I have an awkward relationship with the concept of strong. What the hell is “strong” anyway?
Growing up, I heard the words “be strong” a lot:
- “Be strong,” and get through this.
- “Be strong” for your mother.
- “Be strong,” because the only other option is to be weak. And weakness—well that might as well be a sin.
And maybe this is something I have internalized. This sense of false stoicism, where emotions are suspect.
Maybe this is something I internalized, that tears are somehow weakness.
And somehow, I still shed many of them.
It has taken several tries at therapy (and please know, I feel zero shame for talking about this), but several tries, and I finally realized that the true measure of strength is simply existing.
The true measure of strength is living your life with your eyes wide open and somehow still breathing. And sometimes, even choosing not to. Because life, in all its forms, is incredibly hard.
The true measure of strength, to me, is throwing off this yoke of being told when and how and what qualifies as being strong.
The true measure of strength is choosing to live in whatever way feels most right to you.
So sure, tell me to be strong.
But the thing is, My strength lies in the things you cannot even see.
My child died and I am thoroughly uninterested in being “strong” about it.