For days, maybe weeks, the word Surrender has been going around and around my mind.
It is a word that can be used in so many contexts and so, for me, it has been a difficult one to sink into.
In so many ways, I feel like much of my life has been spent surrendering to the power that others have held over me. The amount of times I have allowed myself to go down without a fight are immeasurable.
I have allowed people to walk all over me, abusing me physically, sexually, emotionally, without consequence, apology or remorse. I have rolled over, brushed myself off and carried on a little more broken, time and time again.
Out of this, all I have been left feeling is weak and ashamed in my inability to fight, in my instinct to surrender to their every depraved whim or choice.
So it is not surprising that over the past year, when trying to get to grips with words such as surrender, I have fought them. To me they have been entangled in this sense of giving other people control over my mind, my body, my life. It has been almost synonymous with giving up.
But this is not the context in which this word has been playing out in my mind recently. It is not telling me to surrender to other people’s ideas of who I am. It is not telling me to allow people to trample all over my being in any way they choose.
It is not telling me to go backwards and leave myself wide open to the toxicity of those who have hurt me or those who have fed into the cover-up of these hard truths. It is not telling me to let go of my true self, of all the things that make me Me.
It is not telling me to give up on myself and on my life.
Other voices may tell me these things, sometimes stronger more eloquent voices. But this one does not say this. Quite the opposite.
It tells me to let go. To allow myself to feel whatever I need to feel. To allow the Universe to lead me in whatever way I need to go. To allow my body to break and change and heal as it needs to. To allow myself to feel joy when it presents itself and to feel grief when it floods my soul.
To stop fighting my inner knowing when it tells me of my past, when it calls out to me in my needs, when it pushes me forward in directions that feel scary but ultimately right.
It is telling me to surrender to my vulnerabilities, my truth, my story, my feelings, my life.
To let go to trust, to the process of healing, to my world, to the wisdom of my life, to the expression of my true self.
It is not easy. It is not easy to change the habits of a lifetime. It is not easy to let go into the unknown, to trust, to be present.
It is scary and it is painfully difficult to fully let go and not keep clawing my way back to old ways of being, to the only way I knew how to surrender — allowing others to claim power over me or allowing myself to constantly hold up my defenses.
While celebrating a close friend’s birthday, I realized that whilst I had no desire to speak of my recent experiences, I was also holding myself back from enjoying the evening, I was not fully there.
Then a song was playing which reminded another friend of her dad, who had died two months ago. She instantly allowed her tears to flow.
As I sat holding her hand, I looked at her, feeling her pain, but also in awe of her ability to allow herself to feel her grief fully in this moment, in her ability to let go of her tears and cry freely.
A while later, as I thought to myself about my inability to express my pain to others, about my hesitance and often inability to cry, about my complete overriding control of my emotions tonight as I wore my defensive, yet outwardly fine mask for my friends, I realized I was as much controlling my darker feelings as I was my lighter, more joyful feelings for the evening.
Through all of this, the word kept roaming around the corners of my mind:
I could hear it telling me to feel whatever joy presented itself to me in these next moments, to allow myself a break from my heartache, even if only for an hour or two, even if it meant that I might come crashing down later in even more pain than I was then feeling.
I could feel it quietly showing me, through my friend, that this is what surrender looks like.
This is what it looks like to let go to the emotions and feeling of that moment, to not let them consume you but to let them out, to trust, to let down your defenses, to express your feelings and yourself in the very moment you need to the most, and then to be able to keep moving through the laughter that is heard close by and to let go back into the joy.
When words like this keep returning, when I keep using it in various ways in my writing or my conversations without conscious choice, when I keep coming back to this thought in my mind, when it is screaming at me in quiet whispers, when I have tired myself out by fighting against it, it seems there is nothing else to do but to listen and to surrender; to surrender myself to the moment.
So I surrendered. For the last hour of my evening, I actually let myself be as fully present as I could be in that moment for my friends, and I allowed myself to feel the sadness and joy in the room.
And now, I am trying to surrender to this moment when, for many, many, many reasons, I have no choice but to give myself up to the grief and sadness that is filling every inch of my being.
Mariann Martland is a writer, a seeker, a lover, a friend. She is a woman finding her voice in a very real world where she cannot help but dream. She wholeheartedly believes in the Universe, love, connection and strength of human spirit, even when she is overwhelmed or confused by life; there is usually at least one moment in each day when she feels overwhelmed or confused by life. Through writing she dances in the dark and breathes in the light. More of her words can be found at Things I wish you knew, and on Facebook and Instagram.