Today’s post is written by our Brave Artist Toni Imsen.
Many years ago, I was at Walmart picking up some baby formula and diapers in the middle of the night. Young mothers know how it is, you weren’t expecting to run out and now you have to go to Walmart because it’s late and it is still open.
Another thing I did not expect that day was to witness something that seemed a little disturbing between a man and a woman. It wasn’t overtly violent, but there was a gesture and a look between them.
The way he talked to her, the way he invaded her personal space and wouldn’t let her out of his sight. He touched her arm at one point and it didn’t feel friendly. The way she looked at him was either a blank stare or an annoyed glare.
As I journeyed around the store locating my items, I ended up seeing them several times. Something didn’t feel good. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but inwardly I knew whatever it was, was dead wrong. Even though something was amiss, there was no obvious sign of terror to report. It was just an instinct, an impression.
But as usual, I was on a mission to get what I needed for the baby and get home. I tried to put it out of my head and focus on my mission. A fleeting thought went through my head that someone should do something, but what?
Of course, that person wasn’t me because I had no solution.
What can I do?
It wasn’t my job. It wasn’t my business.
Or was it?
If it wasn’t my responsibility, whose responsibility is it?
What did I do? Nothing. I was all about me. My agenda, my schedule and my life. I moved on my little merry way.
A few weeks later I spotted that couple again at another store. Just a brief glimpse down an aisle. I remembered them and I thought it was odd to run into them again in a completely different city. Not only did I remember them but the experience didn’t leave me. That feeling came again, darkness, oppression, terror and a pit in my stomach.
I know now, as I knew then, there are no coincidences. When I run into someone like that repeatedly there is usually a reason and a purpose.
At that that time in my life I was doing my own healing over having lived in a domestic violence situation growing up. I didn’t want to deal with it. I wanted to ignore it.
I am sure by now you may realize it, this story isn’t over.
A few more weeks go by. I was driving to my mom’s house for a visit. I had my infant daughter with me in her car seat. It was dark on our way there, the sun had just gone down. While I was driving, something hit my wind shield, it sounded like a million little pieces of gravel flying at me.
That is when I realized it was glass. It was glass from the truck directly ahead of me. When I looked forward, I saw a single cab, small truck and I could see through the back window as my headlights shown right into the window.
I could see them. It was a man punching a woman in the side of her head. When her head hit the passenger side window, glass continued breaking and flying back toward the cars behind it.
Horrifying violence was happening right in front of me, and my infant daughter.
You may be shocked to read this, as much as I was when I realized it. The man and the woman driving in front of me engaging in such terrifying violence were the same couple from Walmart!
Yes, it was them. That same man and woman!
You only imagine how Un-Brave I felt that day. Especially when I STILL DID NOTHING. The next turn signal was where I turned up a street and never saw them again.
All the “what if” scenarios went through my mind.
“What if I would have _______?”
“Maybe I could have _______.”
“I should have _______.”
How many of you know, I have many stories like these? Ones when I ignored my instinct, stories where I did nothing because I was protecting myself and I was just plain scared.
Did I learn from this one dramatic story? I wish I could say I did, but I didn’t.
There it is. The Un-Brave part of me who shows up under pressure. The one who operates from cowardice, fear and rejection.
I can choose something different. I can choose to be Brave. I can choose to act when my fear factor is running high, rather than choose to check out.
What if being Brave meant living without the woulda, coulda and the shoulda’s of life?
What if being Brave meant being active in protecting someone other than myself?
What if being Brave meant doing something, saying something, anything?
I choose to be Brave despite my past, present and yes, future mistakes.
Today is all I have. I will be Brave today.
Toni is an artist, an author and an activist who spends her time creating works of art to bring love and light to the world. She writes with a purpose to encourage and empower humanity. Toni married her wonderful husband in 1990, is the mother of 3 beautiful human beings, and the grandmother of 1. Toni is an ordained minister, a business leader, and a former homemaker. You may visit her website at Toniimsen.com.
Photo credit: http://al3loom.com/wp-content/uploads/scared_child.jpg
Graphic art and design: Toni Imsen