Thursday, September 20


With spring days upon us, I was looking through my draw for some suitable t-shirts to wear. Most of them were pilled, misshapen, or had an unpleasant odour which refused to be washed out and I had a very female crisis at this discovery. Basics never last, so I never bother to spend much money on them. They get washed most days, and that’s what kills them so fast. Anyway, I went shopping and found a top that I loved. Usually I don’t wear prints or words, to my eye they are often wanting in the style deparment. But I guess it depends on the word...because I ended up buying an Esprit top with both a word and a picture on it.

It has a red squiggly heart on the front, and the word ‘courage’

It was one of those times where you just grab it off the rack and know that it’s the one. I’ve worn it ceaselessly since.

 Somehow over the past few years ‘courage’ has come to be one of my favourite words, and I mutter it to myself at appropriate times. It seems that being alive takes a lot of courage. Just putting one foot out of bed in the morning takes courage on those days where I feel I can’t move.

little wobbly steps

My favourite thing about courage is this: if you routinely practice being courageous, facing your fears and fighting your weaknesses, you gradually wear them away till they are problems no longer.

I was 19 and I could not go to the doctor alone.
I could not go for a blood test without mum.
I could not drive the car without panic attacks.

But I was pushed into frequent solo doctor trips once I found myself living in Melbourne away from my mum, and with a husband at work. I went for bloodtests on my own, in complete trepidation, and survived. And I hopped in the car which made me shake and sweat and cry – over and over again with Ben beside me. And now its 2 years later, and Ben asks me if I want him to drive me to the psychiatrist because he has a free morning. I thank him, but say that I really don’t mind driving at all, and feel full of confidence. Driving has no fear for me, nor does going to doctor’s surgeries. It’s a delicious feeling, this sense of overcoming. 

Last weekend we took our puppy to a big waterhole at the park.

“Are you sure he will be able to swim?” asked Ben

“Of course he’ll be able to! He’s a dog. It’s not like we have to take him to puppy swimming school,” I replied, confident in my assertion.

We watched him running up to the water and then backing away from the unknown substance. Some bigger dogs jumped in and enthusiastically doggy paddled in the deep. Our little dog looked on curiously. We decided it was time for him to take the plunge, and Ben threw a nice stick into the water. Without a thought, Wolfie jumped for the stick and splashed into the water – where he sank down. And down. I could see his floppy ears floating up under the water, but he wasn’t struggling, or swimming. My heart stopped. Ben moved to the edge of the water, about to jump in to get him, but just before he moved, Wolfie started to flap himself upwards with great effort and unpolished skill. He finally got his head above water and groped for the rock, where he hung for a while looking scared and dishevelled. 

I was so proud of him. He evidently didn’t know what to do at first, he just went down. But then he struggled, and pushed and somehow got himself up. I wouldn’t call it swimming, but it was a big plunge and the first step. And I thought of what courage it takes to do things for the first time – sometimes it’s still scary at the 20th. But imperceptibly it improves, each time you dare to be courageous.

photo source

One of my weaknesses is this beastly disorder where I pull out my hair compulsively – Trichotillomania. Often I have felt sure that I will go into old age still pulling my hair for relief, though at least I could wear a wig then and it wouldn’t be so odd. Yet I know I don’t have to be a slave to this – if I’m to win over Trichotillomania I’m going to have to kick it hard.

I have a chart on my fridge.

If I pull out my hair, I am not allowed my nightly cup of tea and gluten free muffin. If you know me at all, that is pretty much the worst punishment imaginable. I see the stars on the days that I have resisted the urges and I feel excitement – each star is another sign that I need not be conquered. It gives me courage to fight the urges when they next arrive; I am determined to have another day of beating the hair-pulling monster (and another cup of tea). Sometimes the battle inside is excruciating, but there is always pain involved with courage and change. Being outside of my comfort zone is horrendous at the time, but without fail I am relieved, thankful and inspired afterwards. 

It doesn’t have to be two steps at a time. Just one. Just one tiny courageous step towards a better way.

1 comment:

  1. Love this Dee. We all need courage but you more than most. Wolfie was an amazing example too. Keep the faith.