Now before you assume I’ve used some sort of trickery with my headline to get you to read this post, let me assure you that I did once call my wedding off 6 weeks before the date. For real. As an engaged grown up. To a real man. Yes, it is all THAT.
By far and away the most common comment I get from people when they hear this story is
“Oh you were very brave to do that”.
My reply is always the same.
Actually, I don’t think so. Brave is turning up on your wedding day and actually getting married to the person that you know is the wrong guy.
Now before you go and assume that maybe I just had pre-wedding jitters let me assure you that I have never, EVER, regretted this decision. He was a nice guy but never the love of my life, not even a great love. He was just the guy who happened to propose to me (when he was drunk mind you) when I was young and vulnerable and caught up in the idea of marriage. I don’t want to go into all the gory details out of respect to him and the person who I am told he has now become. He had a drinking problem when he was with me but I believe he is now sober and a happy husband and father so I don’t want to disrespect him and the changes he has made in his life.
But I want to go back to this concept of bravery.
What does it mean to be brave? Was I brave to do what I did or is the Rachael in the parallel universe that kept her word and married the man the brave one?
I have spent some time online looking at quotes and definitions of bravery and I have come to the conclusion that we are both brave and we are both cowards.
I was brave for pulling the pin but I could also be seen to be a coward for not going through with it. This quote here seems appropriate.
She was brave for going through with it and also a coward for not staying true to her heart. Perhaps she should have done this?
Could I have had a happy life if I’d chosen the other road? If things had stayed the same probably not but if Mr Fiancé had had his revelation during our relationship then perhaps things would have turned out OK. Who can really know?
And 17 years on, it doesn’t matter.
What matters is understanding that bravery and cowardice can be two sides of the same coin. They are intertwined. One carries the other along with it packed into the same little backpack and as they fight it out in there it is up to you to know which move is truly the brave one and this will depend on your own personal set of circumstances.
Yes, we must conquer our fears, feel the fear and do it anyway if you will, but not at our own personal risk. The risk can be too great and it is not cowardly of us to identify it and act accordingly. Sometimes it is actually brave for us to make the choice to stand down and walk away.
Besides, sometimes there is a silver lining. Mine was the honeymoon. I went alone to Mexico and had THE. TIME. OF. MY. LIFE. Holiday romance…ahem..YES I DID.
I was afraid to go and almost didn’t (hello cowardice) as I’d only ever been overseas once before and never on my own. I called my Aunt (the travel agent) at the last minute to cancel and she talked me into it (yay bravery, you won!). To this day I still owe her a thousand and one kisses for that. The trip was the one that set my belly on fire for travel and I traveled solo extensively after it. That one experience alone truly changed and shaped my life. I’m not sure I would have been the traveler I was without it.
So see, there is a purpose, to everything.