The Arena: Courage to Dare Greatly (Dear Cookie Monster)

The Arena: Courage to Dare Greatly

Dear All of You,

I (25) didn’t write yesterday because I didn’t want to just be a filler.

I’m also terrified of talking to Twenty-Three (23).

I feel that she’s like Fifteen (15), but her depression is on steroids.

Her entire world has just been turned upside down. She is alone in that house unable to get out of bed or see a future that makes sense. Her parents come into her room to try to make her get up.  Their approaches vary: being a hard-ass (ripping off the sheets and demanding she gets up – mostly mom), acting sympathetic (helping her throw a pity party – also mostly mom, occasionally dad), or trying to reason with her (making her come to terms with reality using rational logic – mostly dad).

All she knows are those sour-smelling sheets she hides under, hating the sunlight, crying, and praying that this life could just be over already.

Yeah, I don’t want to go anywhere near that.

It’s not that I don’t like her (I love her to death), I’m just worried that she will overwhelm me with her sadness. I’ve managed to squash most of that, although it still comes up sometimes.

OK, a lot.

On most days, it’s like playing whack-a-mole. I shove down one memory or feeling and then another one pops up. I pretend none of it happened, use ambiguous wording when I have to talk about it, or laugh it off when there’s no way to avoid it because if I don’t laugh I’ll cry.

I don’t want her to remind me about everything and make me cry.

I’m afraid I won’t ever stop crying. I don’t want to remember what happened at school, at the hospital, on the bus, in that car, that apartment, with friends, with my family, with the creepy predators that preyed upon me in my state of weakness, with the sadistic health care workers who hated their jobs and took it out on me, with the people I hurt who were only trying to help.

It all just makes me feel unclean, horrified with myself and this world, mortified beyond being able to put into words, and completely and utterly grief-stricken all the way down to my core and then some.

It just makes me want to crawl into a hole and die.

I was on the bus today looking at all the strange apartment buildings, tons of them rising up eerily into the quickly darkening sky, seeing the words I can’t read, and seeing eyes flit to my face because people who look like me make up less than 1% of the population here.

And I just felt so far away. And sad.

I’ve banished myself from my own home, my own entire country, because I don’t want to be anywhere near where all of that happened.

I’m going to be sad no matter what I do. A terrible horrible thing happened that made me feel so violated and hopeless and alone. I might never stop being sad about that.

But I can choose whether or not I suffer.

How I choose to react and live my life after everything that happened is in my hands. I can’t shut down my feelings and pretend that it never happened. But I can be brave and face it. I may (will definitely) suffer for a (hopefully not too long) while if I choose to do this, but it’s better than suffering for the rest of my life. I’ve already suffered so much, what’s a bit more? Besides, living with unresolved grief is already a special kind of suffering.

I met women and men in treatment in their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s. Not getting over this, always being like this, is a definite possibility.

I can’t wait for the natural maturation that comes with age to bring me to my senses. That may work for some people, but not for me. Not for those men and women. I don’t want to be 30 (which is only 5 years away), 40, 50, or 60 and still being afraid of what happened and everything that reminds me of it. I don’t want to wait until I’m better to start living my life. I can’t wait until everything is perfect.

It’s never going to be perfect. I never had a shot at perfect.

Maybe no one does, although Instagram and Facebook beg to differ. I just have to get out there and be a mess. I can’t wait until I’m bulletproof.

Brené Brown read a quote by Theodore Roosevelt during one of her Ted Talks that sums up my aspirations quite nicely:

“It is not the critic who counts;

not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena,

whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst,

if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

I don’t want to be in the stands anymore watching people dare greatly while I am either critical or envious. I want to be in there rather than hiding out here.

So, I’m going to end this letter now. No more stalling.

Twenty-Three (23), I now enter the arena and call upon you to be brave and do the same. This is terrifying, but you and I are both so strong and courageous. We have been through so many things together, so I know that to be irrevocably true. Bravery is not about being fearless, but rather about facing your fears.

So, come out from the shadows and into the light. Let me see you and tell me what you can.

Sincerely,

4

Ana (25)

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