What good are my wings, if I lack the courage to fly?
The dictionary definition of courage is the ability to do something that frightens one-bravery. And strength in the face of pain and grief.
I’ve never thought of myself as particularly courageous and some people I deemed as courageous- have shown themselves as not being especially brave, all things considered. I’ve mentioned in a previous post that strength and courage are two very different things. My example being- someone who stays in a situation because they feel it’s the right thing to do rather than pursue their real desires is strong BUT someone who can make the difficult move regardless of how hard that maybe, is courageous.
Strength is picking yourself up off the floor and getting on with things by ignoring how you feel. Courage is picking yourself up off the floor and getting on with things AFTER you’ve sat with the pain, healed, learnt and grown. Sought help in need.
On my path to healing and growth, I have come to the startling realisation that I am in fact strong but more than that- I am courageous and I would like to explain how I’ve come to this place.
First of all it’s not been easy. In fact it’s been f*cking hard. It’s been so brutally painful that at times I’ve almost given up but I knew there was so much more I had to give and learn. There was so much more I had to do. I also realised, that to those in my life, I am not only important but special and very much loved.
So what have I done that is courageous? This is my list that I believe epitomises courage. Not courage like a soldier in the field of battle or policeman stepping into a dangerous situation. I’m referring to the inner courage of life-what we do as human beings to be better people.
I would also like to say that I think those who battle mental illness are incredibly courageous. I think the ridiculous notion by some that those who suffer mental illness are somehow weak shows not only a lack of understanding but a complete lack of emotional intelligence and a very limited belief system. I respect and honour those who wage a private battle within themselves every minute of everyday just to complete the tasks most of us take for granted. Having suffered myself in the past, I know the courage it takes to get up everyday. If we could only replace ignorance with compassion and kindness what a difference that would make!
Three years ago I made a decision that would forever change my life. It threw me onto an uncertain path but ultimately became my catalyst for growth and change. When I ended my almost 30yr relationship, there was enormous emotion surrounding it. My courage in this, was finally speaking my truth and having the most difficult conversation of my life– to leave my marriage.
It was the sacrifices I made and there were many! But with every difficult decision and choice, there are always sacrifices. It was knowing my financial position would significantly change but understanding fulfilling my soul will always be far more important then money- we all know money does not bring you happiness. I am the prime example of this quote! I was in an excellent financial position and I walked away from it all. Why? Because I would rather have less money and be authentically and respectfully true to myself. It was knowing that some friendships and familial relationships would be irrevocably different or even lost and as heart breaking as that was I had to be honest.
The freedom and self love that comes from complete honesty with who you are and what you want is worth more than any amount of money and a few changed relationships.
It was about taking a chance on a new life, with all the fears and risking everything I had ever known for a new beginning. For a chance of happiness and growth. It was having blind faith and trust, without any certainty or security. It was being completely open to my heart and soul and doing everything I said I would. Actions always speak louder than words. I made promises and I kept them. I followed my soul and I kept my word, and regardless of outcomes, I stand in my courage.
I cannot remember what a comfort zone is! Everything I have done over the past 3 years has been so far out of my comfort zone! And for that I have been rewarded with heartache, pain, hurt, sadness, loss, confusion, frustration, chaos, disappointment and grief. BUT on the flip side I have also gained self-belief, confidence, independence, trust in myself, inner love, a huge amount of growth, success, creativity, passion, a feeling of peace and the power to be completely who I am without any fear of judgment.
I have fallen on my sword more than once. I’ve been completely honest and bared my soul, I’ve apologised for any hurt I have caused. We are all human and we make mistakes and sometimes we cause pain to others but the courageous piece is being truthful. Acknowledging what’s happened and accepting any role you have played. Unmasking all the bullshit, any lies, any deceit any secrets to those that need to hear it and genuinely apologising. Some people never gain the courage to do this and that forever leaves them trapped by their own weaknesses and an inability to live authentically – that would have to be one of the saddest ways to live.
I have tripped over and stumbled plenty of times. And I have curled up into a ball and sobbed until I collapsed in bed from emotional exhaustion. How is that courageous you maybe thinking? Vulnerability is courage. If you cannot allow yourself to feel your pain, to come face to face with it, to acknowledge your own toxic traits and then to start the journey and process of healing WITHOUT the whole toxic positivity crap and without burying and bypassing it- then you hide your vulnerability and you lack the courage to be honest with yourself and others. You hide your darkness and without darkness, you have no light.
I have learnt that hiding parts of ourselves may allow us to get through life for a period of time and maybe we can even think we are happy, but it’s all a facade. Courage is standing in front of the mirror and owning every f*cking shadow. Courage is standing naked in front of your loved ones (metaphorically speaking) and letting them see your darkness. Your insecurities. Your failings. Your fears. It’s sharing secrets. Hiding anything may prove to be a strength but it ultimately destroys parts of you and to heal and be the real and raw human that you are meant to be- you need to gain your courage.
Real courage is steeped in truth. It’s living your life and doing everything you do from a place of honesty. It’s putting your ego aside and seeing things-your behaviour and the behaviour of others, as it truly is. It’s conceding and addressing anything and everything you may have done- owning it and allowing anyone that it affects to make their own decisions about it. Courage is never deceptive or manipulative (that’s an out of control and unchecked ego), but courage is making amends to anyone you may have treated this way.
As humans we have this ability to convince ourselves that it’s best to omit part of a story or worse, be untruthful when confronted- because we are “protecting another”. In most cases this is complete bullshit we are protecting ourselves from what that truth could do to us. We’ve all done this in life, some much bigger omissions and untruths than others- but an omission is no different than a lie and that shit always has a way of coming out. Be brave and be honest.
Courage is feeling your negative emotions- not pretending they don’t exist. Courage is admitting when you are in pain. Courage is accepting that you won’t always feel happy and that’s ok because we have a range of emotions and they are all meant to be felt. Courage is saying sorry- a genuine heartfelt sorry when you f*ck up. Courage is the ability to hold space and love for another even if they’ve devastatingly hurt you because ultimately the love you feel is your love-love for you. There is beauty in the bravery of letting go with grace and dignity to what no longer is meant to be in your life.
I see different forms of courage everyday. Those brave people that work to protect us. Those that will step in to help someone when they are being bullied or hurt. Those willing to stand up for another. And the list goes on. All so very admirable.
But show me someone who is willing to be completely honest. Who is willing to show who they really are. Who is willing to be vulnerable and admit to their mistakes and walk the journey of real healing. Who will have those really hard f*cking conversations and stumble through all the pain that comes with it, because they know the greater goal will eventually be worth it. Who is willing to follow their heart and soul regardless of what society or anyone in it says. Who is willing to live completely unmasked and transparent in a world that encourages ego and facades. In a world that often forgets what TRUTH really is.
Show me someone like this and I will say they epitomise the true meaning of courage.
“Vulnerability is not winning or losing. It’s having the courage to show up when you can’t control the outcome”.