Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Brave? Me?

Last week I was shocked by a comment someone said to me.  They called me brave.  Me.  Seriously?  Here is what happened.

My fiance and I are on a dart team.  Once a week we go to one of the bars and play against another team.  This week it was at the bar that sponsors our team.  My service dog was with me like usual.  Everyone loves her.  And she loves the attention she gets from everyone when the night is over and her vest gets taken off outside and she is given permission to visit everyone.  She is with me to alert to the episodes I have because of my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  So far this year we have been lucky and no episodes have happened while playing darts.  So most people though curious have no real idea what she is for. 

Well this night was to be different.  I was playing the final doubles game with my partner when she started to alert to me.  Sometimes she can give a long alert, meaning I have some time 10- 15 minutes sometimes before anything happens.  The game was almost over and I didn't want to have to forfeit.  I hoped it was a long alert.  She kept getting more and more insistent.  Then it hit.  Down I went.  It lasted only a few minutes but it always leaves me beyond shaken.  When I finally felt a little better I sat on the bench.  My fiance told our team captain I couldn't play anymore.  When he came over to say it was OK I started crying and apologized.  He told me there was nothing to apologize for.  I felt so embarrassed.  Our team had to forfeit that game and the team game.  I felt like I let down my whole team. 

I leaned down and put my head against my Service Dog's head and concentrated on her breathing to try and stop my shaking.  When I finally wasn't shaking I moved back over to our teams table and that is when I got the shock of my life.  Most everyone on my team told me all was OK and to not worry and they hoped I was OK.  Even one of our new team members gave me a hug.  The other team was saying the same thing.  Then a gentleman came up to me and said he wanted to tell me something.  He said he wanted me to know how brave he thought I was.  Me.  Brave?  I was shaking.  Terrified of what everyone was thinking about me.  Wanting to crawl into a hole.  And this guy was telling me I was brave.  He went on to say that instead of letting my disability control my life and stop me from living it, I was instead getting out and living life.  He said he thought that was very brave and he admired me for that.  WOW.

I have spent so much of my life hiding in my home.  Terrified of what could happen.  Having my service dog has helped change some of that but I still spend so much of my time hiding in my home.  Not wanting to make anyone uncomfortable, not wanting to be judged, not wanting to embarrass myself or be a burden to anyone.  And yet a small part of me has to admit he was right.  Before my Service Dog I never would have done the things I can do now.  Instead of being judge harshly like I am always afraid of this person let me know that not everyone will see me in a bad light. 

I hope he knows what his kind words did.  At the time I was too embarrassed to say much more then thank you.  Once I calmed down and thought about it I really felt much better knowing that I was accepted instead of rejected.  Sounds like such a small thing.  Just a few words from a stranger.  But those few words sure had a huge effect on me.

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