Courage Comes in Many Forms
I am having a hard time letting go. I have spent much of the last year trying to cut you out of my heart and pretending that I never opened it to you. That isn’t working so well. So, I’m going to try something new. I’m going to make room for you in my heart so I can learn to move on. Denying your existence is neither helpful nor honest.
This year has been full of ups and downs. But, I have learned a great deal about myself. Yes, I miss having my friend to talk to and lean on once in a while. I miss your music, your smile, and your laughter.
I have never felt worthy of being loved or accepted as I am. I did my best to fit in, but never truly belonged anywhere. That is why I did not fully accept or appreciate what you offered me. I found a quote that puts it perfectly: “In relationships, we are given threads. We can use these threads to weave webs to trap others or to weave blankets of support.” I know that I did try to support you, but in my fear of rejection and not belonging, I also tried to force you into something that you didn’t want. In essence, I trapped and suffocated you.
I have such a deep-seated sense of shame about how defective I am that I was scared you would see through me and reject me. I was scared to be vulnerable and so tried to be the person I thought you wanted and needed rather than allow you to see how unworthy of you I am. But, how can I expect anyone to accept me, when I can’t even accept myself? I very badly want to find a place in the world where I belong, but am learning that that isn’t possible unless I am authentic and am accepted as myself.
I was scared. I used my fear as an excuse to shut you out of important parts of myself so that you wouldn’t have any reason to reject me. I tired you out with demands that didn’t always reflect what I wanted, but what I thought other people expected. I didn’t understand the damage that my past has done to my sense of self-worth. I did not know how to communicate any of this to you.
I remember something that my parents constantly said when I tried to tell them when something was bothering me: “Stop being so sensitive!” I learned that admitting vulnerability was just more evidence of how defective I am. I also learned at a very young age that I would be abandoned if I did not follow my parents’ beliefs. I suppressed what I thought and felt. I am trying to learn how to change a lifetime of habits.
I have felt intense and terrifying shame. There are times when I literally do not know what to do with it and am truly scared. I have wished I would not awaken in the morning. This had nothing to do with giving up on life, and everything to do with being so defective that even you couldn’t stand to be around me. I hated myself so much that I just didn’t know what to do or where to turn.
I found a guardian angel. She helped me recognize some of the things that I do to sabotage my happiness. I didn’t even realize that I was doing them. With her help and a great deal of reading, I am learning to be kinder to myself. I am learning that I don’t have to be perfect and that it is okay to make mistakes. I am learning that I am not as rational as I thought I was and that being emotional neither means that I am weak, nor makes me weak. I am learning that I have a strong sense of spirituality which is nourished with nature and I am learning the benefits of mindfulness. I am learning that I must be true to myself and need to let others see me as I really am. I am learning that, while sadness and loneliness are a part of my life, they do not have to control it and that I can still find happiness and joy. I am learning that my curiosity and creativity very badly need an outlet. I am learning that I do not have to be ruled by shame and that being vulnerable is scary, but that it helps to control the shame. I am learning that I must reach out for help when I need it. Most importantly, I am learning that I am resilient and can survive.
I have been a badly cracked person for as long as I can remember. When you abandoned our friendship, the cracks that I had tried to cover widened until I broke. But, in breaking, I found a space in which to rebuild myself. I learned that something which was broken can be stronger and more beautiful when it is rebuilt. I am embracing experiences and challenges and limits and loss to become better and stronger than I was. To allow my imperfections to tell the story of how I am picking up the pieces of my life to make something new, and hopefully better. “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in” (Leonard Cohen). I have arrived at a place where I can learn to let the light in, to rebuild, and be stronger than before. I can now recognize that I practice ordinary courage every day when I fight to find all of the pieces of myself and figure out how they fit. This will be a lifelong journey, but now that I’ve started, I don’t plan to stop. Some days are easier than others, but even the bad days usually contain a triumph of some sort. I have you to thank for that. And because of that I will stop trying to cut you out of my heart and I will keep a special place for my memories of you.