My Courage

Mount Everest

Many people say I’m courageous. I understand that. However, most of what I’ve done is not fuelled by self-confidence. It’s powered by my will to live.

Strong emotions provoke my flight-or-flight response.  I struggle with these highs and lows daily and thankfully have noticed that aging puts things on a more even keel.

Whether to appease my inner critic or not, today my courage is about saying the following:

I haven’t lied about a single thing that happened to me. I didn’t even embellish.

In fact, I’ve held back so much out of embarrassment, shame, and anger.  This is also because I do deal with some people’s accusations, contempt, and labelling of me. I have trouble making new friends, especially when some of whom must eventually reject me because my reality is just too much. Saying that doesn’t mean I am unsympathetic to what’s going on in other people’s lives, their sensibilities, or difficulties. That would be untrue.  Yet, I feel compelled to share my whole story. I care very much about other people and empathize always, almost to a fault. I’m still learning how to stay centered within.

Recently, an anonymous person emailed an attack on me and mocked this website. This stung and hurt deeply. It set me off on an introspection and troubled sleep two weeks long. Now I am bouncing back and work with a renewed passion. When I cut straight to the root of it, I think, “I take up so little space in the real and virtual world, get over it emotional stalker, you.”

I don’t know the origin of the following quote but find it relevant here. “It isn’t the mountain ahead that wears you out; it’s the grain of sand in your shoe.” To me, this means that if one traumatic event equals that grain of sand–with that alone enough to change you–when multiplied three, four or six times, the contents of that shoe, and its resulting damage on the foot, will cumulatively result in a more significant loss–a leg. My whole leg.

So, given I’m climbing the Lhotse Face without a prosthetic, I could not have grown and healed any faster than I did. I will work on it as long as I need, and no longer than that, thank you very much. Nobody has a right to judge me, as I don’t them. No matter what timetable they project on me, my healing and inevitable reckoning with the life I was given.

Finally, I still struggle with my self-image. I don’t think I’m special or important. I’m just trying to give some of what I have to share, survive, and open up possibilities for myself. With no hope, the alternatives make my hair bristle.

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