June 24, 2015

strength — are we perpetuating the wrong message?

We all know how to survive.
Surviving is primal.
Survival can get ugly though. 

Like many, I have felt victimized—and as the story goes, I have fallen because of it. It was then that I decided that living as a victim was one of the worst places I could reside.

So I got back up, threw my nose up in the air and I called it my strength. I charged forward armored in anger and resentment. Wounded and ravenous, I set out on the warpath of self-preservation.

I closed myself off. Trusting no one, I became inflexible and built mile high walls that looked a lot like deception, manipulation and intimidation. 

I beat others down and fought damn hard to nail them to the wall just so I would know where they were when my back was turned. 

Somewhere in my hectic villainous schedule, I found ample time to numb-out at every chance I got.  It was during this time that I visited the dimmest corners of my mind and then subsequently made choices from those corners. Needless to say, dimlit corners hold nothing but dimwit decisions. It would seem that I was making it a point to slow dance with my demons. I was suddenly becoming the victimizerI knew it, but I couldn’t stop. I felt I had nowhere else to go other than victimhood and I desperately did not want to be there. 

Please, anywhere but there...

Eventually, it was the heaviness of my choices on my conscience that knocked me back down—and so I fell again. This time I stayed down. I called it my weakness.

Totally bare, I curled up and shivered as I lay in the unforgiving frigidity of rock bottom. 

Shameful and guilty, I proceeded to lash myself until it felt as though the remnants of my heart’s goodness had bled out. 

My personal value was being stripped away as the shame and guilt from what I had done ran through my veins.  

Self-damnation brought me to the very darkest corner of my mindthe mindset I now respectfully and a little fearfully refer to as Hell between Ears

This is the darkside venue that no one knows exists within them until it pulls you in for an impromptu visit.  

It was there where I rubbed elbows with my own darkness and entertained thoughts I never fathomed experiencing in this lifetime. 

I have, on this journey, asphyxiated on lies in an attempt to drown my secrets. I have housed my fears and fed my faults. At other times, I have flown on the wings of self-righteousness and self-medicated on my narrow judgments of others. These are not the markings of human weakness, nor are they the tellers of human strength. 

These are simply the deepest footprints of someone struggling to survive in the wilderness that we call our human experience. 

We spend so much time being romanced by the grandiose nature of getting back up. 

Is it really strength though?

Sometimes the aftermath of getting back up doesn't come from a place of inner strength. Likewise, we quickly avoid showcasing the times in our life where we stayed down. 

Is it really weakness?

Sometimes the aftermath of staying down is not the results of inner weakness.

Maybe strength hasn't a thing to do with getting back up and maybe weakness hasn't a thing to do with staying down.

What if the ups and downs are simply a response to an inner knowing? A gut feeling which either pulls you up by the suspenders, or holds you down at the shoulders both of which are for your greater good in the grand scheme of things. 

I have learned so much as I ran around swinging my fists at unsuspecting by-passers who got in my waybut it was not until I was willing to stay down for a while that I was able to really see any of it. At the same time, I have learned so much while I hid away under the covers of my shame, but I was blind to it all until I was willing to get back up. 

It seems to me that both the ups and downs play vital roles in the support of the other. 

Is inhalation more respectable or beneficial than exhalation? 

Perhaps strength by definition is in our willingness to walk back into an emotional war-zone after the dust settles in order to try and see things from a different perspective. Maybe it’s in the hunt for our lessons where our strength is developed. It doesn't take much strength to get back up much like taking cover, very often, it's basic survival.

It would seem to me that being able to let go of what tears and weighs you down is what requires indomitable strength.

Perhaps strength lives in the willingness to take an honest look around at the mess and see it for what it really is? 

What if strength is the ability to haul the lessons and messages out of the debris of your misfortunes and mistakes without lugging the debris around with you?

What if strength is having the courage to clean up any messes you've made as best you can?

Maybe, just maybe, real strength is the ability to fall down without berating yourself while you're lying there—or to get back up without using vengeance as a driving force?

What if strength is being able to come out of anything as a whole person, no matter what? 

The ability to believe you are still a worthy whole person. No. Matter. What.


That’s a big one.

Maybe that’s strength.

1 comment:

  1. Great article, Jen! As a martial artist, we learn to push through the pain - even to the point of making it worse - instead of learning from it and working with it. "What if strength is the ability to haul the lessons and messages out of the debris of your misfortunes and mistakes without lugging the debris around with you?" BAM!!! I'll be sharing this!!