This April, I am participating in Susannah Conway’s April Love, a month of love letters. Using her predetermined prompts, I’ll be writing a love letter to an aspect of my life every day (well, maybe) in the month of April. Thanks for tagging along!
I don’t allow myself enough credit for knowing you. In fact, someone told me just a few weeks ago, that she thought I was the most courageous person she had ever met, but it felt like she was talking to someone else. I felt thin. It felt as though someone stronger and more deserving must surely be standing behind me, and I was just the veil through which her compliment was passing.
I think it’s normal for people to not give themselves enough credit for feats of courage and strength. After all, when you are living through terrible things, nothing you do feels particularly impressive. You are just doing what needs to be done.
However, when I spend some time thinking about it, I realize that I know you quite well. Don’t I? I’ve called upon you many times. You were at my side, decades ago, when I shut a toxic family member out of my life, choosing instead to live with a smaller family circle, but one that was consistently loving and supportive. You were by my side when I finally, after years of silence, opened up about having been raped. You were with me when I battled a health scare. When I stepped into my role as Stepmom. When I delivered my first baby.
I called on you as I battled Postpartum Anxiety and OCD. It was you, courage, who kept me searching for answers when I knew something was wrong. It was you who gave me the strength needed to dial the number of a therapist. You moved my body to her office, one step at a time. You pushed my voice out of my mouth and shaped the words which formed a confession, revealing the truth of my emotional and mental state. You paved the path to healing.
I felt you again, when we learned about Clara. I felt you squeezed between the palm of my hand and that of my husband. We called on you together then, our hands grasped tightly, clinging to each other as we clung to you. We shared you. You helped us through the days.
I feel you now. It seems silly to say, but when you are grieving and battling mental illness, even the most mundane things require an element of courage. Things like going to bed, or waking up and starting a new day. Nothing is a given, and I need you every day.
Courage, thank you. Thank you for being here when I need you. Thank you for never leaving. Thank you for making me the kind of person that someone else finds encouraging. Thank you for making me the kind of person that someone feels compelled to call courageous. I still feel wildly undeserving of that honor… but I’m working on it.