One persons Courage…

You hear about it in the news, inspirational articles, and in the whispers of people discussing someone’s life. Sometimes you hear it to your face. “You are so courageous.” I have been facing my fears lately and there has been some courage yet, most of what people tell me is courage is merely a will to live. Is the Will to Live what makes us couragous? Does this invalidate courage?

When I hear about someone being courageous, brave, or something along that line the picture in my mind is a bit gender normative and sexist. It’s a brave soldier in a black and white movie with bombs exploding behind him rescuing the little woman and running away from gunfire without breaking a sweat. I am well aware this is a very skewed image that remains in my mind. I use this image to invalidate my own experience often.

How can I be courageous? I just didn’t give up. I didn’t notice it until tonight. Giving the speech about my Thirty Seconds, I was reminded it is courageous to save a life. I found myself afraid of those words. Why fear courage? I think it is the responsibility to be something more than human that the media shows us courage is. Batman is couragous. He’s a super hero. I am just a small and broken woman at the end of her endurance trying to make it through every day.

I am trying to teach myself what courage can be, beyond the black and white John Wayne dreams. I am trying to teach myself that courage is simply living. Transgendered people who have the courage to go through the change, to live in the sex that fits their minds and not their bodies are courageous because it is their will to live. They can die for being who they are.

How terrifying it must be to have to pee in public. How terrifying it must be to go clothes shopping, to go out and feel that fear… what if someone figures out who they are and in their ridiculous hatred they attack? That is courage. It is also horribly sad that we live in a world where it is not a hate crime to attack a trans individual. I didn’t know that until recently, I thought that it was a hate crime. It should be. Living without a legal saftey net, living without basic human respect, and living without the ability to be accepted by any other minority (except for some of us who actually do care) takes courage. There are trans persons who are unable to live as they wish, because it is too dangerous.

It takes courage to live at all. It takes courage for the college student to go to her late night class, because she hears all the warnings about rape. It takes courage for the woman who was date raped to speak up, risking victim blaming and slut shaming. It takes courage for the teen mother to take pride in being a mother, bucking against the stereotypes about teen mothers. It takes courage for the disabled man to go up a flight of stairs on his hands and knees to see if his able bodied friends and family are alright after hearing a gunshot. He couldn’t escape if there was a killer. That is courage.

To revile the word courage is to revile the act of living. It takes courage for our students to go to school. We live in a world where the terror of school shootings is very real, where the hate that a disabled student feels can destroy their minds and their souls. We live in a world where there is no safe haven. It takes courage to raise a child with disabilities and to love them. It takes courage to admit that you are disabled.

It takes courage to say that you do not want to see a movie because it is full of sexism. It takes courage to be a Womanist. It takes courage to be a Feminist. It takes courage to be an advocate. It takes courage to write. It takes courage to cry. It takes courage to go out, knowing discrimination is waiting for you. It takes courage to date a person who is of another color. It takes courage to love someone who is of the same sex.

In a world as full of toxic messages, it is cowardly to defame courage. To hold the power to inspire one person is enough to change the world. To inspire countless thousands? That is a gift unparalleled. Forgive me for feeling that I was unworthy of the word courage.

I have been courageous. I am courageous to write about my time as a Victim. I am courageous to have ideas and to share them. I am courageous to start a business during a Depression.

You are courageous too. I am sure you can list ways you are courageous. I would like the comments on this post to be dedicated to your courage. What have you done that is courageous today?

Today my act of courage is to start planning the wedding ceremony for two young women in love. My acts of courage in life will include officiating their wedding ceremony. I do this with pride, and to honor their love and the courage it takes to stand up and proudly say, “I am Gay, I am Pagan, and I am in Love!”

Thank you for your life. Thank you for your courage.

The V Word

The V word is Victim. I wasn’t really expecting to write about Survivors and Victims but a post was put up over at Feministing and it made me think. I often use them a bit interchangeably for myself, but I shy away from the word Victim. I was always told to be a victim let the attacker, abuser, or generally bad person win. You have to survive. You have to be more than they tore you down as. You must be better.

