Over the course of my life, people have called me strong. While I am touched that some may think I am strong, I fear that deep down, people will see that I really am only doing the best I can. I do not deserve the accolades.
My dad left when I was in the fourth grade. He wanted to make a better life for his kids (so he claimed) and he packed his bags and moved out. My mom was used to being a single mom because my dad was absent a lot, but she was not used to him being gone all the time and leaving her with no money and no support. She raised us pretty much without him. That is strength.
When the lawyers asked me which parent I wanted to live with and asked for testimony about both my mom and my dad, I said and did what I had to do. That is survival, not strength.
My first child was stillborn. One day she was kicking me hard from the inside out and the next day…nothing. The hospital confirmed our worst fears and I delivered my beautiful daughter to a very quiet room with no sound but my own crying. I survived the ordeal for my husband and our loved ones, but not because I had any real desire to live. I had no strength left.When I stood in the courtroom and the judge asked me if I would love and treat my adopted daughter as if I had given birth to her, I almost laughed. Of course I would. She was ours. She was mine. That is not strength, it is just fact.
When I found out that the baby that was the recipient of my daughter’s crib and changing table had died of SIDS, I was paralyzed with fear. How can I live in a world where such tragedy happens? I did not feel strong.
When I learned that the mother of my best friend had lymphoma, I cried. When I heard that the mother of another close friend had breast cancer, I wailed. That is not strength.
I feel weak. I feel sad. So very sad.
I also feel the urge to be a better person, a stronger person, a healthier person so that I am around to make sure the ones I love can lean on me when they need. Is that strength? If so, then maybe I am onto something.
I cannot determine what is strong any more than I can control what happens in this world. I can control how I react to the things in my life, though, and I can be as strong as only I can be.