People have told me I am brave for sharing my story publicly. Women have reached out to me, men too, and praised me for my strength and confidence. They tell me I am courageous. And every time I hear and/or read these words, I can feel the heat rising to my face, and my cheeks flushing with embarrassment.
I used to react this way because I didn’t believe I was brave or courageous. I wasn’t confident, they just happened to see the mask I chose to wear on that particular day. I thought I was a failure, and that my story wasn’t courageous at all…it was simply necessary.
Today, it’s because I wish we as people, especially women, would do better. I wish we would BE better; to ourselves and to each other. I wish we would always talk to each other this way; building each other up instead of tearing each other down.
We are all brave! Most of us just haven’t realized it yet, maybe some of us never will, and this is one of life’s greatest tragedies…
Maybe nobody ever told us how strong we were, and maybe someday they will wish that they had only to find it is a lifetime too late.
Maybe we suffer from depression, anxiety or any number of debilitating mental health conditions, and we fail to realize what an incredibly brave thing we are doing when we simply choose to get out of bed every morning to face the world.
Maybe we’ve had our hearts broken, and we don’t realize how much courage it took for us to learn to trust again!
Maybe we were abused or sexually assaulted – maybe it was by a family member, significant other or a complete stranger, and that experience only served to validate our worst fears about ourselves; that we are unworthy, unlovable and weak.
That is not the truth. You are NOT the weak one. You are NOT unlovable. You are NOT your fears.
My hope is that all of my friends learn to take a moment to reflect on their lives and pin point at least one instance where you were truly courageous! My hope is that we help each other recognize these strengths along the way! It doesn’t matter how insignificant you think it is…because, let’s face it, our thoughts about ourselves are overwhelmingly inaccurate.
Hold onto that moment, look yourself in the mirror and say this, “I am strong. I am unique! I am powerful! I am courageous!!!”
You will probably feel silly! Good! Say it anyway!
You might find that it is hard to look yourself in the eyes while saying these words. I did too. Say it anyway!
You might cry…GOOD! Say it in spite of your insecurities.
Start today! Do it every day! Do it multiple times a day if you have to! Say it until you no longer feel silly. Say it until you can look yourself in the eyes without turning away! Say it until you no longer crumble to tears! And maybe some day you will finally see yourself the way your loved ones do!
Beautiful! Strong! Fierce!
Say it until you believe it, and the world will have no choice but to believe it too!
Vanessa Day – Recovery Advocate