PROMPT: How Are You Brave?

As a survivor of over twenty-three years of domestic abuse, one might think me brave for that alone, but no. That, that was “survival mode.” That was switching on to “autopilot” and going forward for the sake of me and my kids. The bravery part started after I left…

It takes bravery, or maybe just channeled fear, to go into the unknown…I had to keep moving forward, despite not knowing his next move. You see, at least violence, when you’ve lived in it for that long, was predictable for the most part. You know how to act and what to expect, although my Abuser would throw in some craziness on occasion. However, a former victim doesn’t know what to do with the “unknown.” It’s scary and not written. I mean, YIKES!

The bravery for me was continuing to push: push for a job (time after time), push to keep my home, push to keep the youngest in school and for an understanding of his Autism, to keep food on the table, to keep myself from caving and going back, to find “me” again…going back could mean death for me…

Then, as I grew used to my single mom life, the bravery was: going to therapy, speaking about my story, setting boundaries and cutting off some former friends and family members, and prioritizing things that were best for my family and not everyone else. I’ve learned bravery can be uncomfortable, but very necessary!

There are days when my job stresses me and it would be so easy to get back into bed and avoid it. Continuing to get out of bed and get ready for work, with the dread of what lies in wait for you, is bravery. I have children and a grandchild depending on me. Bravery is disagreeing in a relationship, but saying, “I’m afraid I don’t see your point, but I love you anyway,” and moving forward. For me, that’s huge! I used to have no personal opinion, due to fear of reprisal — and thus no boundaries. Today, I have boundaries. I am fearful when I state my opinion, but I do state it.

Paying an unexpectedly large utility bill is bravery. I either pay it outright and live on virtually nothing until the next pay period OR set up a payment arrangement and juggle my bills accordingly. Alone. That fear used to paralyze me into staying in my abusive relationship, despite me figuring out the same issue, the same way. The bravery is in continuously paying on a bankruptcy that I have paid on for three years, with two more years to go, that takes over half my paycheck. I live on meager money in order to be free. I’m over halfway there!

Now, bravery trickles into my Blog: there is fear of reprisal from family and friends. There is the fear that someone on social media will see my posts and send my Abuser a link. There is the fear that HE will find out, despite me not naming him specifically. There is the fear that our children will tell him something and he will retaliate. The bravery comes in calming myself and assuring myself that he has no more reach or influence and that he can no longer hurt me. The reward is so great: I get to help save lives through inspiration and information. That helps me to continue to press forward!

Lastly, bravery looks like taking care of myself. Self-care is not selfish, it is necessary. So I do things that strengthen my mind, despite looking like laziness. I read, I write, I take long baths, and I go on walks. I am pushing to take better care of myself because I am the only me…the only one I truly have.

So, if all you have managed to do is get out of bed and be upright, I’m proud of you! You can do it! I’ve been a prisoner of fear, anxiety, and depression for far too long. I know how brave it can be to do simple things when you’re paralyzed by your own mind. Keep being brave!