Hanging just above my bed, in a little emerald green bag, are 6 tiny beads. These beads are the first of my collection of bravery beads, 6 beads that represent the tests I had done on that Wednesday and all of the other procedures I've had that haven't been rewarded with a little colored bead.
I used to wonder about these beads. My friend and I were talking a while back and she commented on how she'd seen illnesses become like the Hunger Games, each person trying to out-do the other in terms of how sick they were. There's a ranking, and whether they want to admit it or not at some point almost everyone I know has compared themselves to that person over there or the one right there, figuring out where they fall in the ranking. I wondered if maybe looking at another's string of beads would be like this, another tool used to try and rank yourself and your illness.
This was until I got 6 little beads of my own. At first it was no big deal. I was excited to (finally) have some bravery beads to call my own. And then time passed and every so often I would look up at that little green bag holding my beads and smile.
The secret wasn't in the beads. It wasn't in how many beads I had compared to how many beads I've seen others have.
It was about acknowledging my own bravery.
It was about looking at those beads and knowing I earned every one of them. And it was about looking up at them when I didn't feel strong or brave and hearing the silent words "But you are."
The beads became a reminder for me that even when I don't feel brave, I am.
And I got to thinking. I think that there should be a bead for everything.
I got out of bed this morning, that was brave of me.
I stood up and dusted myself off after falling flat on my face and experiencing failure, that was pretty brave.
I made the choice to be open and honest. I remembered to take my meds. I chose to listen to my body and stay home instead of pushing it. All of those things are incredibly brave.
So why is it that so often instead of looking at those brave tasks and acknowledging them we focus on the negative? The pain endured, the task 'failed', the feeling that, even though it wasn't acted upon, was still there, the negative comment someone said or that was perceived.
I think maybe we all need some beads. To remind us of the good things, the positive things, the incredibly brave things we do.
I don't feel brave. Some days I'm struggling just to hold on. Sometimes it's not about earning a bead or a purple heart, it's just about going where you're needed and doing what needs to be done.
Looking up at my tiny green bag of beads, I smile, knowing that even when I don't feel very brave these beads prove me wrong. They remind me who I am when I forget it.
I am loved.
I am enough.
I am brave.