Trying To Understand Why I Struggle When Others Tell Me I Am Strong

Hands

If someone has a fear of public speaking and then finds the courage to do so, that is strength

If you lose your leg and wearing a prosthesis, run a marathon, that is strength and grit

If you have a fear of flying and overcome that fear and travel anyway, that is courage and strength

If you suffer trauma that has never been validated, NEVER, and you are forced to appear outwardly okay in order to feel accepted; and if you ever did let your emotions show you got hurt further and abused more…

And when this happened so much that the facade became automatic and all the while you are dying inside, living an emotionally tortured life…

This is NOT strength, this is survival!

We would never say to someone who just lost their child or their spouse, “You look great, I am glad to see you are doing so well!”

If all that they heard was, “You are so strong”… it would be dismissive of their obvious suffering; how could they not be suffering, they are grieving an unimaginable loss!

It would shut them up and guarantee they don’t share their pain with us; it would feel more like an expectation than compassion

If someone works hard to overcome, to accomplish something that felt impossible, that is strength

If someone is forced to do something against their will or to appear okay when they are not, and it feels as forced as if at gun point and their life depended upon it, that is not strength, it is survival

To be told you are strong… when that is all that you hear… and all the while you are dying inside and you have lived a torturous internal hell, it doesn’t feel like a compliment, it feels diminishing of the unspeakable suffering

It feels more like an expectation

I wanted to speak, but I couldn’t and when I tried, I was hurt more and abused more

We need to be careful how we use the words strength and resilience

It makes even heroes feel like frauds

We don’t survive suffering or horrific situations out of strength, but of necessity

Hell, we often don’t even have a clue how we survived at all!

I was forced to shut down, I lost memories; I live with reactions and fears and panic I don’t even understand

I don’t need to be told that I am strong, I need someone to see the pain… the heartache and sorrow…

I need to be seen, I need for all that happened to me to be validated so that my brain can process the trauma… and to figure out how it is that I survived at all!

I need the strength of others, I need the courage of others, I need others to be brave enough, to be compassionate enough, I need to be heard and understood

I need others to have the guts to face the reality of my suffering

It is terribly hard to be authentic in a world that cannot handle the truth!

I didn’t choose to be strong, it was forced upon me, it was a part of the consequences of the abuse and trauma I suffered

I need someone to see this, to understand

When I hear the words, “You are strong” or “You are resilient,” it triggers anger in me

It makes me feel like I have to continue to be quiet and alone, to be what you want me to be, what society demands of me, it doesn’t make me feel seen or heard

It isolates me all over again, it doesn’t make me feel understood, it makes me feel alone, again!

I know that I was strong in my weakness, but strength is not what I am, I am broken and alone

I need to feel accepted as I am right now, I need to feel loved as I am right now in all of my brokenness, without the facade, the smiles… without everything that makes society comfortable with what never has been comfortable for me

There is nothing pleasant about anything that has happened to me, especially the smiles and silence that has kept me isolated and alone

I need help!

 

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55 thoughts on “Trying To Understand Why I Struggle When Others Tell Me I Am Strong

      1. I don’t know why I didn’t see these before, but I want you to know your writing touches me. I don’t have the ability to express my way the way that you or many other do – I wish I could – So, when I read your poems or stories it’s as if you reached in and figured out what I was feeling. Thank you for that.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Wow! This really means a lot to me. It is a huge reason why I share my writing. I am very much aware that my sorrow and grief are shared by countless others. Thank you for all of your kind words. My heart goes out to you!

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        2. Thank you. That means a lot. I’m trying to find a direction for my blog – I go from wanting to vent out anger I feel since I’m still having to deal with the physical injuries from that night. I may have inner ear damage – but then I think anger only lets him win so focus on something else and then….blah blah blah…I have good days and I have bad. I look forward to waking up one morning and not having what happened be the first thing on my mind.

          I am going to make a post I wrote public. It’s his voice trying to convince me the bruises on my neck is really my shoulder. Tell me, am I crazy. That’s my neck, right? That’s how insane this man drive me…

          Liked by 1 person

  1. I understand EXACTLY what you are saying. I am told all the time “you are so strong.” And, like you, I resent it. I’m not strong. I am the walking dead. Just because I didn’t physically die…doesn’t mean I am living…it doesn’t mean that I am strong.
    I, too am broken and alone.
    Just because we suffered horrendous abuse which resulted in emotional death and “lived,” doesn’t mean we survived because we are strong. It means we survived and are numb, and as you said…broken and alone.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Laurel, this is so sad to hear in your own words! I am terribly sorry! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and how much you do relate! My heart goes out to you! It would be easier if people said nothing at all. They mean well, but it doesn’t change the hurt!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Many of them don’t mean well Laurel… that is true. I have experienced untold cruelty over the losses and trauma I have experienced and I do know this first hand. And this is why even people who think they are well meaning when they say stupid things hurt so much. I am sorry you have experienced the same. ❤

