The Art of Letting Go

I'm beginning to really love who I am. I can honestly say that I never felt that way before. In fact, it was impossible for me. You can't truly love yourself if you haven't forgiven those who have hurt you so badly.
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So many times in our life, we hear people tell us, "You've got to let that go." Your girlfriend left you? Let that go. Your best friend forgot your birthday? Let that go. Your parents divorced? Let that go. In my case, it was my father's choice to not be in my life. I heard it over and over again, and every time, it made me angry. I'd ask myself, "Who are you to tell me to let it go? Don't you know how much it hurts me? Do you think I WANT to live in this pain?" What I've learned is that they were right. We do have to let it go, but it will come in our own time. But what does "letting go" mean, exactly? How do you know you are healed?

For a long time, I thought that one day I would wake up and just be miraculously "cured" from the major pains in my life. After years of waking up disappointed, I had to reassess that theory. I wanted to live in the pain, because I didn't know what life would be like without it. I was so hurt for so long that I was actually scared of what life would be like without the pain that I had lived with every day. Once again, I had been frozen by the fear of the unknown.

Once I began dealing with the issues, really dealing with them, things changed. Being on Oprah's Lifeclass literally changed my life. It helped me to think differently. It helped me to reframe the story I had been telling myself all of my life. For the first time, I really allowed myself to feel the hurt. I allowed myself to go through the pain, because I realized that you can't get through it unless you go through it. It was a rough couple of months, but I made it through. I allowed myself to feel whatever it was that I was feeling. And it was in those moments that I began breaking through.

The first step that I noticed was that I had started thinking differently. Instead of saying "I grew up without a father," I say, "My father chose to not be in my life." It takes the victim label right off of me. Instead of saying, "I wasn't good enough for him," I say, "He chose to never know me, and that choice has nothing to do with me as a person."

Next, I realized that I can actually say there are some positives that came from such a horrible situation. My mom married an amazing man, who I call dad, and his family became my own. That wouldn't have happened if my father had chosen to be in my life. I'm also much stronger than I would have been had my father been there, because I know I can handle anything and come out okay. I am starting to build a life that I love and share my peace with the world. None of this would have happened if he had been in my life.

I used my creativity to help heal. As a songwriter, it's how I process and get through things. I wrote a song and filmed a music video called "A Letter 2 My Younger Self (Fatherless Sons). Over the 36 hours we filmed the video, I lived in that fatherless world of pain. Once it was complete though, I had the biggest smile on my face knowing that it could reach others, and maybe help them on their paths to letting go, too. It reached 100,000 views in its fourth week.

I teamed up with MSNBC's Veronica De La Cruz and Art Alexakis of Everclear to start the Stand Up, Man Up campaign, which seeks to promote responsible fatherhood. With this campaign, I get to speak with other fatherless sons (and mothers raising them), while putting my energy into creating positive change. This has been hugely therapeutic for me.

I'm beginning to really love who I am. I can honestly say that I never felt that way before. In fact, it was impossible for me. You can't truly love yourself if you haven't forgiven those who have hurt you so badly. And you can't truly love yourself when you're allowing yourself to hold onto what's slowly killing your spirit. Make no mistake about it, when you hold onto your pain, you are killing your spirit.

When the show aired, I got thousands of tweets, emails and messages from people thanking me for telling my story and for helping them to realize how they had been hurt, too. I got many requests for advice from mothers raising fatherless sons. I got requests from fatherless sons themselves, asking how I did it. It was then that I realized that this was my duty, my calling. I was supposed to go through this to help give a voice to others who are going through it themselves. It is my job to help them know that they, too, can be okay.

So what can you do to begin the process of letting go? What tools have you been given in your life? Are you a writer who can write it all out? Are you an athlete who thinks best during a run? Do you have a few hours a week to volunteer helping others in your situation? Whatever it is, you deserve to heal from the pain that is holding you back from being your true self -- and it is your job to find those tools and use them.

It's not mathematical or scientific. There is no rule book, no button you can push, no drug you can take that automatically erases the pain. You are the artist. The canvas is there for you. Pick up the tools. You owe it to yourself. This is what I call the art of letting go.

Kyle made his fourth appearance on Oprah's Lifeclass, Sunday at 8 p.m. on OWN. For additional resources, check out the Oprah's Lifeclass Fatherless Sons and Daddyless Daughters page.

For more by Kyle McMahon, click here.

For more on love and relationships, click here.

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