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The Courage to Stand Up Again

By SARAH DAVIS

It wasn’t that I didn’t have anything to say. In fact, quite the opposite. I had a lot to say. It’s just that my words got stuck somewhere between my heart and my throat as the memory of the verbal attack hung thick in the air around me. As the words played on repeat between my ears like an annoying chorus to a song I wished I hadn’t heard. The words were out there and couldn’t be retracted. Launched like a ballistic missile designed to create a nuclear war and the target was my heart.

At the moment, I retreated to a safe place somewhere deep within, took a deep breath and straightened my face and my spine as I listened to the unfurling of what I knew to be untrue about myself. I am a person who writes about being vulnerable and the importance of sharing your story and the truth that once you’ve made peace with your story, it no longer matters what other people think. But in this unwelcome moment, my vulnerability was being used against me, causing me to question what I knew to be true.

So like an automatic setting, my mind began to rehearse all of the mental practices in my mind. I reminded myself of all the things I claim to believe and encourage my readers to embrace and live out. But as the days turned into weeks, my posture began to slump a little. I began to have increased trouble getting out of bed in the morning, and looking in the mirror became more of a side glance that I would steal. I stopped writing. I became reclusive. I didn’t want to talk, even to those that I love the most. I stopped allowing my words to circulate into the world that I have no control of.

The nagging fear that I couldn’t silence was that if one person felt this way about me, maybe it was the perception that others have, too. My mind somehow lost the many responses I received in the past from readers who connected with my words and the story I never wanted. Forgotten were the moments when I stood with eyes locked with another as they thanked me for being vulnerable and for giving them the courage to be honest with their own story.

“I will protect myself,” I thought. “I will sit here in silence until it feels safe to come out again, even if that means for the rest of life.”  And then the