Before stepping on this path I used to think tough and strong were interchangeable. I thought they meant the same thing. I had been through a lot in my life and I considered myself tough. I wore that like a badge of honor, but what I didn’t realize that what I was so proud of was keeping me sick, keeping me isolated and contributing to my loneliness.
Being tough, for me, meant putting on my armor, keeping everyone out, and keeping my sickness in. Being tough wasn’t kind, it wasn’t compassionate, it was cold, it could be mean, and it fed into my disease, it gave it fuel to grow and spread, and it kept me ashamed enough to not tell anyone, and the longer I lived that way the sicker I got. And even as I was getting sicker, I thought I was getting tougher, but really it was just my disease that was getting tougher as it rapidly took over and I got lost inside of it. That tough exterior was hiding a soft interior, one of a sensitive girl who was hiding behind that armor, to survive, she thought, but was slowly succumbing to her disease. We tell ourselves stories, to survive, to walk through pain, and my perceived toughness was a story I told myself to make it better for myself, to make the way I was living my life easier to accept, to make excuses for it, and if I was to get better, I had to drop that toughness and get vulnerable. The prospect of that terrified me, but the thought of totally becoming consumed by the way I was living terrified me even more.
Getting vulnerable, I thought was a form of weakness, at the beginning, it was something that frightened me, as someone who had lived as a tough girl for most of her life. Letting that armor go and standing in my truth wasn’t easy. But as I did it, as I let each piece of that armor go, and stood tall, I found my strength. It took time, and a lot of work, but living in rigorous honesty helped me to build that strength, and in time living in and speaking my truth is what gave my strength, and still does. My vulnerability, and learning to be vulnerable, gave me strength, and still does, because I learned in my vulnerability that I was OK, just as I was, that I was not my past, and that I had the power to change my story, there was strength in that. Strength, to me, is owning who you are, of not caring what others might think if you share your truth, of standing up for what you believe in, and who you believe in, and not being afraid to love. My strength is loving, kind, compassionate, supportive, inclusive and open, it’s always changing and growing because I make sure I remain teachable, and allow new things and possibilities into my life, I find my strength in all of these things, as well as a relationship in something bigger myself, something I tap into for guidance, and, more strength. But for all of that to grow, I need to remain vulnerable. It is our vulnerability that gives us strength, it allows us to connect with others and to ourselves. It teaches us that we are enough and what we have can help others if we share our truth with them.
I am proud of my strength today, and don’t miss that old armor I used to wear and carried around. That armor never did protect me, it stopped me from becoming the strong woman I am today. SLAY on!
SLAY OF THE DAY: Do you consider yourself tough or strong? When you think of your toughness, what does that mean to you? Do you feel like it’s a good thing? Do you see how it could be hurting you? How do you feel about being vulnerable? Have you been vulnerable in the past? What was the result? How did you feel? Did you choose the right person or people to get vulnerable with? Do you see how letting yourself be vulnerable could gather strength? Can you write about a time you were vulnerable with someone you felt strong as a result? What does strength mean to you? Do you feel you are strong? How so? How did you get your strength? SLAYER, let go of the past, of your fears, and let yourself speak your truth, stand in your truth, don’t be afraid to be vulnerable, it just may be the strongest thing you do as you discover your own strength.
S – self L – love A – appreciate Y – you