NaBloPoMo’s topic for today is: What is the bravest thing you've ever done?
Today’s question stumped me, because in my definition of being brave, would mean at some point I had to take a risk, face something that could possibly harm or injure me without showing fear of the situation. And according to my definition of bravery—I haven’t done much in the bravery department. Brave defined as a verb in the online dictionary means: to endure or face (unpleasant conditions or behavior) without showing fear. And my definition wasn’t too far off.
In many instances, the brave acts in my life—are usually just me choosing to do the right thing or what I think is the right thing to do. There isn’t really anything brave about what I’ve done. Others have told me differently. I’ll let you decide.
When I was in high school, I took a suicide note I received from a friend to a school counselor because I was worried for my friend. I had no idea if she was serious or just crying for help—but I knew I wasn’t qualified to make that determination. I didn’t want to get her in trouble—I wanted that counselor to promise me they would just talk her down off the cliff. He wouldn’t promise anything, but assured me it took “guts” to bring that note to him. He said I had definitely done the right thing. And still, it cost me a friendship. Was that brave of me or was I just doing the right thing?
In another instance—I made the choice to end a relationship with someone whom I thought I would ride into the sunset with. There was one instance of him getting aggressive with me and from that point forward, even though I took him back and we came close to marriage, I could never completely trust him. To his credit, he never lifted another finger or said another mean word to me. Hindsight—I know in my heart of hearts he was really very sorry and tried over and over again to go out of his way to show me that it would never happen again. And yet, he had crossed a line. I remember several friends saying I was brave for ending it. Was that really brave of me or was I just doing the right thing?
A few years ago—I took care of an individual with a traumatic brain injury. He also had anterograde amnesia. He had no memory recall since the accident happened, although he could remember some things from before the accident, he didn’t have the capacity to retain memories since the accident. He reset about every 20 seconds, which means I could say, “Hi! My name is Jenn.” and 20 seconds later he couldn’t recall what I told him. Unfortunately—taking care of him scared the living hell out of me, because he was highly unpredictable.
He had three modes of emotions: really happy, easy going, extremely angry. Whenever he was really happy or extremely angry—you knew a grand mal seizure could happen any minute, leaving you completely on edge, because you had to quickly get him to the ground and protect his head, all while acting like everything is normal. And even when he was in his easy going mood, the seizures could happen without warning. Compound that with he couldn’t remember anything; he couldn’t tell you he felt weird, which is a sign he may be getting ready to have a seizure. He could never be responsible for his actions—he mentally was incapable since his brain injury.
He was also very unpredictable, he could go from being really happy to really angry in an instant—like having Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde in the same room, at the same time—and within the same person. One time he went to say thank you to me and give me a hug and as soon as he got close enough to hug me, he cocked back his fist as if he was going to punch me in the head. He wouldn’t remember it a few moments later when I gently had him put his hand down—but it was that sort of thing that kept me on the edge of my seat. It tested my limits of what I thought I could handle as a human.
I swore, he needed medical supervision 24/7 not just a one-on-one aid…but that was my personal opinion. Each seizure he had—was traumatic—and he would often turn blue, and I had to be right there to help him down to the floor—protecting his head. All the while my fingers dialed 9-1-1 on the cell and they hovered over the send button. Thankfully, he always recovered. There were times thought I was awfully close to calling the paramedics.
I wanted to quit the first two weeks I started that job—but knew it wasn’t fair to him or his family to just bail. I stuck it out for nine months and I was constantly stressed out and fearful the entire time. I never let him or his family know just how scared I was of his erratic behaviors or the severity of his seizures. I put on a “brave” face and gave him the best possible care because I knew that even though he wouldn’t remember it—he still deserved it. Was that bravery or was that just doing the right thing?
In all three instances—I don’t see bravery being the main component. In each situation—I had done what I thought was the right thing. I have no regrets and I learned a lot of lessons.
What is the bravest thing you have ever done?