“The bravest thing I ever did was run.” These lyrics to a song by Little Big Town have really struck my heart. I have never felt in my whole life that running away was ever the right thing to do… until I had to do it. But I never thought of it as brave – necessary maybe, survival instinct possibly, but never brave. Hearing the song really made me start thinking.
When I really look back and think about it, with my family, my sisters, I was not the one who first walked away. They got mad that I dared voice my opinion and they shut me out. Well, Sharon had already shut everyone out but she jumped back in when she found out that Sandy had shut me out. Regardless though, I simply just stayed away. In the shock and disbelief that I felt, my emotions simply shut down and I stayed away. Well, there was nothing simple about it, I had no control over my mind and body shutting down, shutting off. It takes a great pain to cause such a thing, and who would have known it would be my own family to impart it?
And so, instead of being little-miss-fix-it, I stayed away. Over time, years really, that separation grew greater. The problem was, I was anxious all the time, as would be the one who was hurt, the one who was left in the dark with confusion and unanswered questions. I feared when my phone rang; I feared running into them downtown. And as I became aware of games they were playing, cruel acts directed towards me, I feared their next move. That was no way to live. And so when the chance availed itself, I ran.
My husband’s job offered us the chance to move away and we took it, mostly for my husband but a little for me too, or rather the reason I agreed. At the time, I didn’t consider it running away but rather running to something. I know now that I was deceiving myself. I was indeed running, but I had every right to. The only thing is, running didn’t heal the issues that made me run. As I look back though, it was a brave thing to do – to imagine a life apart from them, apart from the drama and trauma. It is brave to consider that there is more to me, more for me, than what had been thrust upon me. It wasn’t immediate, it took years in fact. But I don’t think I ever would have gotten to any healing had I stayed near all the chaos.
It wasn’t until my son’s wedding that I realized just how far I had come. It wasn’t until facing my sisters and seeing their childish reactions that I realized how much I had healed. And even now, as I have recently discovered that my semi-estranged son and daughter-in-law are planning on trying to have a baby, I see even further healing. There will be a day I have to go see them, a day when I may again see my sisters. But this time, if they play the ignore game, I will not simple be civil and then walk away and allow their game. I know beyond doubt that I will address it right then, to their faces. Oh, I will keep it light and have a smile on my face, but I will address it, you can be sure of that. Sometimes, running brings you right back around.
What is brave anyway? What does it mean to be brave? I think it can mean something different for everyone. For me, it meant running away to find myself, and then freeing myself by coming back full circle to face my demons. Being brave is having to suffer beyond belief but still surviving, pulling through, realizing that you are stronger than who or what is trying to keep you down. Brave is that unnamed, microscopic feeling, deep down inside, that gets you through one more moment, one more day. If you look inside yourself my friends, what is your brave?