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Bon Courage

French people mostly annoy me. It’s no secret. Except my French friends, they don’t annoy me but the rest of the population of French people do. Usually it’s the pessimism that I can’t handle. I come from the land of “anything is possible” and it is hard to adapt to my new home of “everything is impossible.” It’s also the everyday nuances of the French, mostly Parisians. I am not bashing Paris, I’m explaining Paris. Whenever I hear Parisians say, “c’est top, genial, le shopping, le jogging, le concept“, or the worst, “putain” (which I hear about 4000 times a day), I just wince. Don’t get me wrong, Americans annoy me also. It’s no secret. Except my American friends, they don’t annoy me. I am non-discriminatory in my annoyance. I am not bashing America, I’m explaining America. Whenever I hear Americans say, “God Bless America, gun rights, build a border, defund Planned Parenthood“, I just wince. Americans usually make up for their ignorance with their brilliance. One word: Instagram.

The French, however, make up for their annoying traits in a big way. A very big way.

Over the past two years, I have met all sorts of French people. Doctors, chefs, homeless people, nuns, paramedics, taxi drivers, fleamarket vendors, French Muslims, shopkeepers, restaurant owners, rich French, poor French, funny French, rude French, florist, hairdressers… You name it, I have met them. And no matter who they are or what they do, they say one thing to me. And that one thing melts my heart every time. It redeems them for everything. And there is nothing equivalent in America.

What is this thing that they say to me? It is something so gentle, so profound, so thoughtful, so wise, so historic, so encompassing that I feel like the French really have a soul like no one else.

The first time I heard it I was at Notre Dame Church. There was a nun dressed in a gray habit smiling at me as I was about to leave. I asked her if I could have a picture with her because she was so freaking adorable. After we took our picture, she placed her hands on top of my hands and said two words. These two magical words: “Bon Courage.” It basically means to wish someone well but when people say it to me it literally means, “Have Courage.” In all my life, I have never heard anything as wonderful as that. I just think it’s such a noble thing to say, “Bon Courage.” Those two words mean so much. Courage is everything for me, and without it, I will crumble.

I started to think this week about what courage really is. It’s different than being daring. Daring has a sense of adventure to it. Courage is doing something that scares you that does not necessarily have a fun side effect. I am not daring but I am courageous. I have not always been courageous by choice but by force and necessity. Do I want to be courageous? Nope. I want to hide under a rock, mostly. However, I don’t have that choice. Having ALS, this disease forces you to be courageous. Not necessarily for yourself but for the people around you. I have to be courageous for my daughter. (I don’t have to be courageous for my husband because he has enough courage for both of us.)

I asked myself yesterday what is the most courageous thing I have ever done. For me, I think the most courageous thing that I have ever done is to face the reality of ALS. From day 2 after being diagnosed with ALS, 90% of the time I just march forward. Day 1 of being diagnosed with ALS was just a fucking blur but I pulled myself together by the second day. Not to toot my own horn, but I really did. I didn’t do it for me. I did it for Grace and it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. Did I want to go to the hospital to have a pacer inserted into my diaphragm so I could breathe better? Did I want my lungs to collapse like they did that day? Did I want to be in pain for eight weeks and become nearly addicted to oxycodone? Obviously not, but I did it anyway. I put my fear behind me and courageously went into that operating room… For Grace. It’s easy to be courageous for the love of your life.
 

This is me two weeks after my surgery waiting to go into the doctor's office for a post-op check-up. I am completely jacked-up on oxycodone and yet still in excruciating pain. Didn't think that I could go on...but I did.
 
 
 This little Italian Greyhound that I named Ines was my consolation prize. She got me through those tough eight weeks.

So whenever I hear the words, “Bon Courage”, it really touches me. My usual answer is, “Merci, je l’aurai.”

