Many extraordinary and noteworthy people have quotable sayings about courage. For me, courage is taking another breath, another step, showing up another day. As a child experiencing the trauma of sexual abuse, courage was getting dressed for school, studying for a spellling test and at a cellular level blind faith that life could be better.
I’ve used an analogy to help others understand the longevity of the wounds of childhood trauma, since the invisible nature of ACE (Adverse Childhood Experience) wounds makes it difficult for others to comprehend. If I were in a terrible car crash, my body would sustain life-threatening injuries. With time and treatment, my body might recover, natural miracle of healing might make it possible for me to walk, maybe run. But the scars from the gashes would remain, I might have a limp or a hitch in my step, limbs might throb when the pressure of the atmosphere changed and I might flinch when I hear a car horn or a tire squeal. And I could say, without shame, “Oh, my injury from the car crash is aching today.” And others would understand perhaps they’d say, “It’s amazing you survived! Take it easy today. What do you need?”
Often wounds from childhood trauma, like sexual abuse, fester in silence and isolation for years. The get infected with the knowledge that it’s undiscussable. It’s not a story that the family tells with deep gratitude that you survived. It’s seldom mentioned or acknowledged. There wasn’t an ambulance trip and emergency room team of experts to administer aid. There was me and the miraculous courage to get up and get dressed. Pass the spelling test. Deliver the pennysavers on Tuesday morning. Set the table for dinner.
And all these years later, the wounds are there, the scars invisible. Courage today is sharing this with you and letting you know your wounds, though invisible, are real and matter. You can disinfect them by letting go, little by little of the shame. It’s not yours to carry. It never was.
What is courage to you? Where do you feel it? How will you demonstrate it today?