January 8, 2014

On Truth and Bravery

Writing often opens hidden doors for me.

I've been writing a lot lately. Something happens to me when I'm writing in an unfamiliar world; buried stuff begins to surface. I'm beginning to see a huge connection between loose writing and what I'm trying to make sense of in the real world. It opens wounds I didn't realize were there and reveals what I need to work on. Truth is beautiful and deadly.


Yes, because often when I'm faced with truth, a death has to happen to my old belief. If I always believed I was incapable of living a healthy life, then I must let that thought die and grab onto the new one that I can choose to live better. In the midst of being honest, I have to let go of what's not true. When a wrong belief surfaces and I tell the truth about it, death begins to happen. My old beliefs don't have the voice they once did and if I continue to tell the truth, soon my old beliefs fall silent in their graves.

It's not easy to tell the truth. It's difficult to face what we may have held as truth for a long time that we suddenly realize is a lie. Sometimes when this happens I want to sit down and quit. But when the truth turns on the light to the lies, it's extremely hard to go backwards and sometimes that makes me furious. Sitting on the side of the road feeling sorry for yourself gets you nowhere. It's just a tantrum. 

I've been prone to self-pity and inward tantrums throughout my life. In the past year I've worked catching myself in the midst of these tantrums and telling the truth. It's not easy to hear and sometimes I want to wrap myself in self-condemnation and poor-me's so I don't have to face the truth that I have a choice. The truth is I don't have to stay here on the side of the road. I can get up. I can face that fear, mistake or failure. What's going to happen when I do? What is the worst that can happen? That's the question I've started asking myself when I come to this crossroads. I sit there naming all that could happen ~ from the realistic to the ridiculous ~ and then, I tell the truth.

I can get up. I can take the first step and admit I'm wrong. I can do the thing I fear. I can move forward with shaking legs and trembling fingers.

Bravery is not the absence of fear, but the moving forward in spite of it.

Since we're talking about truth here, I'll be honest; I don't feel very brave. I'm the sort that would rather run than fight. But I've been standing lately, in spite of trembling on the spot. I'm learning what standing in the middle of fear feels like. It's terrifying. But it's also strengthening.

To accomplish what you need to, we must face our fear, forehead to forehead. Shaking, sweating and shivering; stand firm and tell the truth. The truth that yes you've failed. No, you're not who you want to be but you can change. Or maybe the truth that you have accomplished beautiful things and you're not a failure. Embrace that part of you that you've long held at a distance. Wrap your arms around it and pull it in close, choosing to make it part of your story.

Can you guess what word I've chosen for the year? In case it's not obvious, my word is brave. As cliche as that may be, it's what I need in my life. I'm aware now that my biggest fears will be realized; I will look stupid, be wrong, be misunderstood and unloved. But I will also grow, be right, be understood and loved.

Sometimes the bravest thing about living life is knowing we have the capacity to be terrified and brave; then telling the truth about it.

Have you wrestled with truth? Have you come forehead to forehead with fear?


  1. oh Catherine! one of my favorite post so far!!!
    love the honesty and the gritty reality of thrashing about with our immature self and our self that longs to live above water...for once!
    your right...sometimes the truth is deadly
    I have come to realize that just like the fall...death is necessary to make room for new life...the new life of spring
    and in between there is the winter...or the grief as I have come to call it
    grief is an honouring of something coming to its end and a time to rest and reflect and remember...each stage as important as the next...

    I LOVE your word
    it is exciting and terrifying all at once
    but I am full of trust that it has come to you at the right time
    when you need it the most
    and you know what
    just because you don't feel brave...does not mean you are not brave
    I have been with you for a few years now and I have witness out bursts of bravery from you every now and again...it is so in there sister
    and now it is ready to take center stage
    how cool is that????

    Happy New Year friend
    love and light

    ps come see me for my word of the year...eeek!

    1. Wow, thank you, Cat! Your encouragement is always beautiful.

  2. So true. what else is there except the choice between standing in the discomfort or avoiding. We got to great lengths to avoid - all sorts of elaborate plots and twist to do so. but naming and facing the fears? now that takes real courage. Loving your work and your writing. so glad I came upon you via a comment you wrote on a coffee syrup making blog post (of all places - clearly we have more in common than we know!) xx

    1. Thank you for your kind comment, Sarah. It seems we're like-minded souls. :)


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