So now, it’s your turn. What is the most courageous thing you’ve ever done? Did you leave a bad marriage? Did you start your own business and leave a comfortable job? Did you go to AA? Did you raise a child on your own? Did you give a speech at the United Nations? Did you go outside of your comfort zone? What have you done to be courageous? And I’m talking about the absolute most courageous thing you have ever done. Not regular courage. It’s not bragging, it’s communicating, so tell me! Pat yourself on the back and expose yourself. Bon Courage!

60 comments:

  1. by far the most courageous thing i've ever done is dealing with the ongoing battle of having a drug addicted son. it kills me each and every day but i must go on for the sake of the rest of my family. i could probably write a book on the struggle but really all i do is put one foot in front of the other each day. thank you for sharing your ongoing struggles with me. it helps beyond words. xo

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    1. Hopefully you take those comments on your blog to heart from people who you've helped through that struggle. It seems when you mention it there, there are people coming out of the woodwork to share their appreciation for your help and resources you've shared.

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    2. Bon Courage Janet. I walk in your shoes and it is a path no mother is equipped for. Wishing you serenity and sending prayers for your son.

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    3. Just beginning the battle with a daughter. One day at a time I guess, I wish I could pull the blankets over my head and stare at mindless TV for about a month. What I do know is the strength of so many out there, on here, just reading about it all from so many different people actually feels like a hug in the atmosphere. -Laura

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    4. A good friend is going through that also with her son and has been for years...I think mothers are the most courageous people on this earth...I pray that all that
      are addicted can beat it...a good book to
      read by my friend & actress Kristen , Johnston is GUTS...she beat her addiction and wrote about it in a funny, sad, horrifying way but its helped alot of people....bless you all ....

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    5. This can eat a person alive. 10 years dealing with for our family. Biggest lesson is to protect yourself and work hard not to bring down everyone around you and the addict. Life must go on. Thanks for the post. Bon Courage!

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  2. I told my husband that he had to move me from NYC back to my family and friends in Boston or else. I basically gave him 6 months to sell our home and find a new job. It doesn't sound like much but my husband is a bossy CEO type who gives everybody else orders. It took courage for me to look in the mirror and admit that my happiness mattered. Best thing I ever did.

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  3. Out of a bad marriage. No job, no real skills, no money and a useless ex husband that refused to help support our kids till the court forced him. Bill collectors and the bank would phone up and say we require money and I would reply that I choose to feed my kids rather than give you money, sorry.
    I had a legal aid lawyer that got her lawyer friend to help me, in the end he actually lent me $2000 to settle our divorce.
    thanks for asking and bon courage to you.

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  4. I was pregnant with my first and only child. During labor we learned he was too big and they were losing him. I was rushed into the operating room and not given enough pain killers for the c section. When the Dr. cut me I felt the knife , the searing and burning sensation was excruciating. Indescribable. Through the fear and pain I told my self you can do this. Don't pass out, don't die. Push pass the pain. Baby needs you.

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  5. When I was in 7th grade, there was a kid who would harass me with "fag" and all it's associations and often talked about how he was going to kill me or stab me. He was dumb as rocks so I wasn't really that worried he could figure it out; but I was scared when he was caught with a knife at school. A teacher, one of my greatest role models and confidants as a child, promised me that she would protect me and she'd burn the school down before he could get to me. I don't know how she did it but she was always there. She broke every code of conduct rule there was to watch over me like an angel. She built me up and reminded me that he was a cockroach and I was a lion. I faced him every day until I graduated and never let him win. The most corageous things I've ever done were 1) trust that teacher when she said she'd protect me 2) not accept his issue as my issue. Honorable mention: when I tried to go blond. That was a disaster and there was no fun to be had. But I courageously tried anyway. And I had six months of weird color while my natural grew back.

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    1. Stephen, whoever you are, I love you!

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    2. Thank you! I hope that means you'll forgive me for saying it's when I meant its.

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    3. oxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo!

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    4. So sorry that you had to go through that, Stephen. Sending you tons of good vibes and hugs from Canada.

