It started with the simple awareness of it. That bit of pretentiousness reveals it had started long before and it was only the naivety that I was unaware of its working, which was new. I walked through my days and would occasionally spin the dial of my memory and the item chosen came to mind. Random selection or intentional choice, the memory was a simple trail to a place of remembrance. The idea that it is a good memory, or a place of turmoil is part of the surprise. That you would choose a selection on purpose is to find a value there. So, when you think of your good memory you are buoyed and rejuvenated. Able to proceed, to be strong and encouraged.
I think of my Grandmother and am brought to a memory of a woman that had dealt with many trials in her life. She had lived in a Sod House as a child on the prairie. Dealing with bugs and rain and snakes, having to “sweep the dirt floor” and straighten up the place… makes my “hangnail problems” into something a bit more manageable. Thinking about her in her later years reminds me how her beautiful white hair looked as she played the organ at church. It reminds me of her stoic resolve and confidence of the now and the hope of a future, and it allows me to continue on with my days filled with things I think are too big to hold.
Stolen indulgence is a different form of memory lift. I can transport my mind to a place of my youth and remember the game or the person or the time and be transported to that happy place, and no one knows. The yesterday of my memory is clear, and perhaps a bit adjusted for time and result to fit my desires, but it is mine and I can do as I wish…. Stolen because I escaped to a place of “non-reality” and indulgence because it was a luxurious pleasure. Thoughts of home while I travel. The remembered hug or smell or touching the foreheads together. The knowing glance and raised corner of the mouth when I look your way. The place of the memory that is a connection.
Sometimes we mislabel the memory because it is a dark place. I think this is an error because it diverts us to a cul-de-sac of bad emotions, and we go in circles. I believe that just as a good memory will buoy us to be better, I think a bad or hard or dark memory will make us stronger and better equipped to be support for others so beset with a burden. To face that memory with its stack of characteristics is to be brave and to succeed in getting back up after it has kicked your butt. It is to return stronger. Gentle and brave is the revealing of great power. To be candid is to be free. To be free is to be candid. Tell of the turmoil of the betrayal and you will see the fear in the eyes of your partner that can then tell of their own wounds. The fear that you are asking them to face their own dragons and to then tell of the result. To describe the beating and the falling and the return to the arena to stand again. We must know in our heart that this is the path of the brave, the strong, and the ones that limp. We love these friends that do so. They are the platinum friends that we call on when we are broken. Even as I write this you can make a list. It is short for a reason.
That you can be that one on someone’s list is a testament to your authenticity. That you are still in process is of little consequence. You can be a “stolen indulgence” in someone else’s day. You can be the memory drawn to their minds eye, and the buoy in their step. That you have confronted the pain in your past and touched the dragon. You have removed its teeth and it is your escort now. It is a secret indulgence of your own. You know the sound of its toes on the tile, its breath in the hallway. You know when it thinks it is needed and you can give it that “look” and send it back to its lair. The spot next to your chair. Public and open to be seen. You know the name you have given to it, and you can speak it aloud. Shame and guilt and failure are only the beginning. Add to it as you will, and you will gain power by doing so. Stolen indulgence because you stole its power, and you use it for good.
In times before this it would steal your joy. The power to control and to reduce you and to shame your efforts was debilitating, and then you felt bad about being debilitated. Icing on the cake of guilt and failure and rejection. Perhaps inadequate is there as a companion as well. The stolen indulgence of your hopes and time and ability to be the friend that your friend needed, when they actually needed it. Stolen from you. Indulged by the dragons.
You can regain your power when you face the dragon. To simply turn to face it, not even to fight yet, just to look it in the eyes. Perhaps the first one is the dragon of your thoughts that you are “helpless to face the dragon”. Perhaps it is that you feel like you have no power to fight the battle. What was stolen is perspective. You may indeed have a short arm and a dull sword, but here you will stand, and then you can make a new sword out of the teeth of the dragon of despair. You are brave by simply believing you are worth the fight. That will vanquish your first dragon. It is time to stand, you are worth the fight. Be willing to fail. Perfect is for losers. It will paralyze you and prevent your even beginning. If you did it right the first time you tried you will have waited too long to try.
Stolen indulgence will come later when you are driving toward your goal and you remember the first time that you fought the dragon and lost, only to return to your feet to stand again. Like a soldier in one of those actions games young men play, your character is given new life and comes back to engage in the battle for your identity. Victory is found in claiming what was taken and standing on the neck of the toothless dragon and showing the scars to your friends. The battle is worth the cost, but you need to engage. It begins with an understanding of your identity that is worthy of the battle. Then it becomes the indulgence of the knowledge that it is yours again. Stolen from the dragon. Indulged in your own time.
The thing to shift is this; that the hard and the dark memories are places to gain strength, but they are still raw and unrefined. Label them incorrectly and much time is consumed in the anger and powerlessness of the thing. Stopping the momentum of victimhood and inability to act will take courage. Take the step, even if it is small. You can redefine the thing and declare success. It is within you. Small of voice and weak of arm, but it calls to you.
This is the beginning. The baby steps of reclaiming that which has been either taken or perhaps even handed over to another. You have a claim to it but must be ready to engage in the work that is needed to retrieve it. This is a contact sport. You cannot stay on the sidelines. Passive is not an option, and you cannot delegate this to another. It is yours to redeem. Then will you know of the power of the one inside. Then you will speak as one that has had an encounter with death and have overcome it.
Later will come the boldness, but for now it is the tight stomach and the fast beating heart. The look of the quick eye and the uncertainty of the victory. Now are the anxious moments of the dust still in the air and the smell of battle. You are in part practicing for the continuation and the awareness, but for now it is still simply “the moment” of the immediate. You can taste it on your lip and see it in the fresh blood of your wounds. It did not come simply or cheaply. These lessons cost you. They were worth the price of admission.
Finally, there is this: the campfire. Here is the telling of the tale of the battle. From the beginning when your identity and strength was taken long ago. The dry years that it was allowed to be gone. The moment of crisis when you chose to redeem it and the preparation for the day of the confrontation. The battle that you lost, the willingness to stand again and the tale of the fears that were real. Only later comes the tale of the victory hard fought and won. Only in this order will it be correct. No jumping ahead, no skipping the humility of the losses. It is all needed to become the story of your legend. To tell those around the fire of the entire thing. Friends of merit that know of their own battles and the dragons they are still in the fight with.
These folks meet regularly in small meetings of fellow warriors. They have acronyms and a mission. Help the fellow warrior. Be the friend that is needed. Teach others to lean on them and then to be one that can be leaned on. This is a hard place at times. You are needed. You will be sought out. Be ready to engage on behalf of another, you may even become a friend.
You may not like confrontation, I know that aroma. You may have lost every time you tried, and I know that scar. It is not the day that you win or lose that matters but the day that you cease to wish to win, that is the day that the dream dies. To have failed is simply life. To stop dreaming is a second death, for you are now committed to subservient status. This is the cold mud on bare feet that saps your strength. It is the heat of the day in the unyielding sun that drains your reserves. There is a phrase for this: “when the pain gets high enough the behavior changes”. So perhaps lukewarm porridge is your day’s ration. One day will come for you as well. Perhaps it is when a stranger tells of a better home than this. Perhaps they will speak of that which they see in you that you have lost an awareness of. That day is perhaps yet to come but come it will. Then you will rise into your next place of clarity, purpose, and then you will embrace your higher value. I know others will rejoice that day. I know I will.
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