Let it Out

“So tonight, gotta leave that nine-to-five upon the shelf and just

enjoy yourself. Groove, let the madness in the music get to you.

Life ain’t so bad at all if you live it off the wall.” 

Michael Jackson (“Off the Wall”)  

As I approached my 40th birthday, there were a lot of things that I was proud of, but there were some moments that, perhaps, I wish I could have omitted. After a long night of drinking, more times than I care to admit, I have felt the need to relieve myself in some form in order to get to sleep––or as a friend of mine says, “Fight off a bad case of the whirlies[t he birds that fly around your head when you’re dizzy].”

The older I get, the more I realize that I have to listen to my body. I’ve found out the hard way that sometimes your body will naturally and instinctively relieve itself. Other times, this process has to be induced. Either way, there comes a point when you have to do what you have to do. I’ve had to get “it” out, one way or another so I could feel better and sleep for the next day. I’m not saying this because it’s a source of pride or because I ever want to experience this. But the reality is, it happens. And once you are there, you have to figure out what you are going to do. 

The most recent incident, or shall I say the time I am willing to share, happened while I was catching up with friends in Washington, DC. What started out as meeting up for casual drinks off U Street ended up looking like an excerpt from The Hangover movies, Parts I, II, and III. On most nights like this, there is usually that moment when the little person on my shoulder says, “Enough is enough!” or asks, “What the hell are you doing?” And on this night, that happened around 2:00 am. At that same moment, I realized that I had not eaten anything for 12 hours. Epic fail!

When I was younger, I used to think you could only get drunk by consuming too much alcohol. Actually, there are numerous ways you can get drunk that have less to do with the amount you drink and more to do with factors such as what you’ve eaten, how much water you’ve had, whether you’re drinking cheap liquor, or if you mix light and dark liquors. Any number of things can expedite the intoxication process beyond simply the amount of alcohol consumed. It’s also important to remember that moderation has its place. 

Needless to say, at 2:00 am, it was beyond time for me to go. But rather than going to find something to eat (and trust me, there is nothing healthy to eat at that time of morning), I just caught a Lyft to my hotel to get some rest. Once I arrived at my hotel room, I convinced myself that if I took a shower and drank some water, it would be all good. But before I could try to sober up, my body decided it was time to “let it out.” I knew that needed to happen, but I was in denial about the possibility of it happening as I was preparing to lie down with a trash can next to the bed. 

Once my body relieved itself, I felt a little better and was happy to get some of those toxins out so I could fall asleep. Of course, the next morning was a little rough, but not as rough as the night before. 

Like drinking, life presents us with any number of issues that can inhibit our ability to function at our full potential in our work environments, relationships, and family responsibilities. When we are faced with these occurrences, how do we deal with them? Do we talk about them and find healthy outlets? Or do we internalize them, pretend they’re no big deal, ignore them, or lash out? 

More often than not, we do nothing; and after so much time, these small day-to-day things can add up. Before you know it, stress, anger, fatigue, resentment, or other emotions have set in. 

There comes a time when we have to let these feeling and energy out in some way. There are many ways people can let it out. Some of my favorite methods include exercise, writing or journaling, therapy, and masturbation. Whatever way you choose, you have to find a healthy way to let it out, because if you continue to hold these things in, they will become toxic and cancerous. Sooner or later, your body will let you know that enough is enough, and it won’t be as simple to clean up as taking a shower, eating a meal, taking medicine, drinking water, or whatever most people do to alleviate their hangovers.

Just like the hangover that comes after a long night of drinking, you might have collateral damage after letting it out. You might need to mend relationships, have difficult conversations that are long overdue, reevaluate life goals, and maybe end a friendship or a partnership. Ultimately, you have to take care of you, because if you don’t take care of you, you can’t help anyone else. 

A couple of years ago, a friend stopped by my office to say hello, but her visit quickly turned into a venting session about her mom, her new husband, and several other things that had her feeling lost and resentful. I listened to her for about 30 minutes and then had to stop her and ask a few questions. “When was the last time you were on an airplane? Puzzled, she said, “About a month ago. Why?” I mentioned the presentation that the flight attendants give before takeoff. “What do you do when the mask drops and you have your son with you?” “I put mine on first,” she said. Then she smiled and said, “I get it, Tim! I have to take care of me first.” 

I was happy she had taken the time to express herself, but she was venting to the wrong person. She needed to be expressing these frustrations to her husband and her mother so they could understand her feelings of exasperation. 

Letting it out is just a necessity of life. While I’m making light of the process of relieving myself after a long night of drinking, the reality is that we all know of times when we have had to just get something off our chests and then felt a lot better after we did it. Whether we’re venting to friends about something they did to upset us, arguing with a partner about not making up the bed, or letting out a yell before a workout, it is imperative to just let it out.

I would argue that keeping things bottled up is worse than the many unhealthy toxins you ingest after drinking because many times bottled-up feelings cause stress, resentment, anger, hurt, and other ill effects. These are not beneficial and can affect your physical and mental health as well as your peace of mind. Life is too short to keep things bottled up, so find a way to express yourself, and let it out so you can rest well without the whirly birds, nausea, fatigue, and bullshit that life can sometimes bring.