I love being fifty years old. I never thought I'd say that and mean it, but I honestly do. These past two years have been the Great Unraveling of life as I knew it. For the longest time, I wrestled with feelings of failure and defeat and uncertainty. I sobbed over lost friendships that simply vanished for no reason (at least no stated reason to me directly). I kept myself up at night tormented by losing my identity first as wife, then as "active-mom" once the kids went to college, and as a Coloradan. I clung to these identifiers because without them...who was I?
After dancing with these demons, I have come to a place where I no longer give a fuck. That's a good thing. I no longer give a fuck about who likes me and who doesn't, who stayed in my life or who vanished, who has my back or who doesn't. That may sound cynical, but it really is not. It is a point of knowing myself well enough to know I am okay alone--more than that, I trust myself enough to stand alone and flourish.
I've been studying this concept of internal power and "rewilding." Part of that is being comfortable releasing attachments to ideas, people, expectations, places, and things that no longer serve my purpose in present time. Clinging to outdated concepts--some of which were absorbed by me from outside entities like peers or family--held me back and created a horrible sense of unworthiness. By detaching from the old and reevaluating what my soul years for, I've come to a place where I don't give a fuck if someone is judging me or my choices any longer. As long as I am content and happy, I know I am on the right path.
In one of my woo-woo classes/workshops I attend regularly, someone asked a question that made me stop and think; "what happens when we release the drama? what happens when we realize that we're happy and content? what if our identity has been so wrapped up in the drama and in being in perpetual conflict that we no longer have anything to say to anyone?" Think about that for a minute. What if you truly have nothing to bitch about anymore? What if all this self-help work and meditation etcetera has actually done its job and you are happy?
Let me tell you what happens. Some people leave your circle because they were only in it for the rush of your troubles. Perhaps being in perpetual distress gave them the satisfaction of being better than you or gave them a sense of helping you. When you don't need that anymore--when you are happy--they may even get angry and lash out at you. This is when all that work on detachment comes into play--if you are so content with yourself and are in touch with your inner compass, it's okay to watch them walk away. Don't be tempted to manufacture trouble--aka self-sabotage yourself--to perpetuate an old identity that no longer serves you.
Also, when you're vining at a higher level, you're going to encounter fascinating people who are also on that wavelength. They don't give a fuck what other people think of them either and, together, you'll have one hell of a good time. You'll have deeper conversations. You'll discover people who have lived exciting lives. You'll laugh louder than ever before. You'll feel wild again--like a primal being being set free.
I have someone close to me who came into my life when my husband died. We started talking constantly, almost daily. I was a mess. I was sad. I was winging it every day just trying to survive and do what was right for my kids. She was there for me. She got me through some dark shit. Now, as recently as earlier today, I've noticed we don't have much to say. I am excited about things that I am doing and the people I'm meeting. I laugh a lot. When she asks what is going on, I respond with enthusiasm and go on and on about all the good stuff. She cuts me off mid-sentence...seems almost disappointed. Our calls become less frequent. It is becoming clear to me that she was as addicted to my drama as I had been. The drama of Amber in Crisis had been the basis for our relationship.
When I say I don't give a fuck, I smile. It's a concept that is hard to explain to some. I write books. I used to stress relentlessly over each one and lament about sales. Now I don't. I keep writing one after the other, just doing my thing. I used to obsess over writers' groups where I'd volunteer my time--did this for years straight, really used up a lot of manpower and brainpower on people who didn't really give a rat's ass about me in return. Why did I do that? Because I cared too much. I wanted to help, to be part of something, yes---but I also liked the writer drama of people complaining and me being able to "fix" the problem or lead them toward success. That sounds noble and I truly did care--but all that energy was misdirected because, once I backed away from those groups, all that networking meant nothing when I wasn't sacrificing my own career to help theirs. Years of "contacts" fell away once I wasn't seen as a vessel. Valuable lessons are learned from betrayals. Detaching from the outcome has helped me be more creative and more productive with my own career.
I will repeat that: detaching from the outcome has helped me be more creative and more productive with my own career.
Detaching from others' dramas helped me focus on getting my own shit together.
That's hard to admit in some ways because I think I did a pretty good job all these years after my husband's suicide. I raised great kids. We endured a lot from a mean-spirited community. We overcame a lot together. I started a career from nothing--despite the mocking and sneers from the other moms. In fact, this was the hardest attachment for me to release--this attachment to my former community and home. Even in those last days there while I was packing to leave, I held out hope that someone--any of these people I had known for 19 years--would show up to say goodbye, that there would be some sort of indication that they cared, that they gave a fuck. They didn't. Not one. I packed alone. I signed the closing documents alone. That was a powerful lesson to me, one that I've grappled with over the past year since. That attachment was one of the hardest to break--that attachment for their love and approval and support. Wow. It sucked. So painful. Months of tears and nightmares followed that move, but I now see that was all necessary for me to be able to let go.
I went back to that community a few months ago. It hit me like a wave--I no longer gave a fuck at all. Seriously, I didn't. I smiled at the realization, not from malice, but from relief! I was free of it. The weight of all that sadness and loneliness and desperation disappeared.
Yes, I love my family and I love my loyal friends--but I no longer care at all about anyone's approval or acceptance. I don't need it. After going through what I have, I am empowered by the knowledge that I am strong and smart and a survivor. Not giving a fuck is my way of saying I am detached from that burden heaped onto me by others...I am free.
I am free of the need to be validated.
I am free of the need to be vindicated.
I am free of the need for drama.
I am free to be me.
I am free to be happy--unapologetically happy.
Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of romantic thrillers, contemporary romance, women's fiction, and nonfiction. In addition, Easton also writes under two pen names--Dakota Skye (erotic paranormal romance thrillers) and Cassidy Springfield (new adult). She also works as a professional editor and creativity coach, takes road trips with her dogs whenever the mood strikes, and advocates for suicide awareness. To find out more about her books, please visit http://www.amberleaeaston.com.