• Sue Skalicky

Brave and beautiful

There was a time when I felt safe. I was five years old and had my very own hero. He was tall and commanding and he loved me. He was my grandpa. When I was sad or mad or scared I would find him on the couch and crawl under his arm and rest my head on his chest. He seemed to always be there, waiting for me. He would raise his voice at my brother when he was being mean to me and bellowed to my grandma that he wanted a cup of coffee, but when he spoke to me it was always gentle, loving, and kind. He made me watch Lawrence Welk, helped me with homework, and taught me to fight. He was my Big Friendly Giant. I felt invincible in his presence. I knew I could conquer anything because he told me so. I believed I was brave and beautiful.

Until I believed I wasn't. My grandpa was diagnosed with emphysema and died when I was only 19. By that time, I had suffered years of confusing hate from my older brother and devastating sexual abuse as a teenager by an older man. As I watched my grandpa slowly grow weaker in body and voice, I lost sight of my value and agency. I was afraid and lost. My defender was dying. And so was I.

I started disappearing and didn't know it. I thought I was just being careful. Careful about who I let close to my heart. I thought it was part of adulthood. Being selective. But, those I selected ended up not being safe and I created a new me who could manage my relationships with them. The brave and beautiful girl who confidently crawled up on the couch and leaned into love was replaced by a scared and insecure woman who played the roles she saw being played out in society and the church: wife, employee, mother, and friend. But, I wasn't fully present in any of the roles because I was deeply afraid of being abused again.

Over the years, I've taken steps towards healing, self-love, and agency through counseling, prayer, and yoga. But, I tend to stop short of fully living out a brave and beautiful life. Until now. I'm standing and I'm ready. I am learning to trust the words my grandpa spoke to me fifty years ago. I am letting go of unhealthy relationships and getting to know and set free my authentic self. I won't lie, it is scary and daily I feel I am at war with myself. But, inch by inch, I am claiming what is rightfully mine. I am choosing to believe in myself. I am brave and beautiful. Now, I just need to walk it out. Want to come with me? Follow me on Instagram at @lifeplotline and let's do this!

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