How do we measure courage? I guess it very much depends on your mind set. There are so many ways that it can be measured.
We hear stories about the loss of lives in our armed forces whilst serving overseas; sadly this is a measure of their courage after the loss of life. Unselfishness whilst serving their last thought being the safety of those around them. War time medals of valour giving for the enormous courage shown. Bravery or courage differs in fortitude in a crisis situation. Bravery is a deliberate choice to go from a place of safety to danger or remain in a perilous position to provide help.
There is the fight for life if we are diagnosed with a life shattering illness such as cancer, as we embark on a series of treatment. Uphill battles that can feel as if the struggle will become too much, that we are never going to get that all clear. Not forgetting those that show so much dignity, with the knowledge that for them the battle is now lost. Their only thoughts turning to ease the pain of those they will leave behind.
Then there is the courage shown so often of a young family having to prepare for that loss. Going forward with the firm belief that no matter what it takes, they are willing to give all that’s asked of them. Making sure their children have a guided hand in their journey towards acceptance of the appending future. This is no easy task whilst dealing with the grief of a young mind, not fully understanding the logistics of everything going on around them. Once more this shows strength and courage in yet another guise. Putting aside their grief for the sake of the nurturing feeling within that should never be underestimated.
It can be a walk into the unknown by some, leaving for distant lands to help those that are on the edge of starvation with no help in seems in sight. But even with that knowledge on board, many take a leap of faith into the unknown to make a difference. Sure that their efforts will change the tide of destruction and death. Happy to face the enormous tack they will find themselves facing.
All of the above equate to the point I am trying to put across. I am absolutely not trying to compare, or saying that either one of the above scenarios is the front runner. Each and everyone show immense fortitude. We can’t put a yardstick on courage or measure it by standard by using a comparison.
But there is another show of strength that sometimes goes unnoticed. Why because so often it’s too uncomfortably to talk about, or it is met by critical judgment. But the courage faced by those that have been abused is up there with the best of them. I stand before you personally a testament to that fact. It takes courage to even admit you need help. It takes enormous courage to bare your soul to a complete strange. In my experience the first endeavour sadly never holds fast. This then only compounds our inner most thoughts, justifying within us that we are in a battle that we will never win. The fight becomes harder each time that happens. During our lifetime we walk past many doors that are not entered, we choose not to walk through them but they were always there. So how do we find the courage to enter in the knowledge that for us it may be the wrong door? The answer has to be the acceptance within us that it may take a little while. If we take a look at our ever day lives many times we fail at the first attempt, but that does not stop us trying again.
Life is precious and until we stop in our tracks neither being pushed from behind or hindered from the front, we are not living in the here and now. We will continue on through wasting this precious gift of life. Tuff words I know but they are the reality. It matters not whom our abuser may have been, it matter greatly that they are still present within us affecting our lives. We need to find the strength and firmness of mind; resolute endurance has always been with us and should never be in doubt. The fact that you are here reading my words for me puts that question beyond reproach.
Courage against the enemy – for us it’s found in a passive courage, one that means we can move forward without the need to feel that we are at war within. The alternative is to carry on along the road of darkness inadvertently tearing pieces from ourselves; they have to be discarded. Cast off never to be salvaged. That’s a fight in which we will never win.
Sitting here I find myself wondering why it took me so long to understand all of the above. But without doubt we are back there with my old friend time. That’s a tuff nut to crack and one that you alone will know when it’s time to face. I walked through many doors to reach the place that I am now in. One of complete understanding that I was only ever in mortal combat with myself and the demons within -my abuser had left many years ago. I am by no means the oracle and if I have any words of wisdom; they come from the journey I had to take. I am not the bravest soul in the world; my courage comes from the peace now within me. By this I mean that at some point you will walk through the right door, but only by entering a few along the way that hold nothing for you. They may even take something from you that you don’t understand.
We are well aware from many episodes seen both in the past or present day that whilst too fractions won’t back down, then unfortunately war is the only outcome. Unfortunately also this rings true with a mind that is in turmoil. But if you use the best strategy the war can be won. For many that may mean that it becomes a particular long term plan for success, but you will be moving in the right direction that’s what matters. The day will come when you will stand proud as a conscientious objector, knowing that you have walked away to a new life triumphant......

Author's Bio: 

Teresa Joyce was born in 1958 the middle child of three. After losing her father at a very young age; it was to set the pattern for the rest of her life. Losing was something that she would have to get used to. Today she still has some memory of her father, but in truth it’s all a little hazy. Her mother through no fault of her own after that loss had no other alternative, then to return to her parent’s home with her children in tow. This family unit were to spend only a few years there, until the wind of change came around once more. Teresa still holds many happy memories from her time there as a child. Happy memories are something that Teresa holds in very short supply, and she has treasured them always. Her mother was set to meet the man that was to become her stepfather, and they moved on once more to a new city with the promise of a new life. Hopefully it would be a happy one for all concerned, but it became a place for Teresa that felt far more like a prison. One in which she would spend many days months and years hating. Teresa swore to herself that she would leave all this behind her at the first possible occasion. She can still clearly remember the day that she left that family home and joined the Royal Air Force. It was just two months off her sixteenth birthday. Her stepfather had informed her that to remain living in his house, she had to live by his rules. This was a big decision for her to take being so young, but she could no longer live by any rules that he imposed. Never really understanding at that time, what she was really running from. Memories of those years living by his rules were buried so deep, that previous years and events were only a burr to her. Teresa’s Time spent while in the Royal Air Force was very rewarding, and she involved herself in all and everything possible. After meeting her ex -husband whilst she was on leave, she then left this all behind her and married. It was greatly missed and in retrospect, it would be something that she would live to regret many years later. Life as a married woman changed many things for her; the biggest of all would be the arrival of her son. Teresa loved him even before he was born, and he is still able to pull on her heart strings daily.
Sadly after many years, she found herself unable to stay within that marriage. The onset of a set of circumstances beyond her control would stamp its seal, rendering the marriage unworkable. Engineered by the involvement of the one man Teresa had learnt to hate - her stepfather. The marriage was dissolved and there was no going back on her part, that door was firmly closed behind her. Some years later she would find herself in a long term lesbian relationship, firmly believing that anything touched by a man was tainted; bringing with it only pain and heartache. Teresa’s thoughts at that time were that the worst was surly now behind her, but her life was set to make another turn from her envisaged path. It was to arrive in the form of an accident, which once again would alter her life forever. After many months and many doctors reports she was ill health retired, unable to return to work in either one of her two loved occupations. Teresa was affected by this far more then she could have ever expected, she was left alone with nothing but time, and still within the mix of a completely insane situation; it was at this point that Teresa would enter into the mental health care system fully, to have any hope of dealing with everything going on around her. That care umbrella is still part of her everyday life. The loss of her mother through less than adequate health care, brought her pain like she had never thought possible. Teresa saw herself delving deeper and deeper into her own unconscious thoughts, revealing to her at that time memories which seemed so alien. Ultimately her mental health would prove to be a factor, in the disintegration of her then lesbian relationship.
It’s something that Teresa is still trying to come to terms with even now. She now lives alone with only a small dog for company, which in truth she is happy with. Firmly believing that she can’t hurt those she loves, if they are not there for her to do so; to her mind segregation is the answer. Teresa is still unable to work and in constant pain daily. Maybe today you could say that she has once more taken back control of her life, but only outwardly. The truth is she still carries the past along with her, like an uninvited guest at a party. The one that never seems to know when the party is over and it’s time to leave. Teresa is now trying to live her life as fully as possible, through her son and grandsons; they have become her light at the end of the tunnel.