we brave women

I am brave because I walk forward, hand-in-hand with fear.

I have always been afraid. Afraid of disappointing, afraid of losing, afraid of the dark, afraid of hurt feelings, afraid of disapproval, afraid of getting hurt, afraid of believing in myself. But it has been through that fear that I learned to be brave during the scariest moments.

I have EDS (Type III), which I have struggled with my whole life. My mom has recalled me often going limp as a baby. In grade school, I would dislocate while writing, playing at recess, or just walking in the hall. In high school, gym class usually resulted in me sitting on the sidelines. In college, I took painkillers to push forward and numb the discomfort. But now I run. I redefine pain and listen to what my body needs. I let go of what might happen in the future and enjoy what I can do today. For so long I held myself back because of fear, but I am brave.

I was diagnosed with dyslexia in second grade. I couldn't read. I couldn't spell. I felt dumb, everyday. Teachers were frustrated with me, my peers talked down to me, and I lost faith in myself. I convinced myself that it was easier to not try at all than to try and fail in front of everyone. I graduated from college at the top of my class with a degree in elementary education, literacy remediation, and am one internship away from an endorsement in library media science. That fear of failure held me back, but I am brave.

Infertility and miscarriage held me in such a dark place for two years of my life. I know that two years is nothing to some, but the fear that I might never hold a child in my womb was real and it robbed me from enjoying life for what it was. I was sucked into "when we have a house, when we have children, when we move" phrases and forgot to sit in the happiness that was around me. I threw that fear out the window of a plane on my way to live an adventure in Australia for a year, and two weeks later I became pregnant with Parker. Two years of laughter were lost, but I am brave.

Each of these experiences with fear taught me to be brave in ways I didn't understand. To live without physical bounds, to believe in myself, and to live in each beautiful moment I am given no matter the circumstance. And none of those experiences had anything on the fear I experienced as my newborn was diagnosed with acute liver failure, put on life support, and endured an extremely risky transplant. Each and every day fear held my hand and tried to convince me Matilda would not survive, convince me I would never recover, convince me I could not be brave.

But I walk forward, because I am brave. Because I want my children to be brave. I want Matilda to know that despite her rough start she can do anything, she did not die. Instead she moved mountains. She amplified my life a thousand times over, waking up parts of me that had been lost to fear years ago.

I am brave because I choose to be brave.

Visit We Brave Women for more inspiration and to learn how you can participate in sharing your brave story.

All photos from today's post were taken by the amazing Izzy!

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