      Bonnie

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    5. My son is gay and I think he went through much of what you have, Stephen. I know he only told me snippets of the verbal abuse he got daily. My world was rocked when he told me and my husband at age 15. I was so damn worried about him but slowly I told people. I think most of the universe knows it now and that is fine by me. He's such a great guy and him being gay opened up the world for me in ways I never could have imagined. Our family is better for it and if anyone goes on a homophobic rant around me.......

      God Help Them.

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    6. Is anyone else reading through these comments with tears streaming down their face at what people have to endure?

      So much courage.

      x

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    7. Yes I am...bon courage to us all!

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    8. Stephen, if we had gone to school together I totally would have kicked that kid's ass for you.
      xoxo

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  6. a beautiful post. bon courage, mon amie

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  7. Leaving a bad marriage...two weeks post partum and with a two year old. We moved back in with my parents and my brother to start over. I then had to raise the two kids with the man whom I dislike most in this world. Thank goodness I did not know how hard it would be, or I would have found a place without extradition laws. The Lord has carried me far, my friend. Sixteen years later, my oldest has attained his Eagle Scout, graduated high school, and is attending college on scholarship. My baby girl is doing what 16 year old baby girls do: AP classes, dancing (ballet, tap, jazz, pointe, and lyrical) five hours a week, choir, drama, church, and the all important socializing. I am so proud of them both, but I am also proud of me. Bought my own home by myself, went back to school, and built my own life after being told I could not do it without him.

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  8. Your courage constantly energizes me. Bon Courage Ellie. The most courageous thing I have ever done was to keep going when my sister/my best friend died of cancer. That and to continue to be "super aunt" to her then 13 year old daughter. Loving her was not the courageous part. The courageous part was that I was the "strong and happy" aunt that shared everything with her, supported her through middle school, high school, and college. I made sure there was a lot of "fun" and adventures in her life such as trips to beloved Paris and other European trips. All this required courage because during all of this I was heartbroken and all things were bittersweet for me. It is still hard but easier. Now at 27 my niece is a beautiful, happy, and amazing young woman and I see my sister every time we are together. Bon Courage. Susan NYC

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  9. Telling my mom I had been molested. I was in the second grade and was scared to tell anyone.

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  10. Giving birth to my only son without anesthesia is the most courageous thing I have ever done. I had no idea what I was doing when I made that decision. But I don't think it counts. It is nothing compared to your situation. Bon courage dear Ellie.
    xoxoxo
    Elena

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  11. Ellie, what you really have is Heart. Coeur. In all ways, big time. xob

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  12. Helping my mom through Alzheimer's after my dad died is traumatic. She's in memory care and it's super sad. I wonder all the time if putting her there was the right decision.

    I'm super amazed with you and your team, but mostly with you.

    Why do the French say whore so much?

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    1. I am dealing with the same situation. It kills me to see my once vivacious mom like this and know I can't help her. I am thankful for the support of my family am the amazing staff. Sending you hugs and wishes for peace with your decision.

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  13. Having my 2 children, was hospitalized numerous times and in and out of ER more than I want to remember. On top of that I had an internal hemorrhage that they didnt discover till it was almost too late. But I made it. Somehow though that isn't overwhelming or the courage that I had to push through... What I most marvel at and am beyond thankful is that I didn't die, I was given a chance to live twice and I get to write many memories over the bad ones, too many happy ones to count. Bonne chance rather...

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  14. I love this expression as well! For me, it was after a horse accident that disfigured my face and right eye and also left me blind in that eye. I was back at work 4 weeks after it happened. My face was not fixed yet, not by a long shot. It took me 2 and a half years to find the right doctors to put me back together again. Nothing could be done for my eye, but to remove it or keep it and cover it with a prosthesis and I chose the later. I hate having a "fake eye". Hate, hate, hate it! But what choice do I have? Eye contact was always so very important to me, now I'm embarrassed by eye contact, especially when you can see people have figured it out by the looks on their faces. The other time I had great courage was standing up for my mother and doing the right thing for her to help her get help with her Alzheimer's disease. I have a mentally ill, rage-a-holic brother who lived next door to her. When ever I would try to come and help her he would rage on me. I had help brought in, more rage. Eventually I got her out of there and into an appropriate place where she has excellent care. No one else in my family could face the truth of her disease or face the hate and rage of my brother. I felt like I was swimming with sharks and kept thinking someone was going to throw me a lifeline, but no one ever did. I had to be my own life line and I had to be a life line for mother too. Now I feel I am depleted in the courage department, but reading your posts and trying to imagine life through your eyes inspires me to fill up on more courage.

