It was thirty years ago today
| This year, I've done a great number of things which required significant courage and as a result, my life has completely transformed from where it was a year ago. Today is my thirtieth birthday, so I think I am entitled to one self-congratulatory blog post, which also explains some of what I've been up to whilst not blogging, or hardly ever blogging this year. Things haven't settled down just yet and next year promises to be another kind of adventure, but life is better for me, at thirty years old, than it has been for at least the last decade. Because I was brave. |
I have read and talked to others a great deal about courage over the years, especially in relationship to disability. Disabled people are often called brave for simply existing, let alone achieving things or making changes in our lives. We answer this misplaced compliment with the fact that faced with these limitations, you just get on with it. You have very little choice. Mik Scarlet wrote about this most recently in the context of the way disability is represented on television (his two other 'Lectures' on this are well worth a read).
But this year, I have been properly brave and learnt a few new things about bravery. The first is that once you are brave about one thing, further acts of courage become a lot easier. The most difficult thing I had to do, I did in March.
I allowed someone else to read my novel. There has been no occasion in my life so far where I have had to place such profound trust in someone. And honestly, this was the bravest thing I had to do. This may seem rather silly, given that I wrote the novel to be read and it would have been a ridiculous thing not to show it to anyone. But I was so disheartened about it all and I had no evidence that it wasn't a complete pile of pants. As soon as life calms down enough to look into agents and publishers, letting others read it will be a doddle in comparison.
The second lesson is that whilst we have very limited choices about whether to do the brave thing or not, there still is some choice. I have long thought this with disability - we don't deserve medals for carrying on and living our lives, but occasionally you meet someone who did give up. Some people experience loss, whether it comes in the shape of disability, bereavement, divorce or financial disaster and they simply become their own tragedy and get stuck as victims. It almost always requires some courage to get over things and move on. Sometimes, because people and their experiences are complicated, it requires a lot of courage, even where we have everything to gain by it and even though it's still inappropriate to be considered heroic just for making the right choice.
In April, I brought my marriage to an end. On many levels, I had no sensible choice at all and I faced very little temptation to do otherwise. But it was still a choice which required significant courage - hopefully far more than most break-ups require. I also had choices about how I went about things. I went to great lengths to behave honourably and kindly. And that was brave.
The third thing I learnt is that acts of courage require faith. There are some things you have to believe in, in the absence of evidence, especially when it comes to your own capabilities and the intentions of other people. You have to be able to make promises to yourself and others, and to believe the promises of others if you trust them.
At the beginning of this year, I had become very cynical about others and I had no faith whatsoever in my own resilience. I felt I would be flattened under the weight of any further crises, and that I couldn't believe anything another person said, especially about their feelings. But I learnt. I learnt very quickly and realised both my own strength and the strength that others were prepared to lend me. I am an extremely capable person when it comes down to it.
So what else did I do this year?
Before I go, more reading for you: Ira provides by far the best festive post this year, God Bless Us Everyone on Tiny Tim and disability. And disabled bloggers in the UK need to know about One Month Before Heartbreak.