My family’s story began in a very dark place. And it remained there for most of my childhood. If you look at us, you would never guess the nights that defined a part of the grand and complex picture that frames us now.
Through all of that, my mother, (that woman who battles illnesses and unimaginable heartache in every stage of her life) found strength in making people laugh and giving her love to everyone.
But in those cold moments, she stored her strength by hiding her pain and masking it and working harder and loving harder. And so, she passed this on to her daughters.
Though we didn’t always know the specifics or the cause, we could always see through her masks and into her pain as far as we could remember. It isn’t the healthiest way to cope, but it is one that became ingrained within us.
As we are growing and finding who we are by being faced with how we act within difficult situations, we see that we cