How to Let It All Go

Someone asked me to review an app called “Let it Go.” Basically you write down what’s bothering you like, “I like the smell of skunk. Is there something very wrong with me?” and “I wish my dog would stop sniffing my butt. It really bothers me when she does that. The fact that she continues to do it makes me feel so unheard!”

Then the app releases those thoughts for you.

Exactly how it works is unclear because I don’t actually own the app. I’ve only read an email about it. I thought about trying it out. But then I looked around my living room. There are no curtains. The furniture is all gone, too. The corners of all the walls are covered in blue tape.

The only thing in this room is my desk, my computer, and my chair.

The room is so empty that there’s an echo every time I type anything on the keyboard.

My husband is painting, you see. He’s also still painting the child’s bedroom. And the hallway. And the dining room.

When he told me weeks back that he was going to paint I believe my exact words were, “Please don’t.”

“It won’t take long,” he said.

“That’s what you said about the child’s bedroom. You’ve been not painting it since before Halloween.”

“But we already moved all the furniture so we could have the floors redone. Now is the perfect time to paint,” he said.

I thought about saying, “Now is the perfect time to paint for people who actually paint when they say they are going to.” Instead I said, “How about we hire people to do it!?”

“Nah, I can do it,” he said.

I sighed. I already knew how this was going to go. “Okay, fine,” I said. “But don’t you dare set up the television until you’re done painting.”

Then I went to the store and I ordered this self massaging heated recliner that I’ve always wanted, and I had it delivered. It’s now the only other piece of furniture in this room other than my desk and my desk chair.

Some other wife would probably be livid over this the-house-still-isn’t-painted situation. Every time she needed an envelope and realized that she couldn’t find one because all the envelopes are packed away inside of some box that is under other boxes out on the porch where the rest of the things that used to be inside her house now reside, she would probably spank her husband with a paint brush, assuming she could fine one.

Not me. Over the years, with much meditation, I’ve become a master Let-It-Goer. If I can’t find an envelope, this is what I do: I ask my husband to find it for me. And then I go sit in my massage chair.

All better.

You envy me, don’t you? At the start of this story, you never in a million trillion years thought you would, but envy me you do. Everyone should have a heated, self massaging recliner.

Seriously, if every person in the world owned one, there would be world peace.

At the very least, there would be marital peace. I’m living proof.

Oh, sure, I could yell about the fact that I can never find anything when I need it because everything that I own is in storage. I could complain that I can’t walk around my house naked without all the neighbors saying, “Oh, so that’s what a woman’s middle aged body looks like!” I could gripe how the dog has been breaking into her food container ever since my husband removed the doors to the closet that houses the food.

But why bother? None of those things are going to get this house painted.

So rather than get irritated, I’m amused. It’s funny, you know? It’s especially funny when I have people over. Then I can say things like, “Well, I’d offer you a seat, but as you can see…” and “Okay you get the massage chair for 15 minutes. Then you have to give someone else a turn” and “Well we could eat dinner here standing up or we could go out. Your call.”

I’m also curious. How long can the man survive without the TV? What will be the event that motivates him to paint the whole house in just a couple hours? Will it be the Florida vs. Florida State game in the fall? The Tour de France in the summer? Or something much sooner? The Super Bowl perhaps?

And I’m thankful. My husband might take a whole year — or a decade — to paint a house, but he fills my car with gas so I don’t have to. It’s been an average of 3 degrees here for the past week, and I’m not talking about Celsius. Let’s just say that if I had a choice of furniture where it belongs or a bottomless tank of gas, I’d go with the gas. Wouldn’t you?

He also makes my lunch every day.

And he boils water for my tea and steeps the bag for exactly three minutes — no more, no less — and even brings it to me while I’m concentrating on writing a post about how he’s not painting our house.

If I want something from the grocery store — say chewable Vitamin D3, 1000IU per chew — I just write it down and magically it appears in a kitchen cabinet. When he sees me chewing on it, he asks, “Is that the right kind?” It always is. My husband never buys the wrong kind of anything. He’s detail-oriented like that. Like, next decade, when this house is completely painted and all the furniture is back where it belongs, there will not be one drip of paint where it does not belong. The man is careful and precise.

I could go on but, if I do so, I fear you will envy me for much more than my heated massage chair.

Now, sure, not everyone can afford a heated massage chair, but that doesn’t mean that not everyone can let go. The chair is nice, of course, but what really helps me is this: counting my blessings. Chances are, there’s a lot of beauty in your life that you take for granted. Your spouse might be irritating in some ways, but I’m guessing he or she is plenty awesome in many others.

Imagine a typical day without your spouse in it. What would be different? What would you miss? What wouldn’t happen if your spouse wasn’t around? What things would you have to start doing for yourself?

Maybe, after doing that, you’ll find that you let go a little.

Here’s another thing I do. I ask myself, “If today were my last day to live, would I spend it feeling irritated about this?”

The answer, of course, is no. If I only had a few minutes left to live, I wouldn’t waste them on anger.

I just hug my loved ones, and I’d call dibs on the massage chair.

Wouldn’t you?

Do you struggle to let go? Hoard grudges like some people hoard cheap wine? Tell me all about it in the comments. Remember: if you are reading by email, click through to the blog to comment.

