Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Brave (No, Not the Disney Movie)

When I was a teenager, one of the qualities I searched for in a boyfriend, was that he be brave. I don't mean brave as in, had a secret identity and fought crime in the dark shadows of the night, I just mean I wanted to feel safe knowing that if the chips may fall, he'd stand up for me. He'd be strong for me. He'd help fight my battles.

I grew up in an environment that was not, on any given day, what you'd call safe. I never felt fully secure, not just emotionally, but also physically. Many a day I felt the very real possibility that it could be my last. When you're 10 years old, that's not a great feeling to try to make sense of  in any way, shape or form. I never felt like someone was there, standing up for me. A lot of the time, other than my brother and my grandmother, I truly felt like I was fighting a singular battle where survival was the ultimate goal.

I know this sounds dramatic. Trust me, I know. It's why most of the time, I minimize these years and what happened, or I laugh when telling some horrific tales, trying to diminish their power.

I can't speak for anyone else in my family, I think everyone experiences events differently, but that's how it felt, to me.

I had a serious boyfriend for awhile in my later teens, and I really, really liked him. Yet, one of the things that I couldn't get past with him was that I just never truly felt safe with him. I always felt like the rug was going to be pulled out from under me, or that if push came to shove, he'd leave me on my own. I couldn't make it work with that nagging in my gut.

Then, I met my husband. While we had immediate physical chemistry, it was more that he was this cocky, arrogant guy that NOTHING phased. He was absolutely sure of himself and his space in the world. His confidence set off my "BAZINGA" meters instantly. ('kay, BAZINGA wasn't actually a "thing" then but.....) I   tested him in a million different ways, cause I'm cruel like that, and he just kept showing me this rock solid, steadfast stance. For the first time in a very long time, I felt like I had reached a port in what had been a very long storm. He made me feel safe, protected, sheltered. I'm an intense person, and my temper is legendary in my family. He just took it in stride. He was the rock to my crashing waves, the calm breeze to my howling winds, the water thrown on my raging fire.

We've been together 20 years this year, and for a long, long time, that dynamic has worked. In fact, it still holds true that he is the one I immediately turn to when I'm spinning anxiously out of control. I know, even when I'm cascading with fear, that he will remain calm and talk me down from the ledge; appealing to my logic and presenting me with facts that overpower the emotion and dread I'm feeling.

I realized something though, in the last 5 years or so. I realized that while my husband CAN be many things for me,  he can't be brave for me. All along, all the while I have been fighting and clawing and working and crying and screaming and building walls and coping-all the time that I spent feeling all alone-I have been brave for MYSELF. I've always HAD to be, but as obstacles in life mount, it may not be pretty (cause I don't really do pretty) but it's been ME constantly fighting for myself. Standing up for myself. Shaking myself off. Picking myself up. Figuring out what I want and where I want to be. Making difficult choices and choosing unpopular paths. Another person can stand beside you, they can lend you support and encouragement, they can help you believe in yourself and inspire you to try, and I KNOW those things are vitally important as well, but they can't DO IT for you.

At the end of the day, the one thing I've feared for so long is the one thing that I've actually always known. In the end, what we do and how we triumph comes down to ourselves. I've never "needed" someone to be brave for me, after all. I've just needed to believe in my own courage and my own fight. I've always tackled difficulties head on, on my own, but my mistake has been in not believing I COULD do it on my own. Support is a wonderful thing, don't get me wrong. I also still have many, many, many a doubt filled day. However, I'm learning and growing daily too.

As I free myself more and more from the shackles that have held me hostage or kept me fearful, I realize that brave, fighting girl is the same one today that was always there-at 10, at 18, and at 34 years old. She may have been often on her own, but she did alright.  I see that now.

My growth isn't in BEING brave, it's in BELIEVING that I'm capable of slaying dragons all on my own. No Knights needed.


  1. I seriously love this post. I'm so glad that you've finally realized what those of us around you have already seen and recognized. have you read the definitions for brave? it means: invulnerable to fear or intimidation; possessing or displaying courage; to face and withstand with courage. go back thru and read some of your blog posts. each new feat you attempt - be it bootycamp, pole dancing, fencing, running - you've faced with nervousness and anticipation - but you've stepped right up with courage and grace. those qualities represent a strong, brave women, my friend. you're alright, Trace. I'm honoured to call you friend. xo.

    1. Thanks T! I don't think I'm invulnerable to fear-I'm fearful daily....but I'm definitely not easily intimidated. Life has definitely tried to knock me down, repeatedly, but you know we redheads. You can't knock a good woman down for very long. :)
      And up we get again, and again, and again. IT takes one to know one, and I'm just as blessed to have you in my corner, doling out the motivation, the inspiration and the encouragement I need to get back in the ring.

  2. I am proud of your journey and your growing strength. Our paths have been shared and sometimes forked but we have fought the same dragons along the way and have doused their flames. Keep up the great work and always know that I support and encourage your goals. xoxo

  3. Awwww! Thanks big sis for being in my corner when the chips were down and encouraging me to do what felt right for me. I'll never forget that support.