Recently, when I was feeling particularly down, having dealt with some nonsense that really brought about a lot of emotion, a number of friends sent me ‘notes’ saying, “You’re so strong.”, “You’re the strongest person I know.”, and one well meaning friend even referred to me as “Unsinkable.”
I know they were trying to help and I appreciate their kindness, but when I’m feeling down, the last thing I want to hear is that I’m strong, because at that moment, I feel quite weak.
I feel like I’m putting on a brave face or a strong facade every day, so when things are overwhelming, getting the best of me, it’s actually kind of a relief, a release of sorts, to be able to be weak… to fall apart and let down the defenses and the facade.
I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve found that being a person with chronic pain and disabilities, it’s hard to talk to ‘able-bodied’ people about what I experience. They often dismiss my feelings or struggles, I think, because they simply don’t know how to handle them, they don’t know what to think, so rather than ask questions or try to understand, they simply dismiss what’s being conveyed. Perhaps it makes them uncomfortable, because they can’t do anything to make us feel better or to ‘fix’ the situation.
There’s something a bit ‘unsettling’ about the suggestion that anyone is ‘unsinkable.’ I’m human, I experience human emotions, I’m just as capable as anyone else of falling to pieces, being pulled under by the current… and I often feel as if I’m drowning in my emotions and/or depression. Suggesting I’m ‘unsinkable’ kind of feels as if they are denying my humanity. I know that seems like an overreaction to the comment, but that’s what went through my mind when I was processing the situation I was in and the support folks were offering.
I have, many times, contemplated suicide, that is how I first was referred to a psychiatrist and initially ended up in therapy. I hadn’t actually tried to kill myself, but when I admitted how often I thought about it, that triggered healthcare professionals to take action BEFORE it escalated to ‘action.’
I manage to get through every day by telling myself little lies, by considering that tomorrow might be a little better than today. I guess I kind of ‘trick’ my psyche into being more positive than negative.
I also keep, as a motivating force, in the back of my mind, that every day I get through, every night when I lay my head down on my pillow is the end of another day that I didn’t let what my ‘abuser’ did beat me!
I really don’t think of it as strength, but survival instincts, defense mechanisms kicking in.
I guess now and then, it’s comforting to be allowed to be weak and it, in some twisted way, validates the letting down of my defenses, when others can allow me to be weak, emotional, fall to pieces.