Friday, June 3, 2011

Brave vs. Strong

Over the course of my PTSD journey there have been many well-meaning people who have called me brave. I’m never entirely sure what they are referring to, but each time I say, no, no, no, I am not brave. Sometimes people will argue this point with me. One friend got really upset with me over it. Once someone told me that people need to see me as brave as a reflection of their own needs.

Brave is a difficult word for me. Brave - Possessing or displaying courage; valiant. To undergo or face courageously. To challenge; dare. The word brave is a trigger word for me because I know that there was one time in my life when I should have been brave. And I wasn’t. I had one brief opportunity to step up, to change the course of events, to show some courage. And I didn’t. I froze. I failed. And I live with the memory and the horrendous results of that failure every day of my life. I know what brave is and what it is not. I am not brave.

However, I am getting more comfortable with the word ‘strong’. When I wrote a post about returning to the scene, my friend e commented that I had a core of iron. I wrote that on my hand and stared at it the whole ride there. Core of Iron. Of course, I knew I didn’t have a core of iron but what I did have was a whole army of people who cared about me, who gave me the strength to do what I needed to do. From my therapist who makes me believe I can do this, to Martha who makes me laugh to ease the anxiety, to one of my dearest friends driving to that city “just in case” I needed her, to every blog reader who emails me or leaves encouraging comments.

It seems to me that brave is something you have to be alone. And when left alone, I am so far from brave. In fact, when left alone, I can easily become a trembling wuss. But strong . . . strong is something that is fed and supported by people who love you. Like a storm that gathers and builds strength from moisture in the air. And so I am saying, yes. Yes I am strong. I am strong because of every one of you who have stayed with me through this journey and prayed for me, and sent me positive energy, and had virtual tea with me, and supplied me with endless chocolate, and never ever let go even when I was going through a lot of self doubt and mood swings and failures and selfishness.

You will never know how much your words and prayers and hugs and energy have meant to me. You have given me the strength to get up and face each challenge. Every day.

So please, do not call me brave. It is way too emotional for me. But you can call me strong. And I will thank you for it because you are my core of iron.


  1. I apologize to you, because I've done it.

    "Strong" it is, then.


  2. Yes, but don't underestimate your own dedication, commitment and desire to be free as a source of strength in your recovery and success.

    Great song!

  3. I apologize too.

    Drawing strength from each other - love, love, love it.

  4. You WERE built tough.

    Don't ever forget it.

    And if you do, we'll be here to remind you.

  5. Survivors are strong. We know this because of the tremendous strength it takes to get back up and keep going every day. How much easier is it to hide behind our wounds and withdraw from life? We are strong. We do have a core of iron. And, we have so much more. We are not defined by our past, but our present, by who we are right now, today, and by our history of what we have

    Please believe that you are an amazing, strong, resourceful, resilient, determined survivor. And, believe that about me. We will look out for each other.


  6. I'm so very sorry if my words were painful for you, I feel terrible. I meant them with only the best of intentions.

    Thank you for laying out your thoughts on these two words; in my mind, they are almost one and the same, I use them interchangeably even, so it is interesting to see a different perspective.

    Please know that I think the world of you and are always in awe of what you are going through and trying to do, I would never mean to hurt you (or anyone else for that matter).

    Thank you for the reminder to be more mindful in the words I choose to use.

  7. Another well meaning person saying "I'm sorry."

    You are the "strongest" person I know.

  8. No apologies are necessary. I am just trying to work out my own issues with the word.

  9. Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day that says, 'I will try again tomorrow.'

    -Mary Anne Radmacher