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    1. Your cup runneth over with courage!

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    2. Agree! Many of us would have cracked under your trials!

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    3. I was just about to write and see you are all the inspiration and definition of courage.
      courage is facing the fact that you are the lifeline, It will not be thrown to you. That is scary. that is courage.

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  15. marrying someone of a different race...after being told by his parents that they would disown him if he went through with it. I guess he's the one with courage, because he told them he wasn't changing his mind. We've been married 35 years, 2 kids, 2 precious grandbabies and are very happy. (yes, we still get stared out sometimes...my favorite pet peeve is when we go out to dinner and the waitress asks " will this be on one or two checks", as if we couldn't be a couple.) Love your blog, JJ

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  16. Facing the fact that my only relative (an elderly Uncle) was being robed by a group of people that he felt were his friends. Coming to grips that this even happened has been difficult and even more so because I discovered this at his death. The emotions run from, how could I have not known, to how could these individuals do such a thing, to what could I have done to prevent this. Finally, I conclude that the entire event is water over the dam and I have to move on. At the same time I have no desire to see these individuals that presented themselves at upstanding, church going individuals and pillars of the community. (When i say they stole - we are talking 6 figures plus.) The uptake here is beware of people that attach themselves to your elderly relatives. They are not always what they seem to be.
    Susan

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  17. I loved this post.

    First most courageous thing I ever did was to ask for a divorce after we had lost most of our nest egg, which meant I had no clue how I was going to manage. Then I picked up sticks and moved halfway across the country to be with a new love. That didn't work out, but we went into business together, which was a God send.

    The second most courageous thing is what I'm doing now. We closed the business after 13 years and are dealing with a possible legal issue that I can't think about if I don't want to go crazy. We have amazing prospects for a new business with a new partner, but it keeps getting delayed while the product is being tweaked. In the meantime, we have literally enough money for one or two more months. My business partner is hoping for some large fees from some commissioned recruiting work he's done, but no guarantees unless a placement is made. I'm looking for a job just to get us from here to our startup.

    So much hope and so much fear\stress.

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  18. I was diagnosed with cancer when my first baby was one month old. I believe that even very young babies can sense fear and emotions. I had to get through it for her and do my best to be relaxed and optimistic with her. That wasn't easy for me since I am s natural born pessimist (I would probably relate to the French in that way). Incidentally, the words I heard a lot then were "I'm praying for you." I have so many issues with these words (not the act of privately praying for someone, that is fine.). When people said they were praying for me it made me feel like they were emphasizing the difference between them, the healthy one, and me, the sick one. It felt almost like a boast. "Bon courage" is so much better because it seems to convey a common humanity. I wish there was an equivalent in English.

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  19. The most courageous thing I have ever done was walk out on my husband with two children, no car, no job, no place to live and the only money I have was $315.00 from my children’s birthday money. I took the dining room table and the washer and dryer. I left him the 7.5 million dollar house, the money, the investments, the artwork, the three boats and three cars. My husband had told me that if I ever left him I would be nothing without him and I would be fat, forty and end up in a low paying job and no man would ever want me. It was hard- I sold my blood three times monthly to help buy food. I slept on the floor for six months. I worked two full time jobs for seven years and when to school full time also. I have raised my two children, adopted another child when he was 13, raised him and have seen them all graduate from college, marry wonderful partners and most importantly become decent, kind human beings. I just recently received a Doctoral degree in my profession that I love and I am well respected in also. ( I also am over forty ,not fat and have a significant other 15 years younger and I am really, really well paid !!!)

