They Tell Themselves “She’s Strong”.


People are always telling me how strong I am…as though it’s a compliment or something.  But it isn’t…not for me.  Because I never feel strong, and being told I’m strong feels insulting when I am hands down the weakest person I know.  When my life’s story is that I have always been the unwanted, unloved, ignored, insulted, or abandoned one who never even had the guts or strength to breathe without apologizing for taking up someone else’s air.  The one so desperate for a friend that she’d jump at any measure of attention just because it felt like hope that I was worth something.  And that’s all I ever wanted from before I can remember – to just feel and be worth more than someone else’s beating post.  But I never was.  And nobody ever sees that. Why?  Because nobody thinks about the people they perceive as “strong”, even if those people are dying right in front of them.

The reality is I’m not strong, and never have been.  But nobody ever saw that and so I numbed the pain, shut everyone out, pursued abusive relationships, and sold my soul to the devil just because he offered a better looking lie than any reality I had ever known.  I lost myself and the capacity to handle life without completely tuning out or shutting down.  And now it takes every ounce of sanity and strength I have, every single day, just to pretend to be normal for long enough to keep people from asking too many questions.

Strong?  I have never been strong.  And I hate being told that I am because I can’t even hold myself together long enough to get through a day without thinking about how nice it would be to not wake up.  But nobody ever sees that because, quite frankly, they just don’t want to.  So they tell themselves, “she’s strong.”


3 thoughts on “They Tell Themselves “She’s Strong”.

  1. Ruth,

    I apologize if my first response to this was too quick and sounded too much like a platitude. That was not my intention. I’ve been praying for you for a while now and though I don’t know you well, I do care about you as a sister in Christ.

    In a sense, a certain measure of our suffering is always going to be something only we know about and endure. We can feel empathy for another’s pain or grief, and we may even have shared a similar experience, but each person’s pain or grief is their own unique experience.

    We also have a strange way as humans of trying to ignore the fact that everyone around us is suffering in some way (even though we ourselves suffer). Even to deny that at some point we will all suffer.

    I will not say I know exactly how you feel, because I don’t. I do know the struggle with and feelings of futility toward this earthly existence. The physical, mental, spiritual pain that we can endure and have inflicted upon us.

    If this life was all there was, it would be truly meaningless and worthy of despair. I cannot say that I have never despaired, because I have. I have entered large black holes of depression, fatigue, and disinterest and futility. I relate to not being able to function, not even being able to explain it to those around me. The ones who grasped any part of it were rare. And treasured. It is not easy to come alongside someone in pain (of any sort) and to stay alongside them. Maybe that’s why you have found so many people want you to wear an “I’m fine” mask or simply be silent.
    They don’t know how to handle it, what to say, or how to help.

    I guess I want to ask you how it is you are feeling toward God and please know that I am not going to judge it, whatever it is, if you are open to sharing it. If you’d rather not share it here on the blog, please feel free to email me through my site contact form. If you’d rather not share it, that’s okay, too. Please know either way I’m continuing to lift you up in prayer for His healing and mercy and asking Him to give you hope. However far away He feels, He is right there and He loves you far more than you can imagine — no matter what your circumstances are.

    Ps. 34:18: The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

    I don’t put that verse to be some sort of scriptural bandaid or fix-all, but simply to let you know this is who God is.

    In kindness, Jennifer

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