To my Courage Worldwide family,
This letter is four years in the making. These words written are four years of victory. I celebrated my 4 year anniversary this week and wanted to write you a letter about the impact that Courage House has had in my life. I was reflecting this week on what Courage House gave back to me. Courage House gave me back myself. Courage House gave me a reason to believe I had a reason to be alive, when even breathing was a difficult task I’d sooner forget.
Four years ago, I boarded a plane with only the vaguest idea of the people, the situation, and the life I was entering. I sat on the plane willing my heart to calm down with its nervous anticipation of what it meant to be someone’s daughter, of what it meant to be wanted, of what it meant to be loved at such an extravagant cost.
Yet, I did not hesitate.
I knew the nightmares I carried within my heart. I knew the certain death I faced usually on a daily basis. I knew it well. Yet, I knew I could not explain the peace that I felt to come home to a people I did not know, to a land I had not walked, to a house I had not seen.
I knew I was being intentional, maybe for the first time in my life, to stay alive.
Because she called me daughter.
|First day home||Jumping on the bed with joy|
I did not know, though, what it meant to be a daughter. I did not know what it meant to be a sister. I did not know what it meant to be someone’s friend. I did not know what it meant to be loved enough to where you had something worthwhile to give away that was not your body, mind, or soul.
I did not know my own heart. I did not know the power inside of it. Its power lay dormant under the weight of memories and such deep shame. I believed I was weak. I internalized that weakness and never fought for something that was rightfully mine. Fighting was foolish when you were always in a battle you could not win.
Suddenly, I arrived in California and this deep unsettling ache reverberated in my chest. I had lived under the lie and curse that I deserved to die for so long, that to live was truly painful. There is no room for happiness in your heart when you have quietly welcomed death for the decades you had been alive. Being hugged by my mom for the first time did not quell the ache.
It made me realize I wanted to live. It made me realize I had an identity worth living under. It made me realize that I would have to learn how to fight. It made me realize I would have to learn how to laugh. It made me realize that I would have to learn how to trust. It made me realize I would have to learn how to like the sound of my own voice instead of cringing as air would expel itself from my lungs. It made me realize I would have to learn how to feel instead of reminding myself not to feel and that it did not matter. It made me realize that I did not know myself.
Moving home to Courage House was more than physically packing meager belongings and deciding it would be my home. Moving home to Courage House meant forever. Moving home to Courage House meant entering into a love story that had no words, no resolution, no easy answers, and no endings.
Moving home to Courage House was my acceptance that I had a future worth living for because of the foundation that someone else had already laid.
There are no adequate words to describe the transformation I experienced at Courage House because someone called me daughter. The transformation itself was quiet and at moments, uncomfortably loud. Literally, you are choosing to believe you deserve to be alive instead of wishing to be dead every moment that you breathe.
Figuratively and literally speaking, I was a little girl sitting on a bed, completely disoriented to be called back from the grave. The tape you hear in your head is overwhelming. The choice to believe that you deserve to be alive is a painful one. Suddenly, you can have a future. You have never dared to dream about a future without the certainty of pain.
Choosing to let yourself be transformed is the most courageous act I have ever participated in.
I have been transformed. I live out of that transformation four years later where it has become my normal. Four years later, it was entirely worth it. Four years later, I dream of goodness more than I think on the reality of evil. Four years later, I am the person I was supposed to be before the power of death became the only power I craved. I cannot ignore the reality that was my own for so many years. I do not ignore that reality. I do not pretend like I have not seen evil. I just choose to believe this reality is better and that love is stronger.
I embrace that reality by bringing other girls home and knowing the spell of death will break if they can choose to trust.
It comes, perhaps, after someone repeats actions of kindness often enough that you trust them. Trust is foreign, though, heady, and something you want to be jealous and possessive over because you don’t realize at first, that trust will become your new normal. Trust will become the new pattern of consistency that your world can display.
I live out a love story daily.
With the belief that transformation is real, I can now love the ones only beginning their own story.
That is enough.
Four years later, I am a person I am proud of. Four years later, I am still learning. Four years later, I have danced, I have laughed and I have cried. I have been held.I have been told that my love story is reality enough times to where it is the hope I cling to. Four years later, the anthem I hear, is one of love casting out fear and transformation through tears.
It is worth it.
It is the reality that I call my own.
It is the reality I believe other girls deserve to call theirs.
It is the one that I live for.
It is the reality I would die for.
My belief came down to a choice to enter into a love song without tangible words and chords to a song. My reality matched my surroundings for the impossible becoming possible, for hope becoming sure, for beauty to soften what I had believed was ugly for so long.
I believe my life is worth living and that I help other girls be set free to know that same truth too. You helped make this possible for me and the girls at Courage House. Thank you.
Your giving matters. It changes lives. It has changed mine. Would you continue to give to Courage Worldwide or consider giving so that more girls can find the same freedom and life I have found?
CWW Volunteer Coordinator and Starbucks Barista
|With mom, Courage Worldwide Founder Jenny Williamson|