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    1. Ha! You go girl. Xx

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    2. Well done you! Thats some serious kicking ass xx

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  20. The most courageous-thing I do is live each day. There are days that I don't want to face life. But I tell myself to get over it and put one foot in front of the other. I set small goals for myself and give myself words of encouragement when I accomplish them. I read once about how people with depression can train themselves to work thru low moments, with a professional of course. Somehow I managed to figure this out on my own. (Not to say I haven't had help along the way.) And I guess it's working because I'm still here! Yes, I agree those are great words. Bon Courage! You are one amazing woman!

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  21. Well, the most courageous things(s) that I have done is all of the above (except the UN Speech and AA) and then add in a dysfunctional child (who still is) and raised my three chidren toute seule and without any family at all. I did it--a bit scared still. But I wouldn't change anything--I like "me" and I love what I do--antiques/decorative arts dealer. You are my inspiration for more courage--just had a couple of health near disasters and I thought, wellllllllllll: If Ellie can do it; so can I. Bon Courage! You are in my thoughts and prayers daily. xoxo Mary

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  22. I had to think about this for a long time, which makes me wonder if I haven't been through that moment yet. People have told me many times that I was courageous to leave my career, friends, family and country behind to move overseas to be with the man I love. But come on! Pshht, I was 32, wildly in love and the destination just happened to be Paris (even if I had known what the Parisians are actually like I still would have gone)! So, no. The hardest period in my life so far was right after my Dad's death. My Mom and I had two weeks to prep the house to sell (they had been there for 25 years), sell the cars, sell the antiques, anything let alone all of the legalese of trying to put a stop to the huge debt she surprisingly found herself in. She says that she couldn't have done it without me but I love my Mom with all of my heart. So that too, no.

    I guess finally, Catherine's comment rang true with me so much that I would say both finally getting treatment for depression then anxiety (which took ten years to get to that point) and then getting on meds for both (ditto) plus staying on them. And yes, just working through it day by day.

    When my honey first translated "Bon Courage" to my Mom, he literally said, "be courageous" - so that is now a saying that we use in English too. I have heard people say it kind of jokingly in some situations (to a shop keeper at the end of a long work day) or very seriously but always, sincerely.

    Bon Courage, ma belle. Keep lighting up the world. We need you.
    With much Love and Strength,
    Heather

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  23. Most courageous thing I've done...hmmm, like so many others who have responded I've left an abusive husband, raised a son alone, etc. But here it comes - drama and all....I watched my oldest son die, and the day he passed was when I finally told him it was ok to go, that he was the best son anyone could ask for, I was proud of him, I would miss him, but it was OK for him to let go. My son had AIDS and yes he was gay. He had turned to drugs and alcohol a few years after learning he was HIV. Needless to say it was a struggle - for him, for me, for my other son, etc. But in the end, and I do mean end, I wanted him to know that he was loved, he was important, he would be missed and never forgotten. It's OK to let go...that was my courageous moment and it's difficult to even write about it 6 years later...

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    1. Bon courage to you ..... I can't imagine how hard that was for you, as a parent, having to lay your child to rest....
      Kimberly

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  24. You've set the bar pretty high in the courage department, Ellie. More often I'm the sidekick, cheering and helping from the sidelines and I do this very well. In a younger more fragile state, I made decisions based on safety; but I've always seen things from a number of perspectives - sometimes waffling and sometimes judicious. Was it courage that kept me sane as I buried handfuls of friends and family over 50 years? I think not. Perseverance whether courageous or mindless often deserves a star for all those on the sidelines. I've seen courage from Vietnam, AIDS, and a host of insidious diseases and Wars. And now walking from Syria...My life becomes miraculous in comparison. All good karma to you and yours.