          Liked by 2 people

        2. My solution was to completely cut myself off from everybody who was toxic to me and that includes my children.
          How they can embrace some adulterous, gold-digging tramp is beyond me…but they chose her and their lying, cheating, disease-giving father.
          More power to them. At least now, I don’t have to suffer their accusatory abuse.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. When we can’t handle any more pain or sorrow, we have no other choice. Even if no one else ever understands. We need people in our lives who want us and act accordingly, not people who just don’t want to lose us! We can’t afford to have people in our lives who don’t care about what happened to us or how their carelessness crushes our already fragile and broken heart. People want to tell us we are strong, I think often what they are really saying is that THEY NEED us to be strong enough to tolerate their abuse and neglect of our souls! And yes, we have to be able to say NO, no more!

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  2. I understand what u are saying. I still haven’t spoke the full truth of what I went through to family and friends, I went it alone, to me that was easier than being called crazy as he had fooled everyone that he was the good one. I just don’t discuss it anymore I’ve managed to put it in my past(I think). I used to think of myself as broken and alone, now I love being alone, no one to answer to, I can do as I wish and come and go as I please, I am free!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I hear you. I acknowledge your pain and your daily struggle. You want empathy and honesty, not platitudes or bromides. You want people to truly hear what you say and how you feel. Some people will be able to do this honestly, others won’t, and you may well want to choose people to interact with who are honest enough to validate your experience. Hugs & love to you.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you so much Cindy! This is very good advice. Thank you for being someone who gets this and understands. You are right, I think this is a huge part of the problem. It is not an easy one, but I have to realize that I am not able to handle anything less than validation. It doesn’t make someone who can’t handle it bad, it just makes them bad for me in my situation. Your comment meant a lot! Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I do understand what you are saying. I have spent years confused by my feelings around this issue. It has taken me a lot of talking and tears to be able to put this into words. I am glad it meant something to you. Thank you! I wish you well too!

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    1. Lori, I can see how you can relate to this! This pain must be deep and present for you. You are living in it and forced to survive through something that is not of yours or your family’s choosing. My heart goes out to you, to your son, to your daughter-in-law, and to your precious granddaughter… and to all those who love each of you! Thank you! Lots of love and hugs to you! ❤

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        1. Lori, I have lived through a great deal of cruelty through every death and loss and abuse I have experienced. People can be cruel, even when they think they are well intentioned. It doesn’t change the hurt or the feeling of being alone. You and your family are going through the unimaginable. There is no positive twist to any of it. I do get that to the depths of the core of my being. Bless you!!!

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  4. I hear you and relate very much. I wonder if people who tell us we’re strong, amazing etc are trying to distance themselves from our pain? They don’t have to empathise if we’re seen as heroes and separate from them. Just thoughts. Not excuses in any way. I feel your pain and understand the loneliness, truly.

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    1. I think there is a lot of truth in what you are saying. There seems to be a lot of fake and false compassion in the world today. Everyone wants to be seen as compassionate by caring about everything and everyone except for those within arms reach.

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  5. I think the above comment about how other’s invalidation is about their inability to understand or empathise with a deep and painful truth is spot on…. they don’t understand so they say stupid things. The only way to help someone who is in pain is to support them and let them know what they feel is real, not try and force them into a defence which they should never have to be capable of. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your thoughts are spot on! Life would be so different for us all if we would show compassion in a meaningful way. It is a disgrace to mankind that those who are cruelly hurt, often not only don’t get the support and help they need, but are carelessly hurt further. This drives us into isolation, which often gets criticized too!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is one of the most inhumane things about our society. I wish there were some way to set up a society to help promote understanding and to confront ignorance. I would really love to do that. We can at least speak about it in our blogs and that is a start. It is a terrible shame that those who suffer trauma are traumatised again. It really needs to change. Hugs ❤

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Mollie, I am sorry it has taken me so long to respond. I just found your comment in my Spam Folder. It is nice to “meet” you! Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I am sorry you are struggling too.

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  6. “I need to be seen, I need for all that happened to me to be validated so that my brain can process the trauma… and to figure out how it is that I survived at all!”

    Yes. I need this too. You communicated so many feelings I have so well here. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My therapist told me that we all need to have our experiences validated in order to process them. Because this never happened for us, that is why we struggle so much with the reality of what happened. I am glad this was helpful to you. Thank you! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was just thinking this as I read your post and the comments. My experiences and emotions weren’t validated – sometimes they went ignored or even punished – for so many years, I need extra validation to catch up!
        I notice in my friends that tell me I am a strong person that they are feeling the limits of their own empathy. They cannot imagine experiencing what I did, thus I must have amazing power. But I don’t. I guess human empathy grows out of human pain.
        M

        Liked by 1 person

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