It was a little risky to dare to understand tenderness. It meant first knowing the opposite. It meant knowing bitter coldness and disconnect, the only way out being back through painful layers of healing as each healed layer began to let in a little more light of hope and courage to continue on. Aiming to get to a future place or remaining stuck in past stories became courage to drop more deeply into the present. It was an extreme path — the result being the capacity to hold and love the most traumatized parts of the human experience. There was accumulated trauma from painful attempts to heal the original trauma, and there was a love and compassion nothing could ever touch or take away.