People kept saying “oh you are so strong” but I felt anything but. I was broken, tired, angry and in pieces screaming out in pain. I felt like my world had fallen apart, was struggling to get out of bed and wasn’t sure how it was possible to ever see any light again. Every time I heard it I felt an extra pressure to keep up the facade in public that I felt so many expected or wanted. I hated the word because I thought if I wasn’t strong then it meant I was weak.
But something happened, someone said to me that I was brave and strong and instead of saying ‘thank you’ I told her how I was really feeling and that I was hanging on by a thread. I told her I wasn’t strong at all. She told me all of that is ok. And none of that means I was less brave or strong. She said that DESPITE it all I am still here. Still breathing. My broken heart still beating. It’s that ‘DESPITE it all’ that meant I was strong.
I told myself I needed to re-evaluate the idea of strength. I told myself that strength doesn’t always mean kicking goals and standing up tall.
I started to tell myself-
You are not weak when you are down and broken,
You are not weak when you can’t stop crying,
You are not weak in the dark moments, days, weeks or more where it seems there is no hope or light
You are not weak when you crumble and fall apart
You are not weak when you question everything from yourself to life, asking why did this happen? Why did it happen to us?
You are not weak when you are angry and bitter, confused and tired
You are not weak when you don’t know how you are going to keep going
You are not weak when you can’t smile
You are not weak when you feel like you just can’t keep it together
I started to tell myself-
No I am NOT weak… I am just hurting. Hurting very badly.
My struggles are not a sign of my weakness, they are a sign of my love and it’s power.
To parents of angels, I will never tell you that you have to BE strong, because you don’t need to be anything at all. I know you already have that pressure on yourself and I know it’s not that simple or easy.
But I will tell you in your toughest days when you feel the least amount of strength know that you ARE brave and strong without even feeling or knowing it because DESPITE it all, all that you face and all that you feel you continue to keep breathing and keep going. Sometimes it feels like you are only just surviving but surviving THIS takes a lot of strength. And sometimes just surviving it is enough.
Many will never know the strength that is required to just get out of bed some days.
Or the strength to leave the house.
Or the strength to smile and say “I’m ok”
Or the strength to take off your mask and say “I’m not good”
(Or that its completely normal for it to be like this…)
And sometimes it takes more strength to do things, even simple things, than you have. And that’s ok.
In those times rest your heart, mind and soul and say “I am strong but I need a rest”. Be gentle on yourself, do what you need to do and say “I am strong but I just can’t deal with x, y or z today and that’s ok”
There’s a quote someone shared just recently with me that rings so true-“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, I will try again tomorrow”
There is nothing heavier than empty arms. And you carry that weight every second of the day. Think about how strong you must be to hold the weight of love that never gets put down.