“There are so many ways to be brave in this world. Sometimes bravery involves laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, or for someone else. Sometimes it involves giving up everything you have ever known, or everyone you have ever loved, for the sake of something greater.
But sometimes it doesn’t.
Sometimes it is nothing more than gritting your teeth through pain, and the work of every day, the slow walk toward a better life.
That is the sort of bravery I must have now.”
― Veronica Roth, Allegiant
I am told — actually quite often — that I’m brave for sharing like I do. It always shocks me. Doesn’t everyone splatter their entire life story on the Internet? I know, I know. NO.
It’s sometimes scary for me. I’ve talked about that, too. I have this whole issue with privacy vs. secrecy. As in: Secrets aren’t safe so I’ll tell you everything private about myself. See, I get into trouble there. Understandable, right?
There are times when just living my life feels brave. Like, it feels kind of brave to go through my yearly medical tests. Why? Because I have Health Anxiety. And yes, it’s an actual thing.
(The link is not to a description of Health Anxiety because we can all imagine what that is, I think. It’s to an interesting thread that’s filled with like-minded people who suffer – like me. It’s interesting reading!)
Anyway, my doctor calls it hypochondria, which is really a catch-all term for any anxiety that centers on health concerns. Hm. Concerns. Not the right word. Catastrophe is more like it. Cuz that’s what I do. I catastrophise. <<< Is that a word? Hypochondriacs manufacture disease where there is none. People like me get a headache and think brain tumor. Good thing I get migraines, huh?
While I do feel brave when I go through a medical test… I feel it’s nothing compared to what some of my fellow humans carry. And I definitely don’t feel brave about what I share here. Nah, that’s nothin’. It’s just what I do. I write.
Today, I’d like to talk about another kind of brave. I’ve been this kind, too.
Before I begin, I’m not here to toot my own horn… I’m hoping instead to bring you into the fold… or put myself in yours. A sisterhood, perhaps, of women who open their mouths to TELL TRUTHS.
There are men, too, of course. I know this and embrace the men who are also brave in so many ways!
Twice in my life, I stepped out of my normally fear-centric bubble to do something crazy. (Crazy = stick up for myself and others):
The first time, I was not yet twenty. A professor at college said something nasty/sexual to me and I found it disgusting. I went to the Dean. He mentioned there were other women who had the same thing — or worse — happen with this particular professor, but they were too afraid to speak out. Would I consider going to them, tell my story, and ask if they would work with me to stop him? Had I discussed it with anyone else at the time, I’m sure they’d have told me to move on. It was, after all, the late 1970’s and my female friends and I were all a bunch of spandex-wearing, sexually charged 20-somethings.
Also, to be fair, he wasn’t the first man I remember saying something like this to me. That occurred on my first job at a sporting goods store. I won’t go into that now but I can still remember the pig’s name: Roland. And yes, I could tell you exactly what he said — but I won’t.
Back at the college… long story short, not only did I get the other women to complain, we were the catalyst for the college to take the professor to court. Actual lawsuit. We all testified. He was fired. I’d see him around town and was scared of him… that is the penalty of speaking out, if not something worse. Last I heard, he was hired at another school. Ugh.
The second time, I had a neighbor who was being physically and emotionally abused by her husband. We lived right next door and heard everything… including her being kicked down the stairs. I went to her. I told her what I knew and became her safe haven, which put my family in jeopardy. I still did it. The last time I got involved, I took her to the hospital. Her husband wanted me dead. She, as so often happens, went back to him. He called me names and made my life a living hell. She did nothing to stop it. We moved across town. She came to me later and thanked me. She said they were Christians now and everything was good. Last I heard, they were still together.
Is there a moral to the story? Yes. I WOULD DO IT ALL AGAIN.
And yeah, I was being brave… but so was every other person in these stories.
So many women (and men) have stories like this… quiet, behind-the-scenes stories of bravery from all sides. I haven’t even touched on my own #metoo stories. Almost every women I know of has one… or two… or a hundred.
If you feel comfortable sharing, please do so. If not, I understand. But I hope you have someone who can listen. The TRUTH needs to be shared. That is the ultimate bravery.