04 June, 2009

Defining Courage

She sat across from me on the wooden benches, voices vibrating off the walls around us. I could hardly hear her as she told me about hitting the end of her rope and seriously considering ending her marriage. She wanted to back her bags and those of her two small children, and leave. But she can’t right now. She realized that she is not able to do it until she is stable, working, and able to provide for them. She, however, has a plan that she has put into action. She has done her research and is preparing for her future. If she ends up staying, she stays. However, if they can’t work it out, she is prepared to go it on her own without depending on spousal support.

My heart went out to her as I could feel her frustration and see her anguish. She has been through so much in the past six months… I wanted to give her a hug. The frustration and hopelessness she is feeling is quite foreign to the way she was raised and the life she anticipated in her Asian home. For her to reach the point at which she stands, things have to be quite challenging.

I have thought about her a lot of late. The pain and frustration she is feeling and yet, the courage to take the bull by the horns, realize the situation, understand that she can not return to her family, and formulate a strategy to take care of her kids and her future.

Strength, courage, bravery…

For kids those words are symbolized by firemen and policemen. Those who put their lives on the line, such as the military, to protect and serve. These are brave people demonstrating great courage. Even now, as an adult, these are the images that come to mind when I first consider the words and their meaning.

The petite Asian woman taking charge of her life and making choices that are quite foreign to everything she knows is not the image that comes to me immediately – yet she is brave and showing great courage and strength in the face of adversity.

I have been thinking about courage a lot lately. What is courage? What is it to be brave?

Perhaps it is standing up and being strong in the face of adversity?

Perhaps it is dancing to the beat of your own drum regardless of the thoughts, perceptions, and opinions of others?

Perhaps it is walking and living with integrity and honesty?

Perhaps it is swimming upstream against the current – taking the more difficult path because you know that it is right but not easy?

Perhaps it is removing yourself from an unhealthy relationship even though it is sad and scary and is everything you don’t like – uncomfortable?

Perhaps it is doing what we know is right regardless of the reactions of others?

Perhaps it is listening to your heart and trusting it over your brain and its thoughts?

It is different for everyone I suppose. People have said that I am brave and have demonstrated courage given all that I have done without letting things slow me down. I would not say that I am either as I was and am simply living true to my spirit. I would not be me if I didn’t do the things I do… and they aren’t difficult for me to do.

I think of bravery and courage as tackling the things that are difficult. Taking on the challenge that we know is right for us and yet it scares us. Working in the face of adversity, risking everything to fulfill a dream, standing up for a friend regardless of the outcome, taking on addiction or abuse and never giving up, leaving a toxic relationship though it isn’t easy in the slightest… showing compassion when all you really want to do is scream! It is clearing the noise and finding the true self – shining that light brightly for all the world to see.

I had an e-mail from a friend over the weekend who has endured a lot through the past few years attempting to maintain a household for her kids. And now… now she is talking bout spreading her wings to fly. She is ready to teach her kids about happiness and being true to her soul. She is ready to show her kids how beautiful their mom is when she is allowed to blossom and bloom and breathe freely.

Some could argue that it is courage and strength and bravery to stay in the relationship for the kids. To give them both parents despite the lack of love and healing energy in the house. Even when there isn’t trust or intimacy… and things can’t be fixed.

She tried this. She showed courage and strength in giving it a go for years… and now…

She is demonstrating the same by finding her path, listening to her beat, and preparing to let her spirit fly. Sure, it will be difficult for all of them… but in the end they have a mom who is doing the best that she can for herself and her kids… and we have all heard that a key to good parenting is to be a good person to yourself (nurture yourself so you can nurture your kids)

Courage, strength, bravery…


Mariposa said...

You do have that courage. It merely manifests in each individual in different ways. You tackle each day, every day, for the past ten years as a single mother. Comparing yourself isn't the best way; instead, drawing strength from others' strength is possible, and healthy, and I do that from you.

Hope I make sense!

Mark said...

Yes courage comes in many forms and it is very individual. When we think of the brave and the courageous, parents should be at the top of the list. It does take much courage to be a good parent and to make the hard decisions when it affects others so deeply. Great article!

SingleParentPlus2 said...

Best of luck to your friend.

Lad Litter said...

Thougtful post. "swimming upstream" is a nice summation.