Take courage


Courage is a word that I’ve been playing with on and off for three or four years now. I’ve gone from feeling very ambivalent about it to wanting more of it, wanting to put it at north and steer by it.

Today I’m particularly conscious of its connections with cor, coeur, cordaheart. Of late I’ve been feeling more comfortable with hearts – wearing them, drawing them, writing <3.

Today courage feels like what I need to be me, but more so.

My parents couldn’t have known, over thirty years ago, that A F would end up standing for as fuck, and if they had they probably wouldn’t have given me middle names starting with those initials. I noticed the connection earlier this year, and thought it was brilliant. Do I want to be Kathleen af? Yes, yes I do. But it’s going to take courage.

I think that perhaps the opposite of courage – for me, today – is shame. I’ve been thinking about shame quite a lot over the past few days. I seem to be remarkably prone to it, more than seems reasonable. I dwell. Little errors or awkwardnesses, things that (I tell myself) most people would just laugh off and move on from, stay with me for literal years, bring with them resentment and embarrassment. “That person knows about when I did that thing.” I blush and stutter and assume they haven’t forgotten. I haven’t forgotten. (They’ve almost certainly forgotten. I’m the one who’s stuck, ensnared in that shame that’s trying to keep me from letting it ever happen again. Whatever it was.)

I want – in both senses, lack and desire – the courage to let those things exist, to allow them to have existed and to let them go. I want the courage to be most fully myself. I want the courage to be Kathleen af.

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