You're the strongest person I know, he said. If there's anyone who can get through it, you can.
I don't feel it, you know. Strong. Brave. Courageous. There are so many minutes hours days weeks when facing the next step drains me of energy. Another day of being mother teacher friend counselor mediator lawyer defendant plaintiff and everything else that I must be in the course of a day.
It's what most of us do, after all. Face a day filled with joy and pain, hardship and ease, love and hate. Pick up those heavy feet, take the next step, move forward instead of back.
And it's not as if I do it alone. Where would I be without my friends, my family, my therapists (of varying sorts), my coworkers, my beloveds, my God? I may be stronger than I once was, but I'm not an idiot. I don't walk alone.
How is that strength?
How is that courage?
I'm learning that courage lies in the everyday. Courage is not the sole property of those who face down tanks, race into burning buildings, climb sheer cliffs, perform the feats of daring-do that make the headlines and leave us gasping in awe.
Courage resides in the woman who chooses to walk away from the abusive spouse and start life over anew. Courage resides in the man who takes full custody of his children in the face of society's expectations so they will have a stable and loving household. Courage resides in the student who tells her friends to leave the oddball kid alone. Courage resides in the boy who was beaten down by family and poverty and illness and rejection, and still chooses to make something of himself come what may. Courage resides in the couple who takes the risk of welcoming a troubled child into their home. Courage resides in the teacher who chooses to reach out to students rather than stand back and say That's not part of my job.
And yes, courage resides in the woman who chose to face her dragons and face her truths and say This is who I am. I am imperfect. I am flawed. I am fallen. And I am strong. I am beautiful. I am worthy of love.