website, I have to pay for some of the editing software and all those kinds of things. I had to pay for the equipment, all of those kinds of things that go into this the things that you don't even think about I have subscriptions I have to pay for monthly just to keep all of this going because you have to have hosting site. I mean, it's, it's a bit so I would really appreciate if you would at least consider you know, just five or 10 bucks, you don't have to is always going to be free. I'm always going to want to keep doing this but you can you can do that.

There's a little button you'll see it unbreakable boundaries podcast.com to do it. And here's one thing I always like to end on when it comes to tough love and this is also about our ideas. We have to let go of the idea of what we think that tough love really means. You know tough love is not about being tough on them. But it is about sometimes having to make decisions that are tough to do. And with that hope you have a great day