When Adam was sick, the word came to me that he was worried for our children but not for me, because I was “strong.” I resented this a lot. Did he think my so-called strength made me immune to suffering? Did he think that because I was “strong” I wouldn’t be brought to my knees by the pain of his death? I could go on.
Today I feel it necessary to talk about this so-called strength that I exhibited, that supposedly made me immune to pain, to a need for worry, to whatever “strength” is supposed to shield one from.
I had the opportunity today to redefine what that word means, and I’d like to share that with you, dear readers.
Strength, as I see it, is not an immunity to devastation, is not a stoic reaction to bad fortune. Instead, strength is a recognition that one needs help. Strength says, I can’t do/survive this alone and please help me. Strength says I am devastated and have held out as long as possible, but now I am weak and I need you to tell me what to do.
One who supresses feelings, thinking that time will obviate them without the benefit of examination, rumination, and hard and excrutiating work to deal with them is the one who is weak. The person who is embarrassed to be consumed by devastation is the one who finds no comfort and who is weak, and weakened by circumstances. The one who is strong begs on bended knee for whatever help is available. We strengthen each other; no one gains strength by becoming isolated, by depending on the self. Strength comes from dependence.