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  25. Being a parent takes a tremendous amount of courage. For me, losing my 3-week-old first born was the greatest suffering. Summoning the courage to have my subsequent 3 children and to give them a good life is a daily act.
    Having to tell family and friends our son died was excruciating. Calling the doctor to get medication because the sudden stop to breastfeeding caused an infection. I am a poet, and this loss inspired an award-winning haiku (I'd rather have the child than the award):

    graveside
    my breasts
    leaking

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  26. Caring for and protecting my late husband’s health, comfort and dignity through early onset dementia. Challenging the medical community along way, from an original misdiagnosis of OCD (courtesy of a respected Johns Hopkins physician, no less!) to doing an investigation of an assisted living facility’s failure to administer his medications properly, or at all. Every night I would sneak into the nurses’ office, copy his files and when I had enough information, I contacted the state office of health care quality. They had previous complaints about this facility, but no proof, so they asked me to continue. I did, but was eventually found out. We got kicked out as a result, but the facility was in hot water, officially cited for numerous violations and changes were made that hopefully improved care for others.
    Ellie, I so admire your courage in the face of such a daunting diagnosis, and even more so your willingness to trust your instincts in facing your challenges. Bon courage.

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  27. Ellie, it was when I left an abusive marriage when my children were young teenagers.
    The worst time probably and we all paid a huge price, It took a lot of help to get up the confidence and yes courage to do that.
    Then years later when I forgave him it lifted my heart from a great burdon...though I still carry some guilt with the children.
    It is so little compared to what you have been going through.

    xoxo
    Karena
    The Arts by Karena
    www.indiahicks.com/rep/karenalbert

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  28. I lost everything in the flooding after Hurricane Katrina. I had just gotten married too, and found out not long after that my new husband had been cheating on me. Without a doubt, I thought I didn't want to go on with my life and didn't have any reason to. The task of rebuilding my house, job, life, marriage was just too daunting. But I did it - in my early 20's - and just took it step by step. It's been 10 years and when I look back I still can't believe I got through it. We are all stronger than we think we are.

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  29. OK! I think you already know. I survived the suicide of the man I love. (forgive the present but its exactly so, I still love him very much) Before that I survived the closing of my beloved little theatre. Now I am giving voluntary lessons to little Syrians (they help me a lot) and I work for pennies in another theatre ( I am doing the lighting) but I still think life is worth it. Every time I see the blue sky I think life is wonderful. Thank you Ellie!

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  30. Living through Hyperemesis gravidarum twice and surviving nearly constant vomiting for 6 months of each of my pregnancies. It's not a very well known complication of pregnancy, but one of the most painful. It's a bit like suffering a bad bout of food poisoning every day for six months or longer in some cases. The "courage" part of the equation came with baby number two. Knowing how bad it had been before, I did not think I would make it through another pregnancy. But I did, and my two girls (now 27 and 30) are the joy of my life. I was not courageous enough to for a third attempt. On another note many thanks to Ellie and all who have shared their experiences. Bon Courage and love to all.

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  31. Nothing can compare with your courage Ellie, but since you asked. I doubt that anyone else out there will care but again, you asked so I will touch on it "lightly."
    A long time ago after being very ill, accepting & dealing with the fact that I had to have 2 surgeries where I had my skull drilled into & removing part of my mastoid bones. I'm just fine now. Deciding to leave & then divorce my ex of 30 years & making a career & a life of my own, on my own, smart choice for me.

    Having the courage to search, find, confront, being accepted but then rejected again by my father who left my mother before I was born. Accepting my mother's heart condition for 24 years & that she could die at any moment. She passed away 5 months ago, enough for now. I'm delicate, sensitive, kind & caring to a fault but I'm tough as shit because I have had to be. I guess you could say that's a whole bunch of courage but this is merely a tip of the iceberg. I know nothing but.

    Bon Courage Ellie!

