First, a poem that is oh-so-close to my heart. I use it as our opener:
William Ernest Henley
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
I love that. I love that so much. And now, if we were like, reading poetry together or something, I would say those last two lines this way, as they are my mantra and they go through my head like this:
I am the master of MY fate.
I am the captain of my soul.
I ask myself this all the time, quite honestly. Am I an agent unto myself?
Do I choose to act or to be acted upon?
Ultimately, who am I accountable to?
To Myself. To God.
I have this friend. This friend that I love oh-so-much. In fact, this friend has been pivotal in my life, because she came onto my porch at just that moment when I had been so hurt, so damaged by another friendship, that I didn't think I needed friends or that they even existed at all. She changed that for me. Through years, we sat on the porch together and chatted as our children played. Mostly it was happy, sometimes it was hard or sad.
She holds a very special place in my heart. Very special. This friend has been through longstanding hardship that I don't even like to imagine, and has come a long, long way. She has made hard choices. Hard, hard choices. She has stood up for herself for the first time maybe ... ever. She has given up a dream of what something should be, something she has built her life around.
And now, I am worried that my friend is running out of strength. And I want to tell her there is SO MUCH left in her. That she doesn't have to go back to that darkness, that there is light and fresh air in front of her, but she has to keep going.
I know she is strong. I know she can do this, even though it seems impossible.
She wrote some things that frightened me, because I love her so much, and I could not bear to see her subject herself again to bondage, to an uneven yoke that would try to destroy her soul. As I laid in bed through the night, thinking of her, this section from "On Work" by Kahlil Gibran ran through my head:
You have been told also that life is darkness, and in your weariness you echo what was said by the weary.
And I say that life is indeed darkness save when there is urge,
And all urge is blind save when there is knowledge,
And all knowledge is vain save when there is work,
And all work is empty save when there is love;
And when you work with love you bind yourself to yourself, and to one another, and to God.
So I say this to my friend:
Life is not darkness. You are just weary. This section of life might seem dark, but what you came through was darker. You are walking towards light. Keep walking. Keep working. Keep trusting in God and in your self. But do not go back to that darkness.
You are strong. You can do this. You do not have to listen to lies. You are not accountable for the choices of others. Anyone who tells you that is a liar. You did not force anyone into their bad behavior by living and breathing or wanting something purer or anything you might ever say. Anyone who tells you that is a liar. They are in charge of themselves. You are only in charge of you. And you are AMAZING. You are worth every sacrifice to get to that place of light and fresh air. You are a divine Daughter of an Almighty God. He has created you and holds you most precious. You are His daughter. The qualities you have been given from Him are sacred. Most sacred, to be held and honored by others, not to be abused, mistreated, degraded, or forced into subjection. You have absolute greatness within you. Do not forget that the power you have been given as a nurturer is a PHYSICAL power. It is not weakness. It is a power to aid you and your children and anyone else you can bless. It is not something that subjects you to another person ... ever.
You are the master of your fate. You are the captain of your soul.
From Mr. Gibran, because I love him so much:
But I say, not in sleep but in the overwakefulness of noontide, that the wind speaks not more sweetly to the giant oaks than to the least of all the blades of grass;
And he alone is great who turns the voice of the wind into a song made sweeter by his own loving.
You can do this, my dear, dear friend. You are Worth so Much.
I hope someday you have this experience imagined by Robert Frost:
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
YOU. CAN. DO. THIS.