Thursday, April 6, 2017

I'm Also Obsessed with Strength

Some people are saying strong is the new skinny. Well, crap. That just happens to be my other obsession. 

As long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be tough. I didn't cry easily as a girl and believed there was virtue in suffering silently. I hoped pretending my skin was thick would make it so, and everything would hurt less. If I got strong enough, I'd be safe.

I equated strength with muscle. I chose the hardest workouts and felt proud when I finished them. If I went to gentler classes, I'd wimped out. I wanted to feel good about myself and the only time I felt good about myself was when I was being strongI also felt weak when I opted for a c-section delivery. A real woman would push two babies out! When I met a woman who'd delivered twins vaginally, I felt a pang. See? She did it. I could've too, if I'd just been brave enough to try. The stupid thing is, I developed HELP syndrome and couldn't have delivered vaginally, even if I'd planned to. But logic doesn't help you feel better when you're afraid, does it? 

Childhood trauma taught me, You're never safe because the people you need most will hurt you on purpose. Unless...

Unless you're stronger than them. And the fantasy was born. 

A couple weeks ago my yoga teacher said, "You know it takes strength to be soft, right?" 

Yeah, yeah. I see it on other people. The strongest let you see how they feel, pushing past stigma to be honest and real, even when it means crumbling. But when it's my turn to crumble, I look for another way. A stoic, tidy way - those are my favorite. Crying til I need to blow my nose has got to be my least favorite. 

But that happened with two sweet yoga teachers. It didn't feel okay at all. I felt apologetic for the chaos I was feeling. While I hugged one teacher, the other teacher whispered, "This is strong." 

And do you know what that felt like? 

Trauma was like choosing between standing in a fire or submerging myself in a pool of water. Obviously, I dove for cover. It's not safe up there, I will stay here. Everything was muffled and blurry, but I couldn't stand being up there, fully alive in the face of so much pain. 

It seems nothing short of miraculous to come out of the water after so many years. But to come out of the water and find I'm safe?? 

I have no words.  


Well, maybe just a few: 

I'd really like to be a bad ass, but even more, I want to be alive and realize I'm loved and safe. 

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