Updated: Mar 15
by Amber Hockman, Gold Star Wife
A widow of a soldier who died by suicide and is using her experience + vulnerability to connect with others. Passionate about veterans, mental health, advocacy + suicide prevention, she is using her voice to educate about grief, growth, community, and the necessity to encourage each other to speak openly about our truths without shame or fear.
Healing is hard. It really is. Facing your demons and your deepest pain is terrifying. Owning your life and your healing and your behavior can be so difficult. It can be so daunting that many people would rather continue to suffer than to heal.
I chose to heal. I chose to turn and face all the still bleeding wounds in my heart and soul. I chose to lean into the things I am feeling. I chose to lean into my fear and depression and heartache and anger and loneliness. I chose to heal because I knew that if I didn’t,
I would not survive.
Let me tell you something. Our society is designed around escapism. Ignore your pain. Suppress it any way you can. Pretend you’re fine. Eat. Drink. Get on your phone. Watch tv. Stay so busy you can’t feel anything. Anything to avoid your emotions. Never admit you struggle. Put on your happy face. Never let them see you sweat.
This is why our society is so mentally ill. This is why our suicide rates are consistently rising. This is why we have mass shootings. This is why we are so disconnected and miserable. We aren’t allowed to be human. If we show perceived weakness… fear, sadness, depression, anxiety, insecurity… we are pushed away. We are treated as if there is something wrong with us.
No. We are humans. We all have wounds. We all have bad habits. We all have demons. We all have unseen battles. All of us. We all struggle with things. We all feel afraid and lonely and anxious and sad and insecure and angry and millions of other emotions.
Every single person stumbles.
The way to healing, to happiness, to connection, to your best life is this…
It’s that difficult and that easy. Lean in to your pain. Lean in to your fear. Lean in to life. Lean in to love. Lean in to your hopes. Lean in to your dreams. Lean in.
Don’t look away. Don’t hide your truth, especially the difficult parts. Don’t pretend you’re fine when you’re not. Don’t run from your feelings, good or bad. Lean in. Look at all of it. Own all of it. Feel all of it.
I’ve been leaning in. I’ve been reaching all the way back to my earliest pain and leaning in. I’ve been owning it. I’ve been facing all the wounds that have never healed right. I’ve been ripping off the scabs and letting them bleed again to let the poison out. It hurts, a lot. It’s scary. It’s hard. That much is true.
But living with festering wounds in my soul that were perpetually creating situations that caused more wounds was worse. Reliving the same patterns again and again was worse. Running from everything that was hurting me and holding me back wasn’t working anymore. So, I leaned in.
I found out something no one tells you. It’s only the initial leaning in that is scary. Once you do, the most amazing thing happens. Once you lean into everything that scares you and hurts you, and you own your whole story and whole self… the light comes on.
Suddenly, there’s hope. Suddenly you can see that there is another way to live. You realize you don’t have to carry the whole burden you have been carrying. You realize that much of what you believe was wrong with you is just the result of unhealed wounds. You realize that hiding all of it is what has been destroying you.
So many people talk about wanting to be loved for who they are. So many people feel lonely and disconnected. How can people be loved for who they are if we tell them that only certain parts of them are worthy of love? If we tell them that they are only loved if they have no struggles and look perfect and weigh a certain amount and make enough money and never stumble… no wonder people don’t lean in. They retreat. Their wounds poison them.
Let’s lean in. Let’s talk about how hard life can be. Let’s show our struggles. Lean in. Love each other and love ourselves, even when we aren’t perfect. None of us will ever be perfect. Lean in. Chase your dreams. Lean in. Live your truth. Lean in. Be brave enough to be honest about what you struggle with, let it bleed and then let it go.
Life really starts on the other side of fear. Don’t fear your story. Don’t fear being rejected for who you are. People who do that are not your people. Don’t hide your story. There are people who need to hear it. You need to tell it.
You can heal. You can change the things that hurt you over and over and over again. You can purge the poison. You can live a better life. You can’t if you hide and run and wear a mask and avoid and pretend.
You can… if you lean in.