I have been told I am brave for doing this. I have been writing about who and what I am, and what I stand for and believe, and about my scars and wounds with honesty for nearing two years now, under the protection of a journal where I could pick and choose who could see. Stepping out into the open on this blog has felt like emerging from a cave and being blinded by a sun I do not recognize. And that stepping out has been labeled “brave”.
I do not like that word, and I disagree with the assessment. But I could not pinpoint why. And since, in the past, my issues with words have come down to my definition of the word not evolving alongside popular definitions, I decided to look into etymology (the study of the origin of words). I swear if you are still reading this, this post will not be as boring as this paragraph is making it out to be.
Like a lot of etymology, the actual origins of “brave” are unknown, so there are conflicting accounts. Some of the origins are more expected, like the French “splendid”. But the mixture of Latin, Spanish, and Italian roots yield something more interesting: savage, cutthroat, depraved, crooked, defiant, wild.
It was not brave of me to start this blog. Just as it was not brave of me to fall in love and give myself away. It was not brave of me to oath and dedicate myself to Zagreus. It was not brave of me to drop out of art school when it no longer was working for me, or to come out of the closet with my family regarding my religious views and sexual orientation. It was not brave of me to move halfway across the country and risk my entire life, and it was not brave of me to set on a path towards healing myself, nor to transforming and creating a life I want.
Those instances in my life where people comment that I was brave, are the exact instances of my life where I was the furthest from it.
In the last week of this past November, I had a breakthrough. I have somniphobia, which is a fear of sleeping. One of the reasons is because of my dreams. I wind up doing spiritwork in that state, and I have no control over it. I am a control freak with major trust issues, so letting go in any fashion is extremely difficult for me.
That day in November, it hit me strongly that I would be okay if I just let go and let the dreams happen. For the next couple of weeks, every night, I had dreams permeated with the energy I associate with Ariadne. After that, I had a string of encounters with both her and her husband that culminated a couple of days after the Winter Solstice in a beautiful experience that left me stripped and made me realize that things have finally changed.
I let myself be tamed by Zagreus, and him alone. But that night I let myself also be tamed by the Universe. Not out of anguish and fear, but out of willingness to actually be myself. I gained the ability to take a deep breath, and let go and trust and have faith that what is meant to happen, will happen. To let go of myself enough to move with the wind, and flow with the current. I thought doing so would destroy and break me. But instead it has shown me more of who I am and in some strange way, given me solid ground in the movement.
I have spent so much time and energy being contrary, and flaunting being feral, and fighting what I call the Universe and Necessity and Wyrd, and basically purposefully straying from the path I am meant to walk in a self-destructive, going out in a blaze of glory, strut. That was the epitome of brave.
But all the examples I gave earlier? They were all instances in which I let go and actually followed my path. They were instances I let myself be tamed, and they were instances in which I surrendered. That is not brave.
Courage, on the other hand, has an origin that means to do something from the heart; to put one’s heart into things, and be authentic to innermost feeling. I could be okay with being called courageous.