Note: The sentiments below do not come to me often authentically. They happen in little glimpses during or after my meditation practice (which is often an exercise in having my demons sit down for tea). I can only access this feeling for a few seconds, but I believe it is what freedom feels like. I want to capture it here, but know that fingers pointing at the moon are not the moon.
To every heartbreak, empty room, every impossible situation. To every person who has let me down. To what tried to break me. To the times when no one could understand and the times when I could not describe. To every night I felt alone. To the feeling of being at the very end. To the inyourface pain. To the times I quit and failed and stumbled and canceled plans and screwed up. To when I lost my temper and took the easy way out. To the times I took it out on my body and to the hateful thoughts I unleashed on myself. To the crap I ate and drank and watched and thought and believed.
I thought of you as "bad" and hated you. I wished you away and I tried to exile you. I blamed you for my unhappiness. I didn't know I needed absolutely every single one of you. I couldn't see it then, but I needed you to be as blaringly loud and disruptive and impossible as you were. The truth is you shook me awake when I would have just been content to sleep. I see that now; it's so clear. (Why is it not always this clear?) You have made me strong. You have made me who I am. You have been my training.
The awareness that came with meditation made me observe myself when I'd rather look away. It made it harder at first. Like that part in the movie when it's gory and gross and you want to cover your eyes. And with practice, I'd hear the voice of my teacher in my mind not only on the cushion but in the fire: Hold your seat. No matter what happens, hold your seat.
And it changed everything.