Monday, October 8, 2012

STRONG

Last week I was struggling to get to sleep one night, still feeling queasy plus with a migraine threatening in the background, so I tried to find something to think about to take my mind off things.  I thought about how people with chronic illness and pain are often told they are so "strong" or told to "be strong." And it bothers me sometimes.  Because I'm not sure what that means exactly.  And if it means to never have breakdowns, or never complain, or never curse the situation, or anything like that, then I am fairly confident no one can be that strong.  But I do not believe those things are weakness.  So I decided to come up with my own definition of what it means to be "strong."  And to occupy my thoughts enough to drift off into sleep, I constructed a definition within an acronym.  Here you go:

S
I will stay
I know this may be hard for some of you to read or understand but yes, there have been moments when I have doubted my reason for being here.  There have been many thoughts of "what good can I do when I'm in bed all the time?" "can I really do this every day of the rest of my life?" etc.  And then when I start down that very dark path of thoughts, one that I hope most of you have never been down, I have found myself faced with the knowledge that I never really would be able to do it. Like a dead end, a wall before me, it just made me feel even more stuck, because it felt like I didn't even have a choice, really.  And so, for whatever reason, in my own twisted thoughts sometimes, I have decided that I have to look at it as a choice, even though the alternative may not be something I would ever actually do. 
Every day is a choice to live. 
I choose to be here.
I choose to do this.
I will stay.
 
T
I will trust.
I believe in God and I trust Him.
I do not understand all things (or anything) but I know He loves me.
I trust that although I may not be what I think of as "ok", my kids will be ok.  Somehow, they will be ok.
And I trust that my husband will be given the strength to help our family through this.  He will be ok.  Our marriage will make it through this.  Our family will make it through this.
I will do everything I can to find treatments etc, and then I will leave the rest and trust that there is more to life, my life, than I can see.  Somehow.
 
R
I will be real.
I will never be one who will put on a false face and pretend things are better than they are.  That is just not something I can do.  And I believe that by being real with others, others feel more free to be real to me.  I have had people email me with their own different struggles similar in some way to my own that they do not share publicly or freely, and I feel trusted and valued.  I think it's important that we can be real - open and honest.  I believe all our burdens are lifted when we can help share the emotional load.
 
O
I will remember others.
I will try to remember others who have struggles more difficult than my own, or lighter than my own, or equal.  The weight of their burden or trial does not diminish mine but it helps, so much, to not feel alone.  In this day of internet technology, no one should ever feel they have to endure something alone.  There is always someone somewhere willing to listen, someone who feels similar pain, someone who can just be there.  I sometimes feel so limited in what I can do for others.  But I am a good listener.  I can support and love and empathize.  This I can do.  Please come to me if I can ever help you in this way.
 
N
I will recognize my needs.
This is hard.  It is hard to listen to my body and do what it needs, when I feel a little bit conditioned to push through fatigue and a little bit of pain to get things done.  It is hard to not feel like I'm just lazy.  Or a wimp.  Or something.  It is also hard to recognize that I just can't do what I used to do (exercise a lot, triathlon, etc).  Or what I used to think that someday I would really be able to do (get through the day without a nap).  Here I am.  And I will recognize and honor the needs I have right now.  Physical, mental and emotional needs.  I need to be better to myself.  Perhaps the hardest of them all and requiring the most strength to actually do.
 
G
I will be grateful and look for the good.
Sometimes this is easier than others. We all know that. Part of the way I do this is by taking silly Instagram pictures and doing PhotoADay challenges.  Sometimes I make happy charts.  Sometimes I just hug and kiss my children (and my husband).  And sometimes all I see is darkness and I have to just sit and wait until the clouds pass.  But being strong means I will keep trying and keep looking for the good in my life and being grateful for the beautiful wonderful colorful life I have.
 
This is what being STRONG means to me now.
I think I can do this.
And when I don't think I can, I will fight my way back until I can think through this list and remember the small things that remind me I can.
I will be strong.

9 comments:

Kate Chappell said...

Wow Kristen this is very, very Well written!! I never thought of "Strong" like this before. When people tell me I'm strong, I always say "I'm not strong, I'm a survivor. I don't have any other choice but to survive each day." But now you've enlightened me & I will use this as guidance.

Love ya lady! ♥♡♥

Tricia F said...

This is excellent! It's a wonderful balance of being honest but not fake. Thank you for sharing this!

Colleen said...

Well said. Be your own strong.

Ashley Case said...

AMEN! Well written, really.

Kamp Kyburz said...

This is BEAUTIFUL! Profound. Bless you!

Mom M. said...

Very, very well written, Kristen. You have such a talent for putting your thoughts and feelings down into words and you did a great job on this one!! Love you!!

Linda said...

Love It Kristen!

Christina G. said...

so beautiful

Jennifer Pelo Rawlings said...

I love this, Kristen. Making good, sometimes incredibly hard choices. Beautifully written.

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