4.2 Letting (On)

Posted: April 28, 2010 in Uncategorized

Let Sleeping Kitties Lie.


Today, I came across a bunch of wonderful “let” idioms, many of which seem to reflect this process that I’m going through. Including:

Let off the hook
Let sleeping dogs lie
Let it all hang out
Let my hair down
Let nature take its course
Let them (me!) eat cake
Let every man skin his own skunk (I love this one)

There is something about the word ‘let’ that implies, to me, an opening of fingers, a loosening of control, a release, a relinquishing. There is a freedom there, and a power. But it’s so hard to open our fists, to un-grip those things we’ve been holding onto so fiercely. It is painful and scary and breath-taking.

But the phrase that attracts me the most at the moment is “Let on,” perhaps because of its wonderful duality:

1. Reveal one’s true feelings or a fact, allow something to be known, as in Don’t let on that you met her before. This usage is probably a shortening of let it on someone. [c. 1700]

2. Pretend, as in He let on that he was very angry, but in fact he didn’t care a bit. [First half of 1800s] Also see let in on.

This year, I’ve done a lot of “letting on,” in both senses of the word.

I’ve revealed a lot to a lot of people. Things about my sexuality, about my relationship, about my binge-eating disorder, about the lump in my breast, about my goals and dreams, about my fears, about my heartbreak, about my loves. I’ve said things I thought I’d never say, and in response, I’ve gotten: hugged, loved, pitied, laughed at, the other kind of laughed at, wrongly worshiped, fucked, fucked over, yelled at, ranted at, cried at, loved in a different way, left behind, taken with.

I’ve also pretended a lot. Not out of spite or meanness, but out of fear, out of attempts to keep from hurting other people or losing their love, out of not being self-aware, out of that idea that I am a strong, impossible-to-break, stand-tall, kick-ass woman. I sometimes can’t tell where the projected me and the real me begins and ends. There isn’t much difference — I’m not one of those people who can chameleon, what you see is pretty much what you get — but the projected me is a lot stronger than the real me, it’s less vulnerable and less afraid, less confident and cocksure.

Too much revelation has its repercussions. Too little revelation does as well. But there is a happy medium somewhere, a “me” medium, that means I am moving forward, neither telling nor withholding because of fear. Telling and being. Letting things be. Letting me be everything that I am.

Firing your neurons, one day at a time, s.


“It’s all right letting yourself go, as long as you can get yourself back.” ~Mick Jagger

  1. Alex says:

    There’s always a danger in opening up.. making ourselves vunerable to other’s scrutiny… but at the same time.. there’s often something strangely refreshing.. freeing in a sense.. a relief of sorts… a loss of tension or strain we didn’t know we had, from hiding things we didn’t feel we could or should show…

    I’m sorry the past while has been difficult, but glad it has perhaps brought some relief as well.

    Keep on keeping on, and never lose sight of who you are.

    As always,

  2. Katherine says:

    “Let the good times roll” is what came to my mind reading through your discussions on “letting”.

    Some of what you’ve written about here today reminds me of a Finnish proverb I try to refer to as often as I can:
    “Happiness is a place between too little & too much”

    Thanks (and thanks for sharing your journey)!

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