Courage, that sometimes elusive and stalwart component in humans is subjective in nature. We often view it as heroism in battle, a stout heart in the face of death or fortitude in dealing with adversity. We seldom assign such a noble word to ourselves. Webster calls it “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere and withstand danger or fear”. To me it is simple: Doing that which is difficult but needs doing to make our world and ourselves a better place.
I have blogged on this subject more than once but it is such an important part of recovery that it bears repeating. While I was going through my own I kept hitting brick walls. I can’t do that or this is too hard continuously weaved its way through various steps in my recovery. Just saying those words sent a message to my psyche letting me know that in the darkest corner of my soul I knew I could never make it. Every time I wanted to quit something kept pushing me forward. This is where the Bridge to Recovery came in handy. I’d think about everything that was ugly and unhealthy in my life at the beginning of the bridge and all that I wanted waiting on the other side. But it was hard, so hard that I was soon reduced to a phrase coined by Twelve Steppers, one day at a time. If I can just make it through today I’ll face tomorrow once it gets here.
One exercise I did that helped me a great deal was to list everything I had done in my life that required courage. I left nothing out. Learning to swim, diving off a high board, facing the dreaded immunizations I had to go through as a child, learning to ride a bike, driving a car, motorcycling, raising children, and so on. I redid my list over and over, most days realizing I’d left something out that was of importance. If we go back to the first two years of our life we find that we had a monumental number of changes and improvements in our tiny lives that could only have been accomplished through courage. We learned to crawl, then walk, then talk, forming magical words before we even knew what they meant. Even at that young age, whether we realized it or not, we needed courage to keep moving forward with our own development. It’s easy to picture how a four-legged creature can learn to walk but when you think of a baby learning to walk on two legs it seems to me to be an enormous feat. It is as if courage is a shadow that follows as we grow, always there when we need it. But sometimes we need courage to access our own courage.
When we were sexually abused at a young age our lives were shattered. Someone brutally ripped out most of what we had learned up until then. All of the good things we had developed like how to giggle, laugh, run, play games now became difficult to access. If you picture a tiny human having all these joys and then literally have someone rob them of their use it is easier to understand how, as we grew older we learned ways to cope. We moved our boundaries, normally second nature to us; we adapted to another’s moods, thereby hiding our true selves so as to accommodate our abuser’s needs. We spent many hours trying to figure out what was happening and what we had done to bring it into our life. Most of us didn’t know what “it” was; we only knew that we must have caused it. In order to overcome this we needed to find out who and what we were. Only by listening to our inner voices could we overcome the path of destruction our lives were on. We had to find the map that would take us back to the beginning and that map would show us how to move through the agonies of child sexual abuse. We literally had to REPAIR the damage that was done.
You may not think you have the courage to do this but you do. Courage has helped you make it to where you are today. You have survived one of the most devastating brutalities that any human can be subjected to. Plant firmly in your mind where you want to be after Repairing the damage. Keep that visualization alive as if you can already picture yourself being there. Then order a copy of Repair Your Life (information on how to do that is on our website) and begin working that program. It has exercises, visualizations and techniques that will provide the courage you need to access in order to make it to the other side of the bridge. Courage builds on itself. Get started!