The Business of Bravery

 

“What we have to believe, what we have to know, what we have to embrace to keep ourselves from going insane, is that what we do is brave.”

Her words cut with conviction.  Such should be expected of Tyece of Twenties Unscripted; she has travelled this road before me.
But, for now, I have to stop her quote here, at the word “brave.”
Brave. In recent days, the word has fallen from the lips of mentors and flitted through my e-mails. It has been taped to my back all week, dressed as an adjective, dressed as a verb, dressed as a noun, dressed as me.
At the junction of brave and craven, I wrote “Sign Language,” a detailed description of the sexual abuse I endured for five years. My story made its public debut last Tuesday in Everything EnJ’s series, What Binds Us Together. The last person I wanted to read it was my father, followed closely by my mother and sister. Not because they didn’t know about the abuse, but because I didn’t want to subject them to the details. Especially not in writing.

Transcription knows no mercy. It yields not to gentle tones. It will not allow you a moment to collect yourself, and it cares not for your horrified inflection when you ask “why my baby?” “why my sister?” “why my friend?” Once a story has been transcribed, the words stand silently, in brazen formation across a page, as the narrative marches on. As unforgiving as writing can be, it is still, to me, the truest of any outlet, more frank than throwing a punch or running a mile, more telling than painting a picture. And so, for the sake of myself, I released my story.

When I wrote “Sign Language,” I deemed it all but brave to spread my soul across a page for the World Wide Web to consume. I tasted tart revulsion in writing it. I felt a composed timeliness in submitting it. But I kept coming up short in the bravery department. This week the School of Hard Knocks issued me some notes on the word “brave,” in all forms, free of charge.

Brave ˈbrāv (adj.) – ready to defend, honor, and protect your scars; ready to say “I love you, but I don’t need you to understand”

I finally felt the wave of “brave” when my actions were questioned, when I was asked if I had considered how publishing my story would affect those around me. Now, I’m fairly considerate. And the short answer to that indirectly criticizing question is yes. From 1994- 2015 I considered everyone but Ro.
I was considerate enough not to speak up. Because he said it was our little secret, because I didn’t want my parents to know the dirty details— the hows and whens and wheres, because I didn’t want my brother to feel like he’d failed to protect me, because I didn’t want my sister to wonder where she had been while the washing machine was running, because I didn’t want people to treat me any differently, because I didn’t want our family to hate him.
I’ve silently, and considerately, wrestled for years trying to discern the person to whom this struggle and these scars most belong. And, as it turns out, all things considered, I’ve won and I’ve lost. The good news: I got full custody, ownership, and all rights to my scars. The heavy news: I got full custody, ownership, and all rights to my scars. To have and to hold, ‘til death do us part. My stories, and all of their residual effects, are mine. I can, and will, do with them as I please. I can, and will, recognize that this is about me.  I can, and will, do what is necessary to heal, whether others agree with my actions or not. Bravery is accepting your scars and taking those vows: to defend, to honor, and protect what is yours.
Brave ˈbrāv (v.) to look someone in the face after they’ve seen your soul; to make oneself clear

Clear. Transparent. Ever So Roco began last year as my own little space in my own little corner of the internet. Since then, eyes have raked through my musings a thousand times. Family, strangers, and those in between now trek to the Ever So Roco station to catch my train of thought. And I, as the conductor, am brave.

Bravery isn’t always the gallant roar of the lion. Sometimes it’s as subtle as the period at the end of your truth. Bravery is looking someone in the face after they’ve seen your soul. It’s stirring grits, stapling papers, discussing the weather, and having coffee with people who’ve reviewed you in your most raw form. It’s embracing your truth; whether the truth is hidden in a tiny corner of the Internet or broadcast live in Times Square. The key to braving the world is continuing to flourish in the light and discomfort of transparency.

Bravery ˈbrā-və-rē (n.) the act of owning, presenting, and living in your truth; The act of being Ro for the week.

The truth can hurt as easily as it can heal. It is important that we not live in fear of the pain of the truth. If you give it the opportunity, the truth will cut deep enough to strike the well of relief.I am at peace with, exhausted by, and maybe a little relieved at the events of this past week and a half. It seems fitting to end this post with a salute to all personal bloggers. To those who know their truth and share it, to those who spread their souls across a page for the world to consume, to those who post a different kind of outfit of the day: baring their souls on their sleeves, donning emotional accessories, I sincerely salute you.
With that, I return to one of the best things I’ve heard all week from one of my favorite personal bloggers:
“What we have to believe, what we have to know, what we have to embrace to keep ourselves from going insane, is that what we do is brave. It is necessary. It is a part of healing. It is doing something for women who are not able to do it for themselves or say it for themselves or think it for themselves. As I say so often, this is the revolutionary work.”—Tyece Wilkins
Y’all say it with me: we are necessary; we are brave. I am necessary; I am the definition of brave. There has been a shift in the paradigm and I am the revolution. And for once, it’s me, my truth, and how I feel about it; the gang’s all here.
Be brave & be blessed, good people!

 

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