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Letting go on the back of a Harley down Death Valley




Tight curvy mountain roads, speeding at an undisclosed mph, I hold onto my friend as the bike leans right, leans left, leans right again, kicks into higher gear past a car. Focus on your breathing Rachael “, I say to myself. “Don’t look down, don’t look up, look ahead”. “Breathe, breathe, breathe, center on the bike, don’t fuck up the driver, hold on, relax, let go.”

This was the exercise I signed up for. Trusting a man, trusting another human being, having no control, other than of myself. Allowing another human being to take care of me without expecting “the thing” in return. Surrendering myself, being in the moment, and enjoying the beauty and amazement of the landscape was the practice. As we sped down the highway at times I was in awe of what I saw from the back seat of this loud Harley motorcycle, and how at ease I was. Other times I thought, am I too comfortable taking this risk? I have real responsibilities. Holy shit! My heart rate increased as we took the curvy roads, speeding past slow vehicles, blasting a random playlist (including AC/DC Highway to Hell) going down down down windy mountain roads the 5000 feet to the bottom. I thought, “Nope, I’m not too comfortable. And I don’t want to be. I want to live, experience, grow, and I want the boys to do the same. Living the width and depth of life along with its length.”

For a moment I felt guilt. Lots of it. Putting all my responsibilities aside for 48 hours, missing the boys terribly, making the best of travel and time. But with both kiddos crushing it at school and therapies, amazing hive around them, and plenty of FaceTime snuggles, I let that guilt go. They are ok, more than ok. They are friggin’ amazing! 3 weeks ago I told them I let a certain relationship go because someone didn’t treat me right. 2 weeks ago, my 6 year old autistic son with a communications disability, communicated to a caregiver a beef he had with him, verbalized the situation, his feelings and his boundaries better than most adults I know. Heck, better than me. They are having a fun sleepover with Tutti. I think it’s going to be just fine.


Letting go. It’s so hard to do. Not having control. We try so much to have control in our lives. We fight for it, fight over it, maneuver and manipulate to feel more of it, thinking our anxiety will calm down if we can just control a little more. Maybe if I can gain power over the shit that fucks me up, it wouldn’t happen, I could stop it. I can prevent it. I can outsmart it. Nice thought. My inner yoda chuckles and says, “Enjoy that downward spiral to nowhere”. Part of me is amused at my own fleeting and hopeless attempt at this loop. But I try like hell anyways.


The practice of letting go the need to control is becoming more and more part of the recovery journey. Learning how to do it. Practicing it. Being confident enough to do it. Knowing that even when I stumble, even when it’s on stage in a spotlight, I can get back up. . . and then laugh at myself. Embracing the unknown, the uncontrolled, ambiguous, uncertain future, with open arms. Calling the trauma talk in my mind out on the carpet, she’s just talking shit from pain. Letting my inner female rap artist perform. Taking the leap. Letting go. That is when the most amazing things happen. That is where the true power lies. I have to remind myself of this now and again. And often times, I need help along the way.


A journey of a million steps and stumbles. And in this case, a motorcycle, a recovery friend, and an exhale. . . under the bright stars of a desert sky.

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