Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Strength in smiling but not in tears?

@WomenofHistory tweeted something that is bothering me immensely. The tweet was:
"Strength is when you have so much to cry for but you prefer to smile instead."
 Wow. Does that make my ED shout for joy.
For years, I have starved and pushed and ran my pain into the deep recesses of my mind and body so that I could put on a smile and a friendly demeanor. So I could function in the world. So I could be "successful" in my work and home. All the starvation, the pushing, the running, the subjugation of my pain and my tears and my emotions, has led me no one good.
Today, I struggle to open up, to share those tears, those feelings, the pain with others in my life. While true Star Trek Vulcans do not smile either, I vulcanized myself through flames and heat into a mold of the perfect approachable friendly person - ready and willing to help others with anything at any time. 
For me, strength is not in smiling in the face of so much pain. For me, strength is allowing myself to show my vulnerable side to others. Bravery is to bare my pain and tears to the world; to let them see that I am a human, after all. This is what I have been trying to teach my children. That it is okay to feel all emotions - anger, sadness, joy, pain. That you must allow yourself to feel them as each comes to the surface. "The only way out is through."
 My equine therapist said to me that I am a strong and brave woman. I have a hard time believing that (though I accepted that she believed that and thanked her.) Partly because in our society, a show of strength is seen as facing fears and pain with smiles.
So while I understand that the tweet was trying to send a positive message, personally, I think a better one would be "Strength is when you have so much to cry for, you let the tears water the seeds of a new day."

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