I am physically strong. I can lift things, fix other things, my cardio could be better, but I can begrudgingly run a 5k without throwing up or dying. I am mentally acute, and in many aspects I am emotionally strong. When it comes to defending myself and my ideals, I am undaunted. Strangers with differing opinions don’t scare me, and I am always ready to go to bat for those I love at any moment. This does not, however, mean that when I do need help, when I am scared and vulnerable and feeling weak, that a simple “you can handle it, you’re tough” will make all of my problems disappear.
Telling me I’m strong is, in my opinion, a brush off of my concerns/fears/anxiety etc. You care so little about my wellbeing that you end the conversation before it starts. One sentence and TA-DA! I’ve been reminded that I can deal with it, so I should shut up and make sure there’s nothing that I can do for you. The worst part of this for me is that nearly every time I’ve been given the “you’re strong” conversation ender, it’s been someone I consider myself close to. I don’t latch onto strangers and force my sob story upon them, I keep my emotions for the people I think I can trust with them.
And thus begins a whole new sub-cycle of anxiety and fear. Are my problems that easy? When I struggle, should I keep it under my vest so as not to burden my loved ones? Why is it that I am willing to repeatedly help those who cannot offer me even a feigned interest in my life?
I am strong. I kick ass on the regular. But strength still requires maintenance, validation, and gentle care. If you leave the rebar exposed to the elements it becomes warped by the wind and rusted by the rain. It needs to be built upon, encased, secured with foundation, and protected so that it remains a a useful part of the structure as a whole. The point is, we all need to support each other, whether you’re the rebar, the windows, the support beams…because if one breaks down, the whole structure suffers.
So please, I beg you, don’t brush ANYONE off by “reminding” them that they are strong. They know they are. What you need to remind them that you can be strong on their behalf when they need a break. You may see your statement as uplifting, but to people like me it indicates complacency. Treat me how I treat you.
Two songs to go with the post:
Apple Blossom by The White Stripes https://youtu.be/y8gU1zhzJ2E
Bloody Motherfucking Asshole by Martha Wainwright http://youtu.be/pX-bIr8dr6U