Losing faith in ourselves, losing faith in others. Coming under attack, not knowing how to defend. People hurt us sometimes. I wish I could say we get better as we get older, that eventually we reach a “golden age” when we become kind, wise, and compassionate. But as the years pass, and stages of life pass me by, I realize adults can be just as horrible as mean-girl cliques or bullies in high school.
I’ve met people so hardened by emotional pain, they can no longer be kind, no longer connect to their fellow human beings. They see everything in black and white, “attack or flee,” “win or lose.” Worse, they see anger as their right, their privilege, like they’ve earned their tantrums and their victims “deserve” to be brought to tears, deserve to be socially ostracized, outcasted, etc. Whatever life has done to them, they’ve become plague-bearers. They spread their hate like a disease. They are carriers of cruelty and misery, and the damage they cause is real. Therapists use all sorts of labels: Narcissism, Sociopathic, Borderline Personality Disorder, Explosive Rage Disorder, Depression-Anxiety, etc. In the end, although I know mental illness is real, to protect ourselves, we must learn to identify this behavior in realms we understand: social irresponsibility, lack of honor or integrity, and saddest of all, a deep inability to love oneself. Young people can still heal. But the older we get, sadly, the worse our sociopathy becomes, the less likely we, as adults, will be saved. As a healer at heart, this has been a very hard lesson for me to see, to observe. The older we get, the less likely we are to ever fully emerge from our own darkness, and in fact, the darker that shadow becomes.
I am a sensitive soul. It’s difficult, at times, to live in a world where people can be so carelessly–or intentionally–cruel. I’ve spent a lot of time trusting the wrong people, but I can’t blame myself for being naive. We all start off as Sora did in her manor, frightened and desperate, seeking an unknown destination, trusting whoever comes down the road. Sometimes, we find ourselves next to Crash, someone not particularly likable, not necessarily loving, and yet possessing a quality of redemption. Sometimes, we find a Laina–someone who seems like an innocent sufferer, someone who calls upon us to protect them. Yet we fail to see all the ways they use us and take advantage of our trust. In my books, I like to create characters who exhibit redemptive traits, because in the end, I do believe we can all heal and overcome our darkness. But I write fantasy, I write ideals and hopes, I write dreams. In reality, darkness is not so easily identifiable and not so easily conquered.
I take heart knowing that we can create meaning in the world. I turn life into narrative. I turn chaos into themes. I make loss a lesson for the soul. I know courage follows fear. I know for some of us, every day requires insurmountable strength to face. Our own skin–our flesh and blood–becomes a prison. Sometimes, in a twist of fate, we must abandon our loved ones to their own sightless cruelty, realizing only one of us can ever escape. And for those trapped in that prison, I know you have a lion’s heart to survive, and I salute you, survivors, on-goers and never-look-backers. I salute you. In the words of Mary Anne Radmacher, “Courage doesn’t always roar.”
Through loving ourselves, we find redemption.