I Don't Have a Choice about Being Brave


By Shelley Gruendler

Now I understand why people going through major medical treatments get annoyed when the public label them as ‘brave’. Every day, another person tells me that I’m brave.

But I don’t have a choice about being brave.

It was five weeks ago today that my partner of 13 years looked me in the eye and said that he did not love me anymore and wanted me to move out.

The days that followed found me wavering between uncontrollable sobbing and disbelief. Complete and utter disbelief. The end of everything seemed inconceivable. For thirteen years, our home together and our relationship were the only solid things in my life. I believed and invested in them both wholeheartedly.

I gave him chances to change his mind. I asked him repeatedly if it was a ‘break’ or a ‘break-up’? He meekly whispered ‘break-up’ every time.

Nobody in our small community could believe it. They asked me what he was thinking and in their next breath would assure me that surely he would come to his senses in a few months, for he couldn’t mean it.

But everybody was wrong. My hope in what they were saying, coupled with my incredulity at the situation, only delayed the inevitable end of this chapter of my life.

Now that those weeks of disbelief have passed, those same people are complimenting me and telling me that I’m brave.

But I’m not brave; I’m just ready to move forward. I am eager to rebuild my life, to create a new home, to find a new direction, to love a new someone.

However, just because I am doing well, does not negate what he did to me; it just means that I’m a survivor. I’m a survivor because the alternative is unacceptable and I won’t let him destroy me.

So please don’t see me as brave, because I don’t have a choice. See me as a survivor, because that's my choice.

writer photo

Shelley Gruendler

Shelley Gruendler, founder of www.typecamp.org, is a typographer, designer, and educator who teaches, lectures, and publishes internationally on typography and design.