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Friday, March 26, 2010

Courage and Fear, Considered

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If you or anyone you know is having a crisis and feeling alone or potentially unsafe, please consider using one of these resources. You'll notice there are organizations around the globe, including LGBT-targeted groups like PFLAG, and groups for survivors of different kinds of violence.

Here's a link to a list of resources.

Please know that I care, and many people in your life care. It's a sign of true strength to reach out if you're hurting; people want to offer their support. You are NOT alone.


Courage. For some, the word conjures images of fearlessness, striding boldly into hair-raising situations with nary a pause. I consider such actions foolhardy, even reckless, but certainly not courageous.

Instead, I see courage as the ember within that propels us forward, despite whatever fear with which we may be wrestling. Taking action, despite fear, is the ultimate act of courage. Sometimes it really is as simple as “Action = Courage.”

Fear is an issue deserving of contemplation, just as courage is. Given our biology, we humans have the potential for a very real, nearly visceral manifestation of fear. The adrenaline-fueled fight-or-flight syndrome is a phenomenon we all have encountered, and some of us know it better than most.

Looking back over the last few months, I can see that it has been fear that has challenged me most powerfully. The sense of overwhelming dread, the message that it was not safe to remember – these took on a sense of a paramount importance. I am thankful that my awareness has shifted, and I realize that only through facing these fears head-on can I heal the underlying issues.

The work ahead promises to be messy, and sometimes so painful that breathing itself becomes difficult. However, I am willing to move forward, into and through the pain, so that I may emerge (eventually) on the other side of it. Rather like a trip to the Underworld, this journey will be filled with darkness. However, my belief in myself, my strength, and my faith are bolstered. I have a renewed sense of knowingness; everything happens for a reason.

I know this journey will not be without struggles. I grant myself the compassion to move through these struggles without undue self-flagellation. Historically, I have always been hardest on myself, and least willing to forgive my own weaknesses. That view has been revised, however, to allow for the truth that sometimes what we perceive as weaknesses can instead be strengths.

Without my life experiences, I wouldn’t have the same deep sense of empathy. Surviving that which should not have been survivable has given me deep insight into human nature, and what it takes to turn suffering into compassion. Each day, each moment offers a choice. I have allowed myself to be “stuck” in fear long enough. I will move forward with deliberation, despite fears that I encounter in my journey.

I will acknowledge the fear, give thanks for the information, and yet refuse to be held captive by fears whose origins are rooted in events long since gone by. Those who hurt me long ago can no longer hurt me. I need not battle my abusers, per se – karma inevitably works, and I can trust that the energy they put out has returned to them.

Instead, my challenge is to work through my fear, let myself see the full truth of my past, and grieve the very real losses. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? Yet, it will be some of the hardest work I’ve ever done. This work, however, will also yield deep healing on a level heretofore considered impossible, or at least improbable.

And so, the work continues…