What is Bravery?
Updated: Jul 20, 2018
I am preparing to go out for dinner with a group of friends. An event which I normally look forward to for weeks, but this time it feels different. I run through a conversation in my head from our last dinner over and over again. I think about it in the shower, in the car – all the coulda, woulda, shouldas run through my veins like an icy reminder of unfinished business.
At our last dinner, one friend described being a mom as the “bravest thing anyone can do” then said “you guys will know what I mean once you have your own”. She knows about my struggle with fertility, she doesn’t know the details or the full extent. She also knows that 3 out of the 5 of us are having a hard time getting pregnant.
I’ve kept this friend, in particular, at a distance. At first I’d make the excuse that she was just in a different stage. Now, I know that I’ve kept her at a distance because I’ve had a strong intuition to filter my inner circle to include only relationships that nourish and feed my soul. I’m done putting up with anything less.
As I get ready for this dinner date, I categorize the things I want to say to her. The things I know I’ll never say out loud. The word BRAVE sticks out like a thorn. I try to delicately work around it but I keep getting pricked. I realize that being a mom is brave. I realize that loving somebody else so bad it hurts is brave. I realize that there is a bravery in watching your child learn and fail and struggle and fall down. But I want her to know that moms don’t have a monopoly on bravery.
She is no braver than me and I am no braver than her. We just have different experiences of bravery. Here’s what I consider to be brave:
Daring to keep trying, knowing that each natural cycle is not likely to work.
Giving your whole heart to a process that has beaten you down and still finding a way to be hopeful.
Feeling incredible grief every month, and still going to work/functioning like an adult.
Enduring this grief silently. Because, let’s face it, that’s how it is. It’s a lot to ask people to go through this amount of recurrent pain with you.
Finding a graceful way to answer questions about whether or not you plan to have kids.
Letting yourself believe, against all contrary evidence, that your body can do it’s job.
Letting your partner see you at your absolute worst. Being vulnerable and surrendering to the gift of growing together as a couple.
Loving your nieces and nephews without condition while your heart is hurting. Enjoying every single milestone, smile, cuddle, and laugh without reservation.
Enduring the physical pain of blood draws, shots, Wanda (if you know, you know), and medication side effects.
Signing up for this because you know, in your heart, that any amount of pain or discomfort will be worth it in the end.
And the list could go on and on. Every woman or man who has struggled with fertility could write their own.
As I get ready to meet my friends, this business feels less “unfinished”. I’m not ruminating over what I wish I would have said. I’m not sure I’ll say anything at all. I know, in my heart, that it takes bravery to live through this. A bravery I didn’t know was there, but that showed up just when I needed it most.
How do you live daily as a fierce, brave person? What do you want others to know about your brave self? I KNOW you’re brave. I hope you do too.