April 29, 2008
On being strong…
A friend of mine was telling me those two phrases as I was telling him about my disappointment in a certain friend who simply allowed herself to fall because she’s too fragile! “It’s the stronger people who survive you know”, and “but fragile people if not protected really shatter when whey fall”
I did not disagree then because I was too overwhelmed with my own feelings on the matter, until later that day, I went to pay my respects to my x-supervisor, S, whom her mom just died a couple of days ago.
S is one the strongest women I have ever seen; I personally find her strength inspiring. Here are the headlines…
She has polio, and yet she’s one of the most active people I have ever known, and she manages to remain fit so that weight problems would not make it harder for her to walk around.
She had breast cancer back when I used to work with her; everyone who knew cried so hard, but I remember how SHE used to call us and check on us before she went into surgery! Her strength and how she managed to survive the surgery and the chemotherapy yet still come to work and get things done was more than just admirable.
Shortly after her so called recovery, she fell on her good leg and had to undergo another surgery which practically caused her to stay home for a while; hence, being unable to distract herself by working. Even then when I visited, she managed to look strong and act strong, and not to mention motherly! I always said she was the mother I never had and the mother I would never want to have, I can’t live up to those expectations of hers, NO ONE can!
The cancer attacked again around last year and she had to do radiotherapy this time, still surviving alhamdulilah, God bless her.
I did not even begin mentioning her own personal problems, and boy does she have loads of those!!
Back at work someone once described her “heya el dynamo beta3 el sherka, men gherha e7na teroos bayza”, and it’s true; the days she was off because of her health issues, all of us suffered! She was the one who helped me and my colleague communicate with our boss who sometimes just made me jump up and down with extreme anger. She used to help him communicate with the legal staff who never gave him much –if any- respect.
Seeing her yesterday as she was telling her family what should go where and taking charge of most –if not all- decision making, I just couldn’t get her strength!! I was hugging her and she was asking me how I was, and if I am being as strong as she’s always known me to be!! ME, I can never NEVER be that strong. This woman has just lost a mother whom she loved dearly, whom she referred to as “the only true unconditional love life ever gave her”.
I don’t cry in wakes, unlike others, I find it rude to cry; I don’t know how it should help people if I cry. Yet I do not know how to comfort those who had lost people to death, I feel useless and I usually stare at the floor and avoid eye contact in such situations!! But looking at how everyone was counting on her and expecting her to be the strong one, and how they were not just taking her strength for granted, but also burdening her with arguments and questioning her decisions!! No one was patting her shoulder or trying to comfort her in anyway, because she’s strong!! It made me want to go sit next to her on the couch and tell her that she can be weak now, people will give her the space she needs if she just breaks down and cries; that I will make them shut up if they tell her to “be strong”!! That she should not worry about any of them pointing at her and saying “eh da S collapsed!!”!! But I didn’t, I was afraid I would make her feel even weaker inside and that she would feel more compelled to hide behind a stronger appearance.
I instantly hated her family for pressuring her into being strong when it seemed like she needed to feel weak. I judged them despite knowing that they are pretty decent and that they really love and value her.
So friend, in my opinion, the strong ones ARE weak!!! Only they are not allowed to show it… they suck it up and get their act together, and I think at some point it makes them feel even weaker inside.
Right now, I feel blessed for being able to cry my heart out and crumble on the floor of my room when it gets too much, then when I am done, I’d go splash cold water on my face and wear a smile and go by with my life.
I am afraid that sometimes I need to cry to someone, but I am too proud or I am trying to be strong!
Oh dear God, I don’t want to be the kind of fragile who would give up on living by my principles, but I surely do not want to be that strong. I do not want to feel weak inside yet hide it from myself because I feel obliged to keep a strong appearance, then fail to ask for the help I need.