“I am not my bravery”

I am the youngest of five, and my parents divorced when I was about 9. By nature or nurture—and I’m honestly not sure which it is—I am a peacemaker. Maybe some would call it a “people pleaser”. I don’t know. But my instincts run high on the side of creating, maintaining, and keeping peace in my home and in relationships. I don’t always address issues right away, so if I am agitated by something I may not acknowledge it or the person who triggered the agitation. Instead, I might internalize it and try to keep things moving, because I don’t want to introduce conflict into a situation or make someone angry or hurt their feelings. When I am hurting, I will often hurt in silence and in private, holding in what I’m feeling so as not to burden others with whatever is weighing me down. That’s why I write. It’s why I sing, to a significant extent; my music is one of the few outlets I allow myself to fully utilize as a method by which to release it all.

I have an amazing group of friends who love and sustain me, but even in that safe space I find it difficult not to be the hero, not to be the one offering comfort and support rather than seeking it. I’ve struggled with this more in the past year than ever before, because I have needed so much more support than ever before. On December 20, 2009, my oldest sister committed suicide. My friends were amazing, taking such good care of me and my mom and making it clear to me that, whatever I needed, they would be there. And they were. They still are. But I feel conflicted about asking for help from them after so much time has passed. I feel like, on some level, I should be able to manage without breaking down and without needing a safety net. So I don the mask of a woman who has it all together and is as strong as steel, completely oblivious to the boulder dangling from a thread just above me.

My songwriting has changed—I’m crafting song lyrics that speak more intimately to the desires of my heart, rather than attempting to disguise my true inclinations through clever word play. I’m reaching out more to people to offer them a safe place to feel what they need to feel, but not in a “don’t worry, be happy” sort of way; rather, I’m sharing my story with less pretense and less filter. I’m working toward allowing myself to be more vulnerable with the people who love me and care for me and who have already proven that they will stay by me no matter what. Simply confronting my FRONT in such an artful manner has given me an opportunity to push my own boundaries and challenge the role I’d designated for myself to play. What would happen if I actually told the truth about how I feel, what I need, what angers and hurts me, what frightens me, what fills me with unimaginable bliss? There’s only one way to find out.

So I begin with this declaration: “I am not my bravery”.