Fear is nothing to be afraid of- a life limited by fear is the real terror.
People have called me brave for a number of reasons through my life and it is something I have not related to in the same way- or over the same things. I have been called brave for surviving ME- to be honest, life so limited and weighed down, I hardly think it brave to avoid that like the plague!
Then people have considered me brave for going abroad alone. I moved country every couple of years for 8 years, exploring my surroundings and aspects of myself. It never occurred to me that it was a brave thing to do- it was a release. Meeting new people was enlivening- I could be whomever I wanted; no expectations as to how I should act. I learned valuable lessons with strangers as my mirror (and people are never strangers for long if you are unafraid to greet them openly).
Making the decision to become a single mother, encouraging my son’s father to strive for what he wanted which took him away from us as a unit, has been called brave- but to ensure we all three of us live fully, I did not feel brave. Many things, I assure you, but not brave. To cling to certainty- even if that certainty was crushing us- was the folly.
Training myself and swimming the English Channel, people called me brave- mad, crazy but also brave. For me it had become cowardly to NOT attempt it. It was a dream I had buried with living so much life, and yet it surfaced. So I did it. Swimming off the south coast of England, Leap years day, was called brave- going for training swims in the sea- all these things have been given that epithet.
These things have held no fear for me, so I have not felt brave. The people who dubbed me brave were voicing their fears- I say this with no judgement whatsoever. Without fear there is no bravery. For them, I was courageous. And it was a gift I could give them (so I was told) that they could experience these things with me, through me. People are petrified to call forth their deepest secret dreams and display them publicly- fear of judgement, fear of failure, ridicule….so many things to be afraid of. Even fear of succeeding!
What I have felt brave for doing is the background, unseen aspects of my questing. Seeking help, putting myself forward in the face of judgement. Challenging the moments of self-doubt. And doing my swims as a single mother- knowing that I am still doing the best for my son, even as I organise ‘treacherous’ pursuits- for how can he possibly learn to live his dreams if I don’t show him you can.
I thank anyone who has called me brave as it gives me a surge of goodwill towards you that you put yourself in my shoes (even tentatively for a moment, until you feel fear and turn away). I know no other way to be and swimming until all else falls away and I’m free to feel my inner strength carry me through brings me to peace.