I’ve been writing quite a few of these letters lately. It’s where I’m at… things are a bit hectic as I work through my current life’s challenges and I find that it helps keep me grounded to dig into myself and process old wounds. It’s not fun… but after the initial pain of rehashing, it gets easier. And it tames the memories. That’s the most important part. Because old feelings left unprocessed will haunt relentlessly like a ghost left without justice.
So I dig up some of those memories that still hold pain or self berating (you’d be surprised at how many of these have accumulated over the decades) and I give myself space and time to lean into them. It sucks. Let me tell you that. But you should know that I don’t blame you for not doing this. You weren’t in a place that was safe to do so. As you read this, you might think that you are brave enough to try anyway. But your understanding of the term “brave” and my own understanding are very different now.
I used to think that being brave meant fighting back… or doing risky things… looking death in the face and standing my ground. I always knew that a person needed to feel fear to be brave… you got that one early on. But somehow for you, brave has always meant some act of defiance. Am I right? “Better to die fighting” is your motto. Every inch of you is a scrapper. I am proud of your tenacity and sheer willpower. You grab life by the horns and wrestle it into submission. It’s how you handle all that fear. Which definitely makes you a type of brave – I’ll give you that.
There’s another kind of brave that I’ll call “Deep Courage”. Deep courage is foreign to you and as you read this, it’s going to make you feel repulsed. If you are paying attention, you may even notice your upper lip curling a little… perhaps your nostrils flaring. You will feel betrayed. That’s okay… forge on.
Here you go: Being deeply courageous means sometimes surrendering.
Remember back in my letter about therapy? How the only way to face that ocean of terror is to let go of control and let it happen?
Well, it’s more than that. Letting a feeling happen will be a good step. However, surrendering to the feeling will take you to a whole new place. A place where the feeling doesn’t need action. Where you feel no blame or judgment. Anger is unclothed to reveal fear and sadness… and loss. And eventually, at the heart of it, love.
Sounds like New Age bullshit, doesn’t it? Yeah, I know. But I’ve lived this. It’s been a long journey with so many stumbles… with moments where I felt like I was fighting for my life. And you know what? I was. Because what you are doing right now, Kid, is surviving. You haven’t learned how to really live yet. You haven’t had a chance to. You’re too busy trying to protect yourself – with good fucking reason.
You don’t trust people yet. You think you do. But most of what you feed them is lies. Because you are still scared of being betrayed. And betrayal is worse than a knife wound. Right now, the level of vulnerability that is required for deep courage is out of your reach. And you know what? Even today, I still struggle with this. I’m no fucking Buddha. It’s a daily effort and one I fail at more often than I succeed. But that’s okay. Because I know where it is and I know I can get there. All I need is space and time… and trust.
That’s the path, Kiddo. Buckle up that armor and get back out there. You have a road to walk.