Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The new "Strong"

In addition to hearing this a lot, I also hear "You are strong" a lot.
Even from Mr. X. I need to talk to him about that.
I have written about how this sort of bothers me before.
Like here, and here, and here, and even here.
Wow, I guess it bothers me quite a bit.
I am getting better at accepting that compliment like all compliments but it is still the hardest one for me to say "Thanks" to and smile.
I just want to ask people to look closer.
"But look at this. And look at this new weakness."
Do they still think I am strong when they take a second look?

I actually talked to my twin about this particular subject last week.
I do not feel strong still.
Not even almost eleven months out.
I still feel weak.
I still feel un-independent.
I still need help a lot.
Even though I do not ask for it.
I feel very un-Star of before.

But there is some truth to the "You are strong" statement.
Yes, I am stronger in some areas.
But I am weaker in others.
So if all my "strong"ness was put into a box, it would be the same total as before.
However, some of the "strong" has been shifted to new areas.
Sort of like a balancing scale.

I am weaker when it comes to emotional stuff.
I am stronger doing my house chores.
I am weaker when it comes to being alone.
I am stronger in budgeting.
I am weaker at handling unexpected changes.
I am stronger at expressing my needs.

So maybe I seem stronger.
Because people only see the new strength.
Or maybe I seem strong because I survived/am surviving a tragedy.
But do not look too close at me.
Do not look beyond the surface.
Do not scratch too deep.
New weaknesses are there.
Just different.

I will accept the "strong" compliments now.
Just be specific.
Since I am still not 100% strong yet.
Not sure if I will ever be.
The grief monster is a tricky guy. He steals strength from parts of me to give to poor parts.

Not sure if I will ever be back to original strength.
I feel like I am a cleaning product that has been reformulated.
Maybe I will not be able to remove wine stains like before but I will now be able to sterilize all sorts of bacteria.

Sigh... yes, I am the reformulated Star.


Supa Dupa Fresh said...

This post is quite as brilliant as always and I have tweeted it out so all my dozen followers will be eagerly visiting ur site.

I love you!



P.S. one story. In support group we always complained about how people say crap like "I admire you." Then this new guy showed up and told how he caregave his wife w/brain tumor for 14 years, 7 of it bedridden, and their oldest son of 4 died the year before she did. So he bought 2 coffins. He made quite an impression. The facilitator said, "Uh.... I know this is a bad thing 2 say... but I really admire you." We cracked up.

So whenever I hear this facile comment I just picture this particular usage and laugh inside.

Joanne said...

Didn't you know that superheroes are able to transform themselves? :) You've transformed yourself into another form of fabulous.

Love you, Star!

Roads said...

Yes, great post.

When people say, 'You're so strong,' I've always thought they really meant to say something slightly different.

What they really mean to say is, 'Yes, thank goodness it's not me.'

And even that way, it's actually quite a compliment. Because they're saying they don't think that they could cope as you do.

And let's hope they never have to learn.

Crash Course Widow said...

I always--STILL, after 4 years of this--have mixed feelings about that whole "You're so strong" shit. The thing I think people forget is that it's not like we have a choice about it. We have to get up, we have to keep moving...there's no "choice" about being "strong"...when really, by strong, it's really just surviving.

But at the same time, there IS a choice about it. We could have become slobbering drunks, or rabid whores, or drug addicts, or a million other things to NOT deal with the pain or our loss. So in that sense, we DID make a dim, subconscious, and small as it was at any given moment.

So I don't really like "strong." But I DO like:


A fighter.



Those I can wrap my head and my arms around...but at the same time, it's taken me 4 years to realize, accept, and embrace them.

Love ya, girl! xoxo, Candice