I read today’s Bloganuary prompt ‘how are you brave?’ and instantly heard Sara Bareilles singing, “Honestly, I wanna see you be brave….I just wanna see you….I just wanna see you….I just wanna see yooouuuu.” The song used to bring me to tears. I thought it was because of its context in relation to the lgbtqia community and my child coming out in 2016. Today, I realize the reason I became teary whenever I heard the song is because I wanted to be brave, but I wasn’t.
I’m an enneagram 2. If you are familiar with this model of human psyche then you know that twos are sincere, empathetic, sentimental, friendly, generous, and self-sacrificing. These are generally favorable personality traits to have, for healthy people. If you’re not healthy, mentally, you can go overboard being friendly, generous, helpful and putting the needs of others first to the point you completely neglect your own needs. I neglected my own needs for a very, very long time.
The bravest thing I’ve ever done is put myself first. I was forced to do it, actually, so I’m not sure if I can truly say it’s the bravest thing I’ve ever done, or not. The path leading to my self-realization began in 2019 when my youngest child entered treatment for substance abuse. At the time, I was miserable. I wasn’t depressed. I just wasn’t happy. My unhappiness had very little to do with my child’s addiction. I was unhappy before I even knew she had a problem. I was numb, devoid of any emotion, good or bad. My standard answer to any question was either “yes” (as in, yes, I’ll help you, give you a ride, let your dog out, volunteer in the classroom, host the father-daughter dance, be classroom parent), or “I’m fine.” I didn’t want to put myself first. I had repeated the words “I’m fine” so many times, that I believed I was. Plus, it was easier to put other people first.
Addiction is a family disease that leaves a system of dysfunction in its wake. The addict isn’t the only person in need of recovery. The entire family needs recovery as well. Through my own recovery, I came to understand that I had low self-esteem and self-confidence and my need to people please brought praise and gratitude which reassured me that I was a good person. I’ve learned a lot about myself over the last three years. Putting other people first may have been easier but putting myself first has improved all my close relationships, none more important than my relationship with myself.
There are as many ways to be brave as there are people in the world. Crossing the street is brave. Fighting cancer is brave. Grieving the loss of a child is brave. Resuming life after divorce is brave. Coming out to the people you love is brave. Admitting you have a problem is brave. Seeking help is brave. Choosing to live is brave. Sometimes, just leaving the house is brave.
I’ve decided to use WordPress’s Bloganuary prompts to get myself writing again. I missed yesterday’s prompt ‘what is something you want to achieve this year,’ so I’ll end my post by sharing my goals for 2023 are to write, be brave, and continue putting myself first.