Writing Group, Day 6: Bravery is Bullshit

This piece of writing was inspired by a prompt from Jena Schwartz. The theme of the prompt was: Tell me what is brave. {my first thought with this prompt was "bravery is bullshit"}

Bravery is an interesting concept. It's one I've never struggled with. I've truly never felt like I've been at a crossroads in my life in the sense that I had more than one thing to choose from. Like - should I accept this job offer or this one. Should I get divorced, or not? Should I move to New York City, or just stay here?

I've been at plenty of crossroads where some major thing was ending and obviously a huge shift was happening in my life, but I was never wretched over any sort of decision making. 

I'm grateful for that, in hindsight.

And I'm only aware of it through what my friends mirror back to me or through observing what the people close to me go through and are consumed by. I am a quick mover and I don't need a lot of time to stew in anything. I've always had healthy boundaries, put myself first and never made anyone else's emotional stability my responsibility. I'm not into judgement or guilt or jealousy. I am able to label all of this now even though it's something I've done my whole life. I never realized I was doing anything "outside of the norm" until I saw how other people did things. It's just how I operate.

So I don't identify with stories about bravery or looking fear in the face and doing it anyway, or, or, or, or. Such is the popular subject line in every fucking Elephant Journal blog post. (which is ironic because I now have a piece on EJ....but it ain't about fuckin bravery......)

The other day a friend called me over to tell me something big. I didn't know what it was and she said she'd tell me when I got there. Turns out she was leaving her husband. She cried and cried and I held space and listened and encouraged her and what struck me the most was how she kept saying things that meant she essentially thought her life was over:

  • she'd never love again
  • never get married again
  • never meet anybody else
  • or have more children
  • and her life would never get any better than where she was right then

I thought - what the fuck? Are you fucking serious right now? You are 29 fucking years old, your marriage is ending and you think you'll never love again? I almost laughed a couple of times because it was just so ridiculous. Of course I didn't laugh - I'm a sensitive person and it's not for me to say what she should feel of course. It caused me to reflect on the ending of my marriage. Not once ever did I even think anything like that - that I'd never love again, never find anyone, etc., etc. And it's not even like I thought that sort of thing and had to "talk myself through it" or write friggin affirmations or whatever the fuck. It never even entered my consciousness as a possibility. Because of course I'd love again, of course it wouldn't feel like this forever, of course this hurt was just temporary and it's all part of the human experience. The only thing constant is change, right?

And it's not like nothing shitty has ever happened to me in my life or something. 

My mom kicked me out of the house two weeks shy of my 16th birthday. Of course that was horrible and dramatic and awful. My boyfriend at the time was there while it happened so I threw some stuff in a bag, got on the back of his motorcycle and we went to my Aunt Lisa's house a few miles away. I cried and was scared and really had my feelings hurt. But after the emotion was out, after the tears stopped it was like - ok, well now what? I'm obviously not going back there so what's next? And my adorable boyfriend and I got an apartment together and had a lot of fun living together and that was that.

Will it ever be ok that my mom kicked me out? No.

Will it ever be ok that she's an alcoholic and is bipolar? No.

Will it ever be ok that I don't have a mom? No.

But that doesn't define me. It's not an excuse that I use (like my brother does). It's not who I am. It's something that happened to me and has shaped who I am today. It is not something that holds me back or keeps me small.

One time I totaled my car, my contract job was ending and the lease on my apartment was up. It seemed sort of symbolic that all was coming to an end so I decided to move to New York. Even that wasn't a huge deal. I found an apartment in New York, packed up my stuff and drove across the country. I decided I wanted to work in a coffee shop as a barista so I opened up the phone book and started calling coffee houses in Manhattan until I got one that said they were hiring. I was hired and it was the most fun job EVER. 

When my marriage ended - sure that was the shittiest thing ever and it was nauseating and heart breaking and soul crushing, and, and, and. But there's still life after all of that. We sold our condo, he moved back to the east coast where his family was and I started looking for a room to rent. A few weeks later I found a beautiful room in an amazing house that had beautiful gardens and ducks and chickens and was stupidly idyllic and right down the street from my nanny job at the time. 

In a series of interesting decisions I made, I found myself pregnant. I wasn't exactly sure I was, but I had a hunch. So I took a test and it was positive. I thought, huh. Now what? I called a midwife friend of mine to see what I needed to do to further confirm it and she said nothing - there were false negatives, but basically not ever were there false positives. I was pregnant for sure. I knew 100% I did not want to have a baby. I took a bath that night and talked to the little spirit that was burrowing inside of me and apologized and said it just wasn't the right time for me. The next day I called around and found a nice clinic nearby that provided the abortion pill. They were all super nice and supportive and the office visits were wonderful experiences. I took the pills at a friends house and basically spent 5 or 6 hours in her bathroom either on the toilet or in the shower with the hot water running on me. Once the cramping stopped, I came out and she fed my warm soup and tea and blessed my womb. It was all really beautiful. 

When I quit my corporate job to work as a birth doula and essentially start my own business, I just did it. It didn't take me months to decide, I didn't make pro/con lists, I didn't agonize over the what-ifs. I didn't have a certain amount of money saved as safety net first. Because it wasn't a question. Staying at my corporate job wasn't an option. The only way to go was forward. 

After my divorce I found myself living in the lovely garden house but still not being able to shake the feeling of being someone's wife. I can't really explain but I knew that I needed a serious change of scenery to shake the wife label and get back to me. So I bought a ticket to Europe with a return date of three months later. I didn't know where I was going or what I was doing, all I knew was that staying in Phoenix wasn't where i was going to find it. I had to go. Logic wasn't a part of it - it was just intuition. And I went and I couch surfed and I made amazing friends and had fantastic sex with gorgeous Italian men and saw beautiful sights and ate heavenly food and drank homemade wine and shed all the layers and came home completely renewed.

None of that was brave, it is just me. 


Do I have to say it again? Sign. Up. For. These. Writing. Groups. www.jenaschwartz.com

Do you want to feel more brave? Let me hold your hand through your own personal revolution. Join me in Reality Rehab. It's a four-month online course to uncover your inner badass. It's there. You just have to clear the bullshit out of the way. 

Bravery is Bullshit | Cock & Crow Blog #bravery #abortion #divorce #travel