I will share a personal story of "Brave."
Two years ago, I went through a period of personal loss and breakdown. I have stared down many dragons in my life, but this was the lowest low; I could not find calmness. I could not summon confidence. Self-love? Ha, where to access that, beneath all these layers of pain and distress?
Old narratives of being too demanding, "uppity," deserving this crisis, having no one but myself to blame for my ill-fated situation, visions of losing my home, family, husband and ending up broke, sick, and on the street were literally clinging to my back in a nightmarish embrace. And then my beloved best friend, my dog, up and died. (This does not even take into account what was happening in the news at the national and even global level. That alone was cause for much anxiety.)
I also was grieving for and with friends and loved ones who were going through struggles. Some were even dealing with life-altering health issues, some of those would claim their lives too soon, leaving the rest of us behind and brokenhearted. It was a stark reminder to try and carpe the diem.
But the physicality of depression and anxiety can be crippling. My heart literally hurt; my head pounded; my pulse raced; and very mean voices in my own head were laughing and lamenting and worrying and tsk-tsking nonstop.
Yet at the same time, after prayers and begging for clarity, the blessings of kindness came in to counterbalance the harm I had experienced. A friend paid for me to have a round of cognitive behavioral therapy, and another gave me several life-affirming sessions of EMDR therapy to overcome deep patterns of fear stemming back to childhood which had manifested themselves in the workplace abuse I'd suffered. I began clawing my way back to myself through teeny, tiny steps of self-care.
And then, one afternoon, during a simple little five-minute phone-app meditation, a tiny voice in my head rasped: Be Brave. You're in deep, just walk through it, brave step by brave step, like a hero.
That voice, coming from somewhere very deep surprised me. It was the foremothers talking to me! It was an affirming feeling, not eerie, and it reminded me of another moment when I had had this time-traveling visitation from a foremother: birthing my second daughter.
Without too many graphic details, I had just sent my husband, our toddler, the midwife, and the nurse away from the birthing room, expecting a long and grueling process of pre-laboring. We put on a CD of opera because this was a dramatic time. Holy Caruso! Within a matter of seconds, I went from middling to very active labor. Very very. And as some may know, it's nothing like the movies!
I was in such focused sensation (aka pain) I couldn't even ring the call button. It was one of those moments when time stops; you're thinking this kid is coming right now, it's going to fly out of me, can I catch it? This is not a time you want to be alone. But I saw her in that second: an ancestor, standing in a field (she was a slave, as had been my maternal great-great-grandfather).
She put her hand on my back: Be Brave.
I calmed just long enough to stumble back to my bed and ring the call button. When the nurse saw my face, she was like oh wow, yes, this is it. Somehow, that ancestor had given me the strength to dial my husband and older daughter, who did a quick U-turn and returned to the hospital. Be Brave. She, that ancestor, midwifed me through the very swift birth of our second daughter. Had she been waiting for my call? Is she there all the time? This is a journey I am interested in understanding better.
In this spirit of sisterhood and maybe some mystical magnificence, in the big moments and in the mundane challenges my mother-in-law calls "the heck of life," maybe we just start with Be Brave. Listen to what the foremothers have to say to us, take note, and keep stepping. Eventually, you will have taken many steps and you will be through. And along the way, what a time can be had!
I am very thrilled to share the birth of my "third daughter," Brave Sis Journey-Journal with you.
- Rozella Kennedy, Founder, Brave Sis Project