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!