Sometimes even when we think we’ve moved on from difficult events in life, we somehow keep holding on to things that remind us of what it was like back then. Or in my case, things that helped me through it.
I bought a Jeep when I was twenty-one. It was my first car that I’d bought by myself and although I fell in love with it instantly, it was a foolish decision from the start. I found it on craigslist for a couple thousand dollars, and it literally died in a cloud of smoke ten minutes after driving away from the sale. Most people probably would have returned and demanded their money back, but I was already attached to it and was embarrassed that I was naïve enough to think that I had gotten a good deal. Long story short, I had it towed and ended up getting almost the entire engine replaced.
Thousands of dollars later, my Jeep was up and running beautifully, and it was my pride and joy. I drove it on many road trips, and across the country when I moved between states. It worked wonders in the snow and mud, and I always felt safe while driving it. It was and still is, an incredibly sturdy car. Then after a couple of years it started having problems – battery, alternator, power steering, transmission, brakes – I continued to pour money into it, and things just kept breaking. I was told this happened to jeeps a lot – obviously I could see this was an up-hill battle, but it was my first car and I refused to give up on it.
I let this go on for years. Then my life took a turn for the worse, and I went through an abusive relationship. Things went from uncertain to rocky to scary, all within a period of a few months. My Jeep had had trouble starting up for a while, and even after replacing different parts I knew that sometimes there were still tips and tricks it needed to work. More than once I had to call for help. But then on the night that I finally scooped up my belongings and left my ex, it started up on the first try. I can still feel the shaky relief flooding my body when that engine turned over. For the next week and a half I lived out of my car, because I was too ashamed to ask a friend for a place to stay. That entire week the jeep had zero problems. It was the only place I knew was a safe space when my life felt like it was crumbling around me. It may have had its faults and problems and numerous times when I felt stranded, but somehow, someway, when I needed it the most, it was the most reliable it had ever been for me.
Three years later, I have since moved states again and recently have had more costly problems with my Jeep. Being in a place financially where I felt I could finally afford a more reliable car, I bought a used Toyota to commute to work. In the rational side of my brain I told myself I would just sell the jeep and be rid of it, since I didn’t need it anymore. But here’s the catch – I know I don’t need it, I know it’s costing me money, I know it’s not sensible at all to keep it, but I just can’t seem to let it go. It’s been “for sale” for months, but each time someone asks me about it, I find some excuse as to why I still want it in my life.
Where do you draw the line between allowing this kind of emotional attachment for your own comfort, and cutting yourself off because it’s irrational and expensive? It could be argued that it’s unhealthy to keep it, because clearly it reminds me of a stressful time in my life. While I acknowledge that it does remind me of that time, to me it’s more so how I was able to survive on what I had and eventually muster up the courage to ask for help.
I know I need to let it go. I’m lucky enough to be in a place where I’m not struggling to pay my bills anymore, but having it gone would definitely reduce my expenses. I know it’s an inanimate object and it is never going to love me back. I know how ridiculous it sounds to be so attached. But the fact remains that it was there for me when I needed help and a place to sleep, and those memories are seared into my mind.
So how do we let go? I’m working on it, and I know that slowly but surely I will move forward. For me I think it has do with forgiveness, and acceptance that I’m in a better place now than I was all those years ago. I no longer need the escape route that I needed then. I’m okay. I can let it go.