#AprilLove Day 14: Dear Courage

Just chugging along. I’m still really behind, but I’m managing. 🙂

Dear Courage,

I did not know your depth until I was forced to find you. Until I was forced to reach for you, and use you to vanquish my fears, or get through something very scary. And there’s the little things, too — a tough situation at work, going to the doctor to investigate this or that, having to have 3 MRIs in a row when I am severely claustrophobic. Facing illness in others. When a co-worker died and I was grieving. Every time I put words on the page (or computer screen). These are all acts of courage, and without you, I couldn’t have done them.

Every book I’ve ever written has been an act of courage. Every poem. When I decided to self-publish Fey Touched in 2012, that was you helping me to reach for my dream of being published. It didn’t matter that I had no idea what I was doing or how the world would react to my book…I’d decided to put it out there, whether I got glowing reviews or bad ones, because I needed to. For myself. You stood by me every step of the way.

Rewriting Grave Touched was also an act of courage. You were there when I rewrote it and revised it, telling me to keep on it, that it will be good. And that was important because at the time, I couldn’t imagine this book being good. It just wasn’t in me, after the TN and low esteem and insecurity got a hold of me. But you were right. Grave Touched is great book, and I’m damn proud of it.

I remember a line from Rod Stewart’s song “Forever Young”: Be courageous and be brave/in my heart you’ll always stay/forever young. And when I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and intractable vertigo in 2003, never have I needed you more. I was scared. I was faced with people not believing me. I was faced with daily pain and fatigue, and a zillion other things going wrong health-wise. I was faced with weekly doctor visits, and medications, and people’s ideas being pushed on me because they thought they knew better. I learned how to stand up for myself and advocate for my own health. My life had changed irrevocably that year, and not everything survived the change. But, most of all, I learned that I could find you when I most needed you — in those dark moments when I believed it a death sentence, those times when I had to make tough decisions about what to do or not, based on my pain level. When I was teaching, and I was so tired, but wanted to do it so badly I put myself through it anyway (and a full-time day job). It did a bit of damage, but it was what I needed to do for myself and my students.

When I had to have three surgeries on my jaw due to infections and rejection from a previous surgery, when I thought I would die, when my fear of needles was so overwhelming that I didn’t think I could go through with it — you were there, whispering in my ear, saying that everything will be okay and it will only hurt for a bit. I remember my last surgery, in August of 2011, the song “Kashmir” by Led Zeppelin was playing on the radio, and somehow I drew strength from that (because music and my mind have been intertwined since I was a kid).

(Obviously, the song had nothing to do with the surgery, but a connection was made that somehow let me find you quicker and easier.)

And, the doozie was when I was in so much pain daily from the trigeminal neuralgia that I wasn’t sure I wanted to go on, and you told me to never give up, and to keep on, as much as I can, because things WILL get better. (An they did, thanks to you!). But man, I was so scared and freaked out and couldn’t imagine living that way. And when I had my little meltdown after watching “The Fault in Our Stars” and my mom and husband were looking at me funny because I’d been crying for an hour, you were there with comforting words and the strength I needed.You gave me the strength to say, “I have never mourned the loss of my normal life due to this. I have never LET myself feel it so intensely. I was too busy trying to be brave.” But, as the movie has shown me, pain demands to be felt. And right then, I needed it, despite what others may or think.

My general philosophy in life actually comes right from you. I don’t believe in conformity, or being someone I’m not, or not standing up for myself. That, too, is very courageous. It takes courage to be your true self and live without apology or a care. I NEVER worry about other people and how they may react or think. I worry about what’s right for me, and what I’m doing or not doing. Because this life is mine, and I have one chance to live it. Living for someone else or censoring myself or pretending to be someone else is just pointless. Unfortunately, a lot of people do that and I just shake my head.

I’m cool as I am. I have hopes, and dreams, and things I want to accomplish. You’re there for me every step of the way, supporting me, encouraging me, and not letting me fall. You are truly my partner in this, and I look forward to many more courageous things in the future.

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