“Bran thought about it. ‘Can a man still be brave if he is afraid?’ ‘That is the only time a man can be brave,’ his father told him.”
-George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones.
I was having a great weekend when Saturday I looked down at my phone and saw that my mother had called. I called her back to have her tell me that my sister was in a biking accident though my mother didn’t have a lot of details. I immediately went to the worst case scenario of my sister dying. That’s the truth. I then found myself awash in panic. I tried to call my sister but got her voice mail. I sent my brother- in -law a text but received no response. She lives in California and suddenly that felt further away than it ever has. That is fear. It’s an emotion that is both intolerable and paralyzing all at the same time.
When I think about situations that have caused that level of panic, it is always when I am truly faced with the unknown in which I am completely powerless. I find myself standing on that brink of my worst nightmares coming true and yet nothing in reality is actually happening.
Bravery often carries the connotation of great battles and heroic conquests. When I think of bravery, I think of facing my greatest enemy, my own mind and my own demons. I was confronted again with that this weekend. I was confronted with a possibility of something happening that my mind decided would be intolerable. I wanted to do something and yet there was not an action in that moment that made any sense. I did not have enough information and I was forced to have to find a way to cope.
My bravery came in tapping into the tools I’ve learned and settling myself down. Although still concerned, once the panic subsided I was able to think rationally. I knew that if my sister was in a life threatening situation I would be told. I had made the phone calls and left the message that I could come to California if she needed me. I knew my worrying was not going to better the situation. My bravery was demonstrated in the moment that I was able to sit still.
My sister is very banged up but will heal and be well with no lasting concerns. I, however, will likely need to be brave again in the face of my fears.