Strength. There’s physical strength and then there’s the emotional or mental kind. It’s an interesting attribute, isn’t it? I’ve had a lot of time over the last 23 months to think about my inner strength.
For a long time after my parents died and even now sometimes, people say to me “you’re so being so strong”, “I can’t believe how strong you are”, “I admire your strength” and it makes me wonder where it comes from. I think we all have it, to some degree. What we choose to do with it, that’s a different story.
When I think back to those first few days after I found out my parents were gone, I was conscious of having to make a choice. If I didn’t get out of bed, eat, take a shower, put on make-up, go to work, participate, stand around the water cooler and discuss last night’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy with my co-workers, go out and be alive, etc., etc., what was the alternative?!? For me, the alternative was to curl up in a little ball and sleep my days away. After all, I was in a nightmare. I have never hurt so much before in my life, but I knew well enough to NOT let myself go; that I HAD to keep putting one foot in front of the other….slowly, unsteadily, but steadfastly. I HAD to simply take each minute as it came and just breathe as deeply as I could to prevent myself from breaking a part. I had to keep it together for my new marriage and my younger sister. I had to dig deep down and be as strong as I had ever been before.
I know for sure that the way we each deal with tragedy and loss is different for everyone and there is no right or wrong way to handle it. The waves of emotions are constricting, substantial and very very real.
One of my greatest escapes during those first few days and weeks (besides many glasses of wine) was TV and I think it was during this time period that I really got hooked on the TV show One Tree Hill. At one point my sister had all of the seasons on DVD and we would watch them together back-to-back-to-back. In the episode entitled Things I Forgot At Birth, this passage really spoke to me:
There are moments in our lives when we find ourselves at a crossroad, afraid, confused, without a road map. The choices we make in those moments can define the rest of our days. Of course when faced with the unknown, most of us prefer to turn around and go back. But once in a while, people push on to something better, something found just beyond the pain of going it alone, and just beyond the bravery and courage it takes to let someone in, or give someone a second chance, something beyond the quiet persistence of a dream. Because it’s only when you’re tested, that you discover who you are, that you discover who you can be. The person you can be does exist, beyond the hard work, faith, belief, and beyond the heartache, and fear of what lies ahead. – Season 4, Episode #402, Things I Forgot At Birth, Voice over by Lucas Scott (Chad Michael Murray)
I don’t remember the specifics of the episode now, but the message of being tested in order to discover who you are and who you can be was very profound at the time and still is today. I have most definitely been tested in my life and while I feel like I am still discovering who I am and who I want to be, I believe I’m on the right track.
I hope that I am able to teach you how to be strong in your darkest hours and that you always choose to press on and move forward, good days and bad.
The best is yet to be.