I originally wrote this blog post December 2015 for Plaid for Women, an incredible community where women support one another. I wanted to share this post because it is a message that we too often forget – strength does not come from doing it all alone.
My two boys and I just finished the most epic road trip ever, covering nearly five thousand miles of the American southwest and the Californian coastline. For almost three weeks we enjoyed one another’s company, laughing and making memories that will certainly last a lifetime (score 1 mom)! But then I got home. My position at work was changing and I was stuck in the dreaded transition phase. Two family members fell on tough times and needed my support. My oldest child was starting his first year of homeschooling. My mother was not feeling well. I had committed to singing in two bands and had major gigs coming up. Everything collided in my life at once. I felt like finding a rock and hiding under it until the New Year.
Now I am a strong Christian woman who believes in the power of prayer, but at that moment, my faith was weak. I prayed to God but because of my internal frustrations I could not find peace. Nothing in my life prepared me for all of that – and I’ve gone through some crazy things. I felt alone and decided to keep it all in, fearing that expressing the heaviness of my burdens would reveal weakness. I kept it all in until one day I snapped! I literally broke down crying. The pressures I allowed to build up inside of me had become too much to handle and I broke.
It was after work and I could not take it and went to my church and shared what I was going through with my pastor. Tears flowed freely while my face contorted and my mouth wailed. Never had I experienced so much heaviness. I told him everything that was going on and how I felt and he told me something I had never heard before – “you need to let people know how you feel.” WHAT? Share my feelings?
I was always taught to “be strong,” “keep it together” and “wipe those tears.” How do I express how I feel without hurting someone else? More than that, how do I express how I feel without looking weak?
See, we weren’t meant to walk this world alone – God made Eve because God saw that Adam was lonely. . We are social beings; to keep everything in for the sake of “being strong” is asinine. The more we allow this to happen, the more we fool ourselves and wreak havoc on our lives.
There is a fallacy in what we identify as strength. The strong ones are not the ones who allow themselves to carry the weight of the world all alone, no, the strong ones are the ones who recognize where they need a helping hand and ask for it. Yes, the strong ones are the ones who share how they feel, they cry when they need to cry, they have friends they confide in without fear of judgment, they acknowledge their emotions without allowing their emotions to control them. The strong are not those who merely walk around with smiles pretending everything is ok – on the contrary, the strong ones smile but are aware and acknowledge the crazy in their lives.
How did we get to that place where we think we have to do it all on our own? We put ourselves through so much guilt and get ourselves so worked up behind the thought that emotions expose weakness. I know better now that strength comes from admitting our weaknesses and not from pretending we do not have any.