I love to remind you how strong and courageous you are. I choose these adjectives for two reasons: (1) I know they are true about you and (2) this disease tries – and sometimes succeeds – at making us feel weak and helpless.
But if you’re the type of woman who, like me, always feels like she has to be strong, who takes problems head-on, and is constantly looking for solutions, sometimes – just sometimes – being strong and courageous is not always the best answer right away.
For most of my life, I have been considered the strong one in my family.
When I am hurt, I don’t usually cry or hide. I almost always confront the situation or person. When I see injustice, I speak up (especially for my kids). I don’t have a problem taking on other people’s issues and helping in any way that I can.
And most of the time this works for me.
But every now and then, I see a really soft, tender-hearted person who dares to be vulnerable and I get jealous (that was embarrassing to admit).
I am thinking of a certain woman whom I went to dinner with. During the entire dinner, she was soft-spoken. She was a wonderful listener and only contributed when she had something of value to add to the conversation. She was petite and tender. Even her soft, pastel clothing was innocent-looking.
I know when she gets hurt, she cries. She expresses her feelings with an open heart and vulnerability.
And everyone melts.
And this is where I get jealous. Because nobody really feels sorry for the strong ones. I can’t tell you the number of times I have struggled in my life and my parents told me, “I don’t worry about you, Michelle. I know you can take care of yourself.”
And a part of me is flattered they think I’m so capable. But a part of me wants them to worry a little.
Being strong and courageous are virtues that I would never, ever want to give up. But this woman at lunch reminded me that it’s also important for us to be soft and allow ourselves to fall apart when we need to.
To pause for half an hour, half a day, or half a month and just cry. Let it out. I don’t need to immediately pick up the pieces every time right away. I might need to let myself sit in the pain on the bathroom floor for a moment. Let my heart open up to the struggle and be really daring. Let someone I trust see me falling apart.
And even say “Yes, please!” if someone kindly offers to help me instead of always being in control.
I asked my Secret Facebook Group how they felt about the idea of allowing ourselves to take a break from being strong and courageous and this is what they said (they are so wise):
“I feel like I’m saying ‘there is beauty in the breakdown’ a lot lately and it’s okay to fall apart because that’s necessary in order to become whole again. We tried to be perfect (wives, daughters) and that’s what got us here in the first place. If we own each feeling and accept each feeling, then we can process it peacefully in our own time and move forward to a more beautiful place.”
“Sometimes what may appear to be a weakness – breaking down, crying, withdrawing – is actually the strongest thing we can do. Admitting we can’t do it all is strong!”
“Being strong, I think, to me looks like not being consumed by grief, bitterness, or shame. If I let it out, I’m dealing with it and walking THROUGH the pain, not around it. So, if I need a sick day or to cry at a stoplight, or whatever, I’m dealing with it and walking through it… focused on not being consumed.”
“Yes. Surrendering to how we REALLLLY feel! I have to let myself do that every now and again! I have to remind myself it’s okay to have ALLLLL of the feels! The bad ones. The negative ones. The pessimistic ones. They are ALL valid. I actually feel a great release when I finally realize that what I am doing is BLOCKING the flow of the negative feelings in order to ‘stay strong’ and ‘be positive.’”
“Sometimes it is just so hard to hold it all together, to be strong for our kids, at work and for ourselves. It’s okay to be human. Today I called in sick to work, which I find so hard to do. I had a good cry, a cup of coffee, and I’m going to lie in bed for awhile, and then I know I can be strong again.”
“I think definitely it’s okay to relieve ourselves of the need to always be strong. We’re always taking care of so many things in our daily lives. Through yoga, I’ve learned that sometimes just being quiet and getting in touch with how we’re truly feeling can allow those feelings to bubble to the surface and then clear away. Also, because we are always going, going, going, to put ourselves in a receptive state to pull our energy inward is a good way to renew that strength and courage.”
“I do think we need a break! At least I do some days. Not to wallow in it, but just to grieve the losses we endure and must come to terms with. Sometimes just being given permission to cry it out, rant and rave, and feel the anger and sadness can be such a great release. That alone can give me the strength and courage to keep moving forward.”
“I think sometimes feeling the emotions and falling apart at times is being strong and courageous. You are being true to yourself.”
Do you see why I love these women so much? There is such amazing wisdom in our online group.
If you’re interested in joining us – we would LOVE to have you.
You get immediate access after you purchase any one of the programs. And because the group is Secret – none of your friends and family will be able to tell you’re a member or see your posts. Facebook does a great job of hiding all activity.