Contagious Courage

I’ve been thinking about this post for about 4 days. I knew I wanted to share about the courage I saw this week, but just been considering how to word it. To be discreet as well as describe the strength I was honored to see this week. And, the care and concern. I think it’s so important to share stories of speaking up despite fear – it’s a lifeline for others at times.

Maybe you’ve heard the phrase that until you’ve tasted bitter, sweetness just isn’t as sweet. I hear it used when people are describing the bitterness of pain, then how sweet it is when they feel some relief.

I’m actually nervous writing this. The story touches on my own, and I am risking feeling transparent and exposed. But, I have come so far that I’m able to speak about what I’ve learned and that gives me strength and healing.

A gal I know was boldly approached this week by a man who began to say very disturbing, harassing things to her.  She was sitting alone, just having breakfast. Minding her own business, she didn’t see him coming. As if often the case with a person preying. She told him to leave her alone and he did not at first. She was embarrassed and scared.

Turns out, she wasn’t the only one this man had approached.

 

 

By the time I ran into her, it only took a few minutes for her to tell me all that had happened in the last 24 hours.  I knew that expression on her face: bitter shame mingled with I just want to forget this happened, but I can’t. Her anxiety was painfully visible. I thought about all the times I have experienced that place, and considered what I needed someone to say to me when I was there.

I looked at her and said, you speak the truth, as loudly as you need to, until the right person hears you and helps you. It became impossible for her to ignore now that she knew she wasn’t the only one.

She liked that. But, she was honest in saying she didn’t know if she could.  And, I told her who specifically to go talk to that I believed would help her – all the while saying a silent prayer that he would treat it with the urgency it deserved.

She kept saying, she needs to stop this man from doing this to someone else or worse. If he was as bold as he was with her, what about someone else that was too frightened to tell anyone at all. It wasn’t really about my friend yet, because she didn’t have the courage yet to fight JUST for herself. But, she had more than enough to fight for someone else. A beautiful thing to witness.

As my loved ones did for me, I did not leave her alone. I stayed close to her and kept telling her I am here, whatever you need.

I was compelled to say to her, you do not have a target on your back. She started to cry. That is how it feels. When you’ve been been in this place once, then again…etc. The truth is we do NOT have a target on our backs.

Our eyes are just now opened to the evilness of it all. And, we can’t help but see it. Which leads to a burden of responsibility to do something about it. Ignoring it is no longer an option once you face your own demons.

Not a target, but clarity.

But, what a burden it can be. So, the importance of surrounding ourselves with people who face truth with dignity, encourage us to speak our experiences and not remain silent…this breaks the bonds of that abuse and allows air and light and God’s hand to touch that deep wounding. So, we can begin healing.

And, together: gain strength to fight.

I awoke at 3AM the next morning, alarmed. Triggered. Nightmares. Her situation stirs things in me I have faced with all the dignity I can muster.  I have gotten used to this response in me.

I prayed, as so many times before, God, help. Just help!

I am very happy to report my friend did indeed tell the right person the very next morning. She didn’t let her fear stop her.

The right person responded with urgency, conviction and swiftness.  The right person also told my friend, what I told her: you have a right to feel safe. Period. And, no one gets to decide what that is for you. Only you do.

This is the contagious part, because she spoke up, she ended not being the only one to muster to courage to speak out despite their fear.

The joy and sweetness of relief on my friend’s face was absolutely a gift! The courage to tell someone I am scared and I need help. When you tell the right person or people, it is a domino effect of beautiful, strong steps that help that bond of fearful silence to BREAK. And, not cling to you.

It’s such a journey. And, everyone’s journey is different.

I encourage you to be a right person that will listen when someone shares something that needs to be addressed.

I encourage you, if you need to share, be kind and gentle with yourself. The cloak of shame you’re under is not yours. The shame and guilt belongs solely to the predator, the enemy. You only need to speak the truth, when you are ready. If you can’t do it for yourself yet, it’s ok. One day, if you keep pressing towards healing and into others who let you be honest and real, you will find you have been fighting for yourself for a long time.

Kind places of comfort that have helped me, but I respect that these may not be for everyone:

The Wounded Heart :http://www.amazon.com/The-Wounded-Heart-Victims-Childhood/dp/0891092897A

First important thing I learned from this book was “We are not meant to heal in isolation” – we need support, encouragement and love. Since the first knee jerk reaction is usually to isolate when faced with something traumatic such as abuse or harassment, I found this to be pivotal to how I deal with my own issues.

For me, this book helped clear me up about myself and complexities. And, it educated me. It’s not an easy ready. But there are letters the author has written in the back of the book to different people: Words to the Abuser, Words to the Abused, Words to the Non-Offending Parent(s), Words to the Counselor, but my favorite that I recalled this week were Words to the Friend.

I wanted to be this friend this week. And, this passage taught me that:

Words to a Friend

by Dan Allender

The Wounded Heart

Giving credit where credit’s due:

Courage photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/venosdale/6338621319/”>Krissy.Venosdale</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photo pin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Running photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/dlemieux/4277396062/”>dlemieux</a&gt; via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photo pin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

Girl/balloons photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/camdiluv/4441155157/”>Camdiluv ♥</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photo pin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>cc</a&gt;

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3 Comments

  1. Melissa, I love you more and more every day. I read this and how blessed I feel when I hear my own child write things that help me heal myself. As a mom, it feels like it should always be the other way around. But God has blessed me with you for a reason.
    Keep flying Baby, you only get stronger the more to flap your wings.

    Reply

  2. I also agree with your mom. The human spirit can see the pain in others, but all to often we may ignore this gift. I am so happy you acted ans was able to have the strength to help another.
    I am so proud of you.

    Reply

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