Thursday Thoughts: Strength and Power

People tell me all the time that I'm "strong," and that I'm "tough." People tell me how they think I can handle anything that comes my way. Not because I'm powerful, but because "God won't give you more than you can bear."

People used to tell me that they saw me as "fearless" - that it was a quality they envied in me. But I am not fearless. PTSD is a crippling psychological disease, and one of the very worst of my symptoms is the anxiety I live with daily.

The anxiety that makes me have to go to Food City every day for a week because a quick fifteen minute trip for that night's dinner is all I can do and a thirty minute trip for a week of dinners looks like too much to bear. The anxiety that makes me sit in the parking lot for ten or fifteen minutes before I go in, talking myself into actually doing it.

The kind that makes me write a scene where an abuse victim is afraid to take a shower because she feels vulnerable when she's naked and unarmed (that came from my real life). The kind that, once she's in the shower, she's also afraid to get out of the shower because she's afraid of what might be waiting on the other side of the curtain when she opens it (that was me too, and sometimes still is).

I'm not strong, and I'm not powerful, and I'm not fearless.

Except ...

"She was powerful not because she wasn't scared but because she went on so strongly despite the fear." -- Atticus

Sometimes, strength is about admitting your weaknesses. Sometimes, power is about owning your comfort zone no matter how small it is. And sometimes, fearlessness is about going on and giving your best - even when you're so terrified you can't stop shaking and your tears are an endless flow of white hot shame on a face you wish you could hide for the rest of forever.

Sometimes, it's about having the will to keep going anyway. Other times, it's about having the courage to ask for help when you need it - no matter how embarrassed or ashamed or afraid it makes you to do it.

Even if it's out there where everyone can see. Even if it's ugly. Even if it might be misunderstood by strangers who don't and can't truly know the whole story. Even if it opens the door to being attacked by those who will judge and disapprove and lash out in rage or hurt or fear of their own.

Because sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures, and that's just the cold hard truth of life as a human. It's why sticking together means so much to us as humans in the first place - because there's truth in the concept of "strength in numbers." One person alone may not be strong at all ... but a hundred can be, and a thousand can be even more.

The last post I wrote here was written at the end of my monthly cycle of PMDD induced depression, and I'm sorry that this post isn't coming from much of a better place. I'm trying, but this blog is my reality - not only as an author trying to build a platform, but as a woman and a mother living with devastating mental illnesses, trying to survive in a world where stigma is very much alive and sometimes there really is nowhere to turn. I'm stepping up my therapy, and seriously debating adding medication despite my fear of doing so. I invite you to stick around; today I may be struggling but I won't always be, and when I'm doing well again, I'll show you more of why people seem to think I'm so strong, and why I've so firmly embraced the word "undaunted."

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And as always, whether you're a first time reader or a long-time loyal follower ... from the bottom of my heart, thank you for being here.