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  32. my 11-year-old son was killed in an accident one indian summer afternoon 26 years ago. the hardest thing i've ever had to do was to tell his 5 other siblings that their brother was dead. the same hardest thing i've ever had to do was to pull my family together after his death because we were all so brokenhearted and devastated and i wanted us to be united rather than an ocean of 7 little islands. it took courage to sometimes make it through days when my children were in school and there was just so much space around me. it took courage to tell my husband that i had miss-you's so bad for my son that i wanted to die...even though he was in a space where he wasn't as affected. i learned that courage doesn't find you...you find it. It took courage to be an example of what i believed and to go on regardless of heartache and extreme grief because other people were looking at you trying to figure out how you did it. how you let life go on when it seemed to have stopped on a warm autumn day. it has taken courage every day to live life without that beautiful boy in it, without his life, what would be his family, his children/my grandchildren. bon courage, my friend. i do not think that there is a person alive who doesn't need bon courage from time to time. i love you.... jenni

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    1. I like that..."courage doesn't find you, you find it".

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  33. Ellie this is a healing space. It is really quite remarkable. We bear witness to each others pain and path. We are more compassionate, loving human beings and I believe, recognize that we are more similar than not. You are a gift. xob...ps. is it ok to comment more than once on the same post?!...the apologetic Canadian in me:)

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  34. I guess my courageous story would have to be being strong for everyone after my thyroid cancer diagnosis. ..boy that surgery was hell but I tried not to let on...thank god fir my family and friends though..they never let me down...6 months & still recouping but all good now....E you are my hero! Bon courage! xoxo

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  35. One of the best threads I have ever read - my compliments to you Ellie for bringing together this disparate group of individuals into this safe space. Although I have had a double mastectomy - I just did what I had to do going through my treatment. Also, I knew there was a chance of a cure. So far, so good. I so admire so many on this thread who have stepped into the unknown. That, to me is the definition of "bon courage." Barbara

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  36. The most courageous thing I have ever done was to go into therapy and change my circumstances. If there was an Olympics for abusive parents mine would have been gold medal winners as my therapist likes to say. I have a lovely life with my children and loving husband thanks to having the courage, desire and will to change my life from an awful childhood to a beautiful adulthood. I like to think of myself as the Marilyn Munster of my family; the odd one out in the best way possible way! Bon Courage, beautiful Ellie!

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  37. I think I am living my story now....
    I packed my bags just under two weeks ago and left the neighborhood I have spent half of my life in to take a job transfer to Nashville. My husband and daughter stayed behind with the house until it sells while I work and try to find us a home here. Leaving them was the hardest thing I have ever done and yet after reading all of these stories from others I feel almost cowardly writing this as it pales in comparison to so many of these other courageous moments. It really puts life into perspective. Thank you Ellie for curating such a beautiful forum!

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  38. After just a little over a year, living a long awaited dream of living in the country of Panama. I had to face moving back alone to the States when my dear husband of 30 years died suddenly postpartum in surgery of a heart attack. This meant communicating almost daily with others that did not speak English dealing with an expat, not skilled in the foreign language of Spanish. It will be 2 years in December, I have managed to carve out a semblance of peace as I walk this road without my most beloved.

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  39. MY COURAGEOUS MOMENT CAME 45YEARS AGO WHEN I WROTE AND GAVE A PRESENTATION TO THE BD. OF EDUCATION IN OUR CITY. I ASKED THEM TO HIRE A SPECIAL ED TEACHER FOR MY 6 YR. OLD SON'S SCHOOL. HE HAS DYSLEXIA AND BACK THEN IT WAS BARELY KNOWN. I WAS ABSOLUTELY TERRIFIED AS A YOUNG MOM SPEAKING TO THIS DISTINGUISHED GROUP. BUT IT WORKED AND AUTHORIZATION WAS GIVEN THAT EVENING. I HAD DONE A LOT OF RESEARCH AND WHEN I LEARNED OVER 60% OF THE JAILS WERE FILLED WITH PEOPLE WHO HAD LEARNING DISABILITIES, IT GAVE ME THE COURAGE I NEEDED. THE BON COURAGE HAS HELPED ME MANY TIMES SINCE. WHAT A GREAT COLUMN ELLIE AND THANKS TO YOUR READERS WHO SHARED THEIR JOURNEYS. TOGETHER, THE BURDEN IS NOT SO HEAVY. XXX

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