I remember being told I was courageous but I didn’t feel courageous at all. I felt afraid, humiliated, ashamed and dissociated. It wasn’t until much later that I could believe this of myself.

When I walked across the parking lot in a nicely wooded area, I felt as if I was walking across a suspension bridge over a deep ravine into a dense jungle. My fear was palpable. I felt as if it wasn’t happening to me. How was it possible that I was walking into a treatment center for alcoholism?

Someone told me that I walked in, registered, watched in shame as my suitcases were searched, did an alcohol breath test and additional intake procedures because I was courageous. Really?

Really! Facing myself, my perfectionism, my all encompassing sense of shame, my co-dependent nature and need to control others took courage. It took even more courage to learn how to cope with life on life’s terms, to accept myself, to forgive myself and to move into a life of authenticity and value.

At three years sober, I felt solid in my physical sobriety and was overjoyed with my newly found spiritual connection but I was still feeling emotionally unsettled. I had to summon up more courage when I chose to do additional self-investigation and more work rather than choosing complacency – settling for being physically sober rather than fully thriving in sobriety.

My work led to the realization that I wasn’t living in alignment with some very important core values and that I was creating my own internal turmoil as a result. I was continuing to remain stuck in my personal status quo because moving out of it and growing meant that I would be entering into unknown territory and I was comfortable in the known even if it was mediocre. I had to choose again – stay at my unsatisfying plateau or grow. I chose growth, finally understanding that I was exhibiting courage in the face of fear.

If this resonates with you, I invite you to challenge yourself with a short Values-Based Living Self-Assessment that I’ve developed. Look at yourself honestly and with self-compassion and be open to where it may lead.


“Courage is about doing what you’re afraid to do. There can be no courage unless you’re scared. Have the courage to act instead of react.” 

~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

3 thoughts on “Courageousness

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