Letting go of attachment
When I was diagnosed with cancer I had to fight for my life. In doing that, I also had to fight for my sanity. That meant no more heartbreak. I needed to stay strong, unattached, and indifferent about what was going on around me. Anytime a worry would come up, I would rework my feelings so that I didn’t have to suffer the grief of losing another piece of myself. Another expectation ripped apart. I was broken-hearted by what the universe was putting me through.
What I didn’t know then, that I am realizing now, is that there is a difference between avoiding attachment and letting go of attachment. During those times of survival, I was avoiding making any attachment to any outcome. I didn’t let myself fall dependent on the people in my life who could leave. I convinced myself that it didn’t matter to me that I may never be able to have biological kids. I convinced myself that I was okay with the fact that I might not live. This sounds so depressing, but it was the only way I could stay sane and keep fighting to survive. No expectations and no attachments to outcomes.
I thought what I was doing was the right thing to do. Maybe at the time, it was, given the circumstances. Every meditation teacher, guru, or self-help book tells us that to have peace with “what is”, we must let go of our ego. This is what it means to be mindful and because every attachment we create is derived from our ego, we must let go of our attachments. What I realize now, is that these attachments are not a sign of weakness, they are what make us human. When life doesn’t work out the way we expect it to, we do have to come to terms with that and let go, but that doesn’t mean we stop making attachments to the things we care about.
Healing and hope
Now, as time heals the wounds of the past, I find myself setting expectations again, dreaming about the future again. I am making attachments to the things I want out of life. These expectations have changed because I have let go of some of my past attachments, but that is all good and healthy. Just like how we get heartbroken when a relationship reaches its end, we get back up and we find love again.
Maybe just like these past heartbreaks, these severed attachments teach us lessons. They help us reform and carry us toward something new and maybe even better. They teach us more about what we want in life, but most of all they teach us about hope. They say that our ego does us no good, but maybe that part of us is there for a purpose. What if it’s our ego that makes it possible to hold onto hope. A hope for something better, for sanity, and for peace.
The more we hope, the more attachments we make. The more attachments we make, the more that become broken. I’m not saying all expectations are a lost cause, because many do work out the way we want them to. But when they don’t, and we feel hope beginning to fade, we have to have faith that it always comes back. Because we are human, we love to dream, and there is beauty in that.