Loved this post? Head on over the Babble.com where I explain what Marco Rubio accidentally taught us all about love as well as how to forgive without being a doormat.

8 comments… add one

  • One Frugal Girl January 24, 2014, 10:28 pm

    Loved this: “Here’s another thing I do. I ask myself, “If today were my last day to live, would I spend it feeling irritated about this?”” I’ve been thinking a lot like this lately. Would I really want anger to be my last emotion. Um, no. Well said.

    Reply
  • Gay January 25, 2014, 12:34 pm

    You are a better woman than I even aspire to be. Is that wrong? For now, I’m all about setting boundaries and not enabling folks. So good luck with your painting. Me? I’m gonna nag. And then, possibly, let it go.

    And yes, I do envy you your chair. Projects come and go. Heated massage chairs? A project I can get on board with! (And on a good day I might even share it!)

    Reply
  • Jen January 25, 2014, 5:12 pm

    Great post Alisa. I want to write a letter to my husband using the last half of your post as my formatting guide! It will be a great Valentine’s Day card this year I think! Thank you!

    Reply
  • Ron January 25, 2014, 6:00 pm

    I’m not going to lie and say I never get negative feelings or have a bad day. Of course I do. But I am lucky. My wife and I are seldom upset at the same time. After thirty-five years of marriage we have learned to read each other fairly well. When I’m upset she will try to talk to me about it. If that doesn’t work she suggests activities like shopping or walking or golfing, etc. Just like my coach used to tell me in high school, I like to “just walk it off”. She knows that, for me, getting out of the house, and being active is my heated massage chair. When she is upset, I suggest we go on a drive, out to dinner or a movie. If she doesn’t want to go out I’ll just make a nice dinner. Generally she talks in the car or at dinner and I listen. I have learned to fight the urge to give instant solutions. She just needs to verbalize her concerns. Of course if she asks for help, I do my best to help.
    I think it’s important to know yourself and know your spouse. Understanding how to safely release stress for each of you is critical. I believe that’s just as important as it is to know what caused the stress in the first place.

    Reply
  • Dandini January 27, 2014, 2:48 am

    I’m always upset when my hubby plays computer game with his mate online (he plays on average 2-3 times a week and could last up to two hours).

    But after reading your post, I started to count how many awesome things my hubby does for me and for the family, it is a lot;) and I’m just never really count on them and instead I’m always annoying when he start saying “I’m just gonna have a quick game with John”
    Grrrrr!!!

    But I’m starting to appreciate more and hopefully show him more my appreciation for the great things he does like; cooking dinner for us, tucking children to bed every night (almost) and yes filled the diesel in my car, help me cleans the house, taking us out for a nice meal, and actually lots more.

    I’m a lucky wife after all, and I promise I will let go of the fact that he like to play his computer game with his mate online, but no more than twice a week;)

    Reply
  • Jason January 29, 2014, 7:46 pm

    This is lovely. I admire the way you use humor and perspective to de-escalate what could become a serious argument, and I also love the way you notice and respect and admire the ways in which your husband takes care of you. I think that learning how to let things go is also admirable, and one of the secrets of a life with less stress (as is, I now know, a heated massage chair). However, I also wonder if it wouldn’t be worthwhile to respect your husband, be aware of how many good things there are in your life, and still express your frustration at how long this process is taking. In my experience, the only real way to let something go is to face it, feel it, and express it. Once this is done, often there is no need to let go because whatever we were frustrated about is already gone. You describe your husband as attentive and loving, so I wonder if he wouldn’t react to your frustration by trying to prioritize the painting job. Or, he might explain why he hasn’t been able to do this, which might also change the way you feel about these delays. Or you might get into a fight, which hopefully you’d both be able to talk through and in this way the frustration would also be expressed and possibly expelled. In my experience, meditation is about witnessing what is true, accepting whatever that is, and then deciding what, if anything, to do about it. I understand that you are saying you have decided not to discuss the slow pace of the painting job, but I find myself wondering whether this is the best way to handle your frustration.

    Reply
  • Heather January 31, 2014, 9:40 am

    I find it is also really helpful to remember that I am not perfect either. There are a number of things that I do that irritate my husband – or things I’ve done imperfectly – or not gotten to as the pace of life swept me along. How can I be critical of his faults or annoyances, when I am flawed too?

    Reply
  • Justin February 14, 2014, 2:29 am

    I must say as a man that tries to do all these things for my spouce it is often hard to finish something without words of affirmation. I have about a two year project that I have been working on in our home and it is being done to her spec but not a word on how it is going how nice it looks. But I am to notice every single hair cut fix the car when she hears a sound wash the dishs so she doesn’t feel. PULLED when she gets home even start supper on top of all that I get up every morning early to get to work by 6:30. I am tired.
    We have had some horrid times In our past I was not the husband she had imagined. Research show on average two years and the first dating feelings you have start to die down. Well it happened to us. I hurt my wife emotionally I never put a hand on her I committed adultery but never had sexual intercourse. This put her into a state on search herself and found it outside the home. For the past 1 year and a half I have sought councils from church professional help and have changed so much about myself. She has said she can see it but doesn’t know how to receive me. So all this leads me to my question why doesn’t she just let it go forgive but not forget and we really try to work on our marrige?.
    Acts of service that I feel I should do help her. I tell her how much I love her and why. But still we are seperated

    Reply

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