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The Gift of Freedom

By Lori Welch Brown

How did we get to July so soon? Holy cow. Feels like just yesterday we were putting away the Christmas tree and making New Year’s resolutions. I’d like to say time flies when you’re having fun, but I haven’t been having a lot of fun recently. That, however, is about to change.

We have a crazy maker in our family. Maybe you have one too. My particular crazy maker doesn’t think he has a problem—everyone else has the problem. Even though his life is at ground zero all due to his own decisions (poor ones), everyone else is to blame. Recently he has been lashing out in horrendous, unacceptable ways.

When you’re on the outside looking in, crazy is easy to spot. When you’ve been embroiled in the dysfunction and spend your days just dodging bombs, it’s more difficult to see. You’re just busy trying to survive.

And, that is not freedom.

Freedom takes many forms, including the freedom to be happy—even if it means releasing toxic family members and/or friends.

Anyone above the age of 12 knows that life can be hard and isn’t always fair, but most of us do have some options. As we get older, our options increase.  We get to make decisions for ourselves. Regardless of our situation—rough childhood, divorced parents, absent parent, abusive parent, etc., we can do things to move forward instead of living in the past. We can get help, live in the present, and make our way in the world as best we can. With the proper help, we can free ourselves from past hurt and pain—even trauma.

We get this one precious life and get to choose how to live it.

So, this July, I’m giving my crazy maker a gift—the gift of freedom. I am freeing him to fly out into the world and hopefully carve out a life for himself. With that release, I’m granting myself freedom as well. Freedom from toxicity. Freedom from dysfunction.

Thanks to all those who serve, we have the right to choose, and I choose happiness, peace, and joy. I am beyond grateful to wake up in a world where others have sacrificed in order that I may enjoy freedoms that many don’t, and I hope I never take those for granted. Think about it for a minute—thanks to those who serve, we have liberties and freedoms that many in this world only dream of such as the ability to pursue an education, seek the vocation of our choosing, marry (or not marry) a partner for love vs a dowry, pray to the deity of our religious beliefs, vote for leaders who best reflect our principles. The list goes on and on, and yet sometimes I do take these liberties for granted.

While I can never repay the countless people who have given their lives and those who continue to serve so that I can live my life free of oppression, I can honor them by wrapping it around me like a warm blanket and not squandering it.

We have independence as a country, but also as individuals. With that freedom and independence comes a certain responsibility—a responsibility to understand that freedom is a privilege not to be taken for granted. Nothing in our lives should be taken for granted. Life is precious and it can go up in smoke in the blink of an eye.

Life—and summer—are far too short not to be enjoyed. The moments are fleeting, and it is up to us to find the joyful ones and cling to them. Make memories with the ones you love, and hold them close to your heart. Stop chasing after people and chase fireflies instead. Put your energy into people who value you as another human being walking the planet with them vs what you can do for them.

It is hard to let go sometimes, but you have to ask yourself if it’s harder to hold on. In my case, the answer is yes. A friend of mine recently told me, “Sunk costs are sunk costs.” It took a minute for that to sink in. Pun intended.  I think sometimes we get so mired down in the emotional investment we’ve made with people that it feels hard to walk away. You’ve spent time, possibly money, and given of yourself in the hopes of ‘fixing’ that person or healing the relationship. Sometimes the best thing you can do is cut your losses and move on. As the late, great Kenny Rogers said, “You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away, and know when to run.”

Freedom holds different meanings for each of us. Whatever freedom means to you, I hope you hold it close to your heart, safeguard it, and protect it because it hasn’t come without a price. You are free to choose, so choose wisely. While you’re at it, grab a blanket, plop down for a fireworks show, and soak in the beauty of a summer night. That is a freedom I hope to enjoy sooner rather than later.

Sometimes the best gift we can give someone is independence and the freedom to fly away.

About the Author: Lori is a local writer, painter and pet lover who loves to share her experiences and expertise with our readers. She has been penning a column for the OTC for over 20 years. Please follow Lori online on Medium for more missives like this.

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