Redefining courage within the context of trauma.
Day 1 I was terrified. Day 54 I became numb. Day 210 I was done. Really done. I-can’t-take-one-more-step done. All I wanted to do was to close my eyes and never wake up to the numbness that had separated me from everything in my life, including myself.
But I did take one more step.
And then I took another.
I took a long series of one-steps all the way through months of therapy, packing a home, moving across the country, trying to start a new life and, hopefully, forget the old one.
Day 459 I learned there wouldn’t be a trial. Not enough evidence. Only my word against his, and my word wasn’t enough.
I gave up.
No more steps. No more trying. The apocalyptic war inside me had finally destroyed everything, leaving nothing but burnt out buildings and charcoaled corpses in its wake.
“I can’t take one more step,” I cried to my husband, the dear sweet man who had already supported me through so much. “This is where I sit.”
“It’s okay,” he said.
“Yeah, because I’ll put you in my little red wagon and pull you until you have strength enough to stand.”
“What happens when you get tired,” I asked.
“Then we’ll hitch up the dogs and let them pull us both.”
I laughed and cried and pictured a series of paintings that started with a little boy pulling a little girl in a little red wagon and ended with two pit bulls doing the pulling as the boy held the girl in his arms.
Sometimes life becomes so hard we can’t take one more step. The journey has beaten us down, our feet our tired, and we simply cannot muster the ability to move forward. I believe at those times it is essential that we trust others to help pull us along.
Courage isn’t doing everything by ourselves, it is recognizing when we need to place our trust in the strength of someone else. When we can’t see. When we can’t process. When the forest is too crowded and the sky too dark… these are the moments when we need to climb into someone else’s wagon for a time (not forever) and let them help us through the night.
Trust is scary, and it’s definitely not easy.
I must do this alone! we think. I don’t need anyone’s help! I don’t want anyone’s help.
Because somehow needing help is akin to admitting defeat. We have failed. We are weak. We have fallen before fear.
Myth. Falsehood. Lies.
Utilizing every resource possible to survive is success. Asking for help requires strength. And both demonstrate the ability to act in spite of fear.
Whether a spouse, family member or friend—find someone you can entrust with your courage. This person maybe different at different times. Sometimes it is my hubbs. Sometimes it’s one of my siblings. Often times it’s one of my many wonderful, amazing and heartfelt friends.
And sometimes that person is me.
Courage is trusting others—understanding our limits and knowing when to ask for help. It’s climbing into their little red wagon when we can’t take one more step, and letting go of control so our arms can be open to reach for hope.
“If you cannot trust anything else, can you trust me?” my husband asked.
“Yes,” I replied.
“Then just for this time, trust me that you are loved. You are worth fighting for.”
We don’t have to walk alone.
Day 1409 I am happy. Tomorrow I will take one more step.