Thursday, August 8, 2013

I Am a Survivor

brave -- having or showing courage
(courage -- mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty)

I was okay with "brave" until I read the definition of "courage". Now I'm not so sure.
Here's the problem: people call me brave. Brave for telling my story; sharing my fear; being transparent. Courage is a whole different story. "Courage is fear that has said it's prayers." I can work with that. I think of the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz talking about courage, and I relate to him, because he's terrified. But then I read that definition, and I shrink from it. But I'm a librarian and word geek and an authority slut. So I'm stuck. 

Webster's defines brave as courage, and courage as having mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. So if I'm brave, then I'm courageous. And if I'm courageous then I'm all those things that Webster says, and that just doesn't feel accurate. Because I'm the screw-up, the black sheep, the boat rocker, the troublemaker. Because it's a compliment, those words: persevere and withstand danger -- and compliments don't apply to me.

It's circular reasoning, I know, but I'm still stuck with the feeling or maybe even the belief that anything good can't be true about me. 

So I pull myself out of the equation.

A woman in her late 30's comes to the realization that she was abused repeatedly by numerous people when she was a child. She endured 2 rapes as an adult. She walks into a therapist office terrified and sick, but swears she won't leave until the work is done. Until she's figured it all out (as much as is possible). She carries on as a wife and mother while untangling her ugly, painful, terrifying history. She confronts some of the abusers and those who neglected her and allowed the abusers into her life, and it doesn't go well. But she carries on. Putting one foot in front of the other working so hard to get them to understand. So hard that she makes herself ill from it. And when she can't take their denials anymore, she walks away and realizes she's healthier without them in her life. 

She starts to write and talk and tell, finding that it helps her heal and it helps others as well. She blogs. She journals. She talks to anyone who will listen with an open heart. And she finds support, acceptance, understanding, compassion. She finds her voice and realizes she is proud of herself and all the hard work she has done.

People call her brave and courageous. Open, inspiring, and transparent. 

I read her story and I am impressed. I think she is indeed brave and courageous. And I remind myself that she is me. 

I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and 2 rapes as an adult. I have persevered, withstood danger, fear, and difficulty. 

I am brave and courageous because I am a survivor.

linking up with Writer's Workshop and imperfect prose


  1. "Brave for telling my story; sharing my fear; being transparent."

    You are brave! Transparency takes LOTS of bravery and I haven't become that brave yet (though I am trying).

    Stopping by from Mama Kat's :-)

  2. What a powerful post. You are indeed brave, courageous and strong!

  3. Sometimes being able to say those things out loud takes the absolute most courage and bravery of all. I admire your strength. Here via Mama Kat's. :)

  4. What others perceive as courageous may, to us, simply be doing what has to be done to survive. Maybe that's the very definition of brave.

    1. I've always said I've just done what I had to do. That I didn't really have a choice. Thanks for this, I like it :)

  5. You are brave and courageous and you have sought to get help and to carry on. I have a daughter in law that needs to do this too. However, I think she has buried a lot of what has happened to her.
    Blessings for being brave and true.

  6. So proud of your brave self!! Facing those demons head on is more than a lot of people would be able to do in their lifetime. Courageous. For sure!

  7. I find you incredibly brave and courageous.

    And oh, I get mad on your behalf that your story has not been received well, and mad at the denials!

  8. YES.

    standing with you as a survivor.

    visiting from em's place. <3

  9. Yes you are! It sure is hard to stop those tapes that play in our heads sometimes isn't it? It is like they get stuck on repeat and you struggle to find that stop button. What a great way to find your brave and good. I will have to remember that trick next time I get stuck with the looping tape.

  10. You are beautiful, because beauty brings light into the darkness and that is what you do when you talk about these things. And you are brave in our eyes, even when you don't feel that you are.


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