Victim, it is a nasty word, but only because we are told that. I have, in some of my writings the term Victim/Survivor. I tried once creating a new word but none stuck. Victim. When I wear that name tag my heart is open, bleeding with agony. I feel my tears pouring over my flesh, I feel the pain of the beatings freshly, I feel the open wounds in my body, and I feel the grinding finality of impending death that never quite comes. That is why I cannot be a victim. If I am just a victim, I cannot stop suffocating.

When I wear the name survivor I sit up straighter, my eyes dry out and grow cold. I am a hawk, I am a warrior. I am armed to the teeth and have armor with few chinks. I am the great defender of Victims everywhere. I wear Survivor when I advocate. Survivor is strong. It is not a false strength. It is the tempering that comes from fire. I am not steel, I am a +10 Anti Bad guy Blade of Honor. I am the magical weapon that can win the battle. I am everything I need.

So what comes then from the dual title? I think that is when I am merely myself. I am not having to fight so hard that I cannot acknowledge that pulsating vulnerability, but I am not so bleeding out emotionally. My emotions are not overriding logic. I am just me. Survivor/Victim. Victim/Survivor. It is the best title, for it is the title I wear when balanced.

At times I question my right to either title. What right do I have to be a victim when someone else is hurting worse? When someone else has had more pain? That is when I remind myself that my pain is valid. I have been through enough that I shouldn’t have to ask myself that yet, I think every Victim/Survivor does. It is a part of the human mind set, or it is something we are taught that we must never be either. Survivor is better, it is the socially acceptable title but it is the hardest one to live with. Being a survivor often means rejecting your history. That is not my term for it, but that is the terms of the agreement that society has shown me. I never signed that contract. I did not enlist to be abused. I didn’t say, “Hey why don’tcha rape me today?” I didn’t ask for it.

Survivor is often a term used to excuse the victim blaming in the media. It is a term lobbed at people who aren’t finished surviving. Did you know I survived my disability? I am not a victim of my disability but I am not done with it yet. I will never survive my disabilities. They will be with me until I die. Neither title fits then. Both are misused. With the Rhianna/Chris Brown thing I have heard and read that she is a survivor. Why are we labeling her a label that she has to give herself?

I really doubt this woman is ready to be a survivor. She is still fighting, she is still being a victim. Being a victim doesn’t end the moment the abuse/rape/tragedy does. It ends only when you begin to heal and only if you choose to stop wearing the label. It only ends when you are ready. No one can tell you to stop being a victim and start being a survivor. No one can tell you that one word is worth more than the other. No one can tell you what you believe about them. You are the only one who can choose. That is why I will always be a victim. That is why I will always be a survivor.

My mother used to warn her daughters about playing the victim. If we complained too much about my older brother hitting us or pinching and poking, we were playing the Victim. The word became forbidden. She didn’t mean to wound us. She did however leave a wound. It became something that was wrong, it was wrong to acknowledge abuse. That was the last thing she intended yet, that was what my brain did with it. It wasn’t okay to say no to a man with whatever he wanted. I had to just take the abuse. I had to say I was a survivor but I wasn’t.

It also destroyed the potential relationship I wanted with my brother. I wanted to be like the kids on TV, the Brady Bunch kids or the Full House girls. I wanted to fight but always get along while fighting. We don’t get along. We can’t be in the same room with one another. Something happens when we do, and it isn’t pleasant. He sees me and doesn’t understand that I really do hurt. It isn’t something he understands. I have always ‘played the victim’ in his mind therefore it validated his behavior. It validated his right, in his mind, to poke me in my spinal injury. It validated his poor jokes. It validated his right to bash me for gaining weight.

Rights he doesn’t really have. The Victim Word is often used as a validation for why the abuse happened. Victims just as for it right? Being a victim is hard. It is harder than being a survivor in the reality that the pain is active in those moments. Neither title should be wanted. I do not think any person wants to be a victim. I cannot heal with my brother until he is ready to see beyond what we were taught about victims. I cannot heal with him until I am ready to risk him being unable to do so. I am still a little girl in parts of my head and heart. I am still hearing my mother snarl, “Stop playing the victim.”

I pick up my sword then, don my armor and try to not cry. I cannot cry most of the time either as victim or survivor. I only cry when I can wear them both. I only cry when I can wear the title of One who Lives. It is longer, it is also the simple act of living and existing that gives it to me. If you are either a Victim or a Survivor this article isn’t meant to bash you, it isn’t meant to bash anyone at all. It is my answer to Victim or Survivor.

I am both.

The Doom Ship

Not everyone gets to ride the Doomship. I ride, others ride, and yet I often take it for granted. What is the Doomship you ask? The Doomship is the Ship of Life, riding towards the birthday of Death. It sounds horribly dramatic and is.

Children born with serious illness are often told, “You won’t live to be 21,” Or something similar. I have a list of birthdays that have passed, my next is another Doom Birthday. When I broke my back, and it was first diagnosed I had a series of doctors tell me that my organs would fail by 25. My birthday isn’t for a few months, I was reading blogs off of the Disabled Blog Carnival and started reading Temporarily Disabled. Not only is this a great read, though with each post I tend to cry just a little for the child who was aching and the pain she has been through. She turned 26 and posted about the Doomship, sailing past into the great unknown.

With Doomship Birthdays past, it is like looking at a precipice of great unknown. I know I am going to live past 25. I am confident only due to surviving so long. These waters are familiar. I am pensive too, due to my Annual Cancer Scare. I get one a year. This time it is my reproductive system. I had my annual blood work done and my white count is high. My pap came back with abnormal cells. We’re redoing them both to verify before any panicking is done.

I waited three years before getting a pap, because no doctor would accommodate my need to not be in their perfect position, or to even help me balance on the table. I can’t do it myself. I need someone else to help heft my carcass around. I know if I do have cancer I won’t die. I will just get over it. My doctor is more worried than I am.

Right now I am surrounded by everything I have ever wanted. Not the things like the toys I never had, but the love I most desired. On my right I have Sprite, the service cat, curled up and purring against my back. She is helping me to not spasm so I can type the words out. My body is rebelling. I have on my left William drooling into my shirt, and every so often poking the keyboard with a paw to see what is so fascinating. He sleeps, then paws then sleeps a bit more.

In the other room my Person is puttering around, doing the dishes after making a meal of my choice. I had spaghetti with sausage meatballs. I haven’t had meatballs in a long time, but he made them for me, tolerating my lewd jokes. My home is clean, my bed is comfortable. My friends and family are far enough away and close enough at the same time. I even have high speed internet to keep me amused on those days when movement is unacceptable.

The Doomship sails on, the waves splash, the thunder crashes, and my life flashes before my eyes, but, it is the life I am living that I am proud of. Not the memories, not the past. It is my future that holds me in it’s sway. I reach for it, sitting in the prow, praying to my gods, listening to the world, and taking part in changing it.

I write something every day, and each time it is self discovery. I discovered I can write non fiction. I never knew I could. I know the mechanics of writing are sound, as I sell fiction periodically, and write it almost daily. It is merely the fear of my life that has held me back. I feared upsetting those with the power over my life and death. I am now the Captain of my Doomship. I mutinied.

So, as I rest, my ship swaying, I look out and see that everyone else is in a Doomship too, they just do not know it. They do not prepare, they do not adapt. They aren’t aware that they have to. Red sky in morning sailor take warning, the storm is coming and the night is humming… wait not for the red sky at night, for on the Doomship there is no Sailor’s Delight.

  • Polls

  • Ye Olde Archives of Fury

  • Top Rated

  • Top Clicks

    • None