There’s this space in my brain that is always filled by fear.
I don’t always look it, but I always feel it.
I remember once my friend, Adam, listed links to blogs of friends by offering them a word—a name of sorts that was meant to be a descriptive of the person bearing the link.
My word was BRAVE.
I’m the opposite of brave. But today I realized that I am also the epitome of bravery. Because I keep going—ever forward, ever onward, ever higher, ever deeper. I keep going in the face of all of that fear.
It won’t ever go away.
You need to understand that as fully and completely as you are able.
I will have that space filled by fear for the rest of my mortal life. Assuming there is a life that follows, I might still have it then. There is this beautiful dream that all the wrongs of this world are somehow disappeared and unaffecting in the next. I don’t know that I can believe in that. Because it is a dangerous thing to believe in a future where the sickness and the pain and the struggle aren’t things. I don’t know that we can be human and be without those things. I know that view will upset a whole lot of people. But I can’t care about that right now.
Because I also need to understand that this fear doesn’t go away.
I put on my “brave face” and I meet the world. And I need to anticipate that this will be the thing that happens tomorrow, just as it did today … and the day before that, and the day before that. I need to anticipate it so I can meet it in the best possible way.
I need to be mindful of it. Because mindfulness is one of the few tools in my box that help manage the fear.
Sure, there is an off-label use of blood pressure medication that keeps nightmares and flashbacks at bay during the night. Sure, I take anxiety medication and mood stabilizing drugs to make facing the world a little easier during the day. But the only weapon in my arsenal that I can wield—the one thing that I can actively do, ironically, is to be mindful enough to not engage fear in the ways that the injury to body and mind have conditioned me to engage.
I suppose that some people might read this and think, “She talks about this all the time.”
And you would be incorrect. But only because I rarely talk about it, which is why I often write it. Because it needs to breach the dam, and it needs to spill over somewhere. So, it finds the way through my writing.
Last week, in therapy (which totally fucking wrecked me, by the way), I realized that I am not making a lot of progress in some areas because I am still bowing to the pressure to keep other people’s secrets. The fear is compounded by the fact that people don’t want me to be honest about what made that fear exist in the first place.
I’m deliberately vague. I keep the ugly details buttoned up. I let people believe what they will, instead of telling them the whole story.
Most of you probably think that when I talk about childhood trauma, I mean that people weren’t nice, or that I had to have surgery. Many of you skim right past the ideas of that childhood trauma and determine that my struggle is one borne from my drug addiction, or my violent husband, or my violent boyfriend after. None of you know about the times I was raped and thought it was my own fault (because victim blaming is so prevalent that you didn’t even need to know about it to shame me into believing my victimization emanated from my own actions). Few of you know that I miscarried, once very far into my pregnancy, because I also thought that was somehow my fault. Some of you I told about the things that happened behind closed doors, and most of you didn’t believe me, or covered your ears, or shamed me and isolated me and added to my pain. And I let you believe whatever you will, because other people don’t want to look bad, or admit their own roles, or their own traumas.
Just let it go. Just cover it up. Just give it to Jesus. Just move forward. Just look to the future.
But it doesn’t go away. It literally, physically, physiologically, cannot go away.
It doesn’t let go of me.
It doesn’t go away.
So, the words might not pour out on this page, but they will start to flow more often and with more freedom. Because I am giving myself the permission to claim my story. To tell my story. To stop keeping secrets for the sake of others, because it is killing me.
I won’t die for you. I won’t go out that way. I won’t let your secrets harm me in any ways that I can prevent. Because it doesn’t go away, but I don’t quit.
All of you know that I don’t quit. I’m one of the most stubborn people on the planet, and probably more stubborn than most of whatever others might be on any other potential life-sustaining planets.
Here’s the thing: Adam was right with his descriptor. It is hard for me to see myself as brave when my mind is constantly assaulted by fight, flight, and freeze synapses and hormones. But I am brave. I am brave because I don’t quit. I am brave because I am too stubborn to quit facing the demons. I am brave because I dare to tell the story, and to live out my life on my own terms for once, and to find myself and my space and my desires and my need and my loves without the interference of other voices. I am brave because I kept looking for my peace, even when the violence of others kept coming at me—still comes at me, on occasion.
The fear will always be filling that bit of my brain.
I will always be fighting against it.
I am not just stubborn because of that.
I am brave.
Hold on, everyone. This ride is about to get bumpy. But I will put on my brave face and meet the day, regardless. Just like I did yesterday.