Be strong, they say to you. Being strong is a badge of honor. It's a show of strength, and unwavering power.
Be strong in the face of despair. Be strong in the face of adversity. Be strong at all times and that strength will carry you. It will propel you to greatness.
But, being strong also means we need to fight. We need to fight physical or mental demons.
It's a figure of speech we tell people when someone is going through a hard time. "Be strong," we tell them.
Think about one of the most vulnerable of times in your life, yet you stayed strong. This urge to be strong fought against your every human notion to allow yourself to feel emotion, and pain, and denial and all the rising feelings that accompany an adverse time.
What generally happens then, is that we are so strong in the face of adversity, we forget to turn it off.
Everyone marvels at your strength. Everyone comments on how strong you are and that somehow elicits the feeling that we must continue to be strong. We will be strong for everyone around us. We will be strong so we can spare everyone else having to deal with our pain.
How will we make others feel if, in times of our own extreme pain we crumble into despair? How will we make others feel if all of a sudden we are the ones who need to be taken care of? Is it so wrong to NOT be strong? We can't own our pain.
Untapped emotions are the worst because they have not been dealt with. Instead, we tuck them away in a neat little box, just below the surface and we put on the brave face. The face that makes everyone turn around and comment on how "strong" we are.
And when we begin to feel those emotions, we allow them to bubble up only to surface level. Maybe a little bit of emotion begins to push the top of that box off. Maybe we begin to cry a little bit. But what happens most of the time then? We cry for a very brief spell, and then we push the emotions back down in the box and we decide we don't want to feel them.
Then they bubble up again - maybe a bit stronger next time, perhaps at inopportune times, and yet again, we push them down.
This is a vicious cycle that eventually leads to us bottling all of our emotion, no matter what and putting on a strong, brave face.
But, really, who do you have to answer to and why is it weak to cry or to feel? Why are tears viewed as a fault? I think it's strong and incredibly beautiful to cry. Tears are nature's window to the soul. They are our natural outlet to deal with emotion and pain and they allow the pain to be cleansed from the body instead of being stored inside as untapped negative energy.
Eventually, like a volcano, that negative energy will explode. It may not be in the form of tears, but it could surface as anger or anxiety or stress or control issues.
So many of us are emotional eaters. Where is that emotion coming from? What pain lies under the surface that needs to be nourished with food?
Where do you hold pain in your body. Does your neck hurt, or your head or maybe even your heart. What of emotions were allowed to escape and with it those physical pains that they have manifested into?
If we were meant not to feel, we would not have been given a heart to do good with. We would not have been given a heart to bleed with pain and empathy and love. And we would not have been given the ability to love as we do, because most often with love comes pain.
I write this blog 2 days before what would have been my father's 62nd birthday. The pain of grief and loss of a loved one is like no other,. It shatters us and can bring us to our knees. The only way to actually even begin to recover from it is to feel. You have to feel your way out of the pain. You have to feel the sadness and the guilt and the lose and the love and everything that whirlwinds into your mind - right after and many years after.
Next time you see someone who is hurting, encourage them to cry. Give them an outlet to express what they're naturally feeling. You can only stifle the emotion for so long.
There is strength in pain. There is strength is rebuilding. There is beauty in tears and there is power in love. Love someone enough to let them feel. Love YOURSELF enough to feel. There really is no way to escape and no life to live if you continue to be haunted by emotion.
Set it free. Cry, long and ugly. Yell, curse, scream, punch, let it out. That's strength. Know what you need to do to get past where you're at. By bottling the emotion left inside, you're holding the past hostage and never letting the future in to take charge.
So don't pretend to be strong. Just be you. You're strong as you are.
This blog is dedicated to the women in my life who have loved and lost. I know women who have lost husbands, siblings, babies, children, mothers and fathers. I also know women who mourn the loss of their identity because she has not let herself handle the grief of the past to step into the now.
You aren't the same person you were 4 years ago and you won't be the same person tomorrow. Step into that new woman, every day. Ride the highs and the lows. Let them take you and shape you and become you and then, when you look in the mirror, you will know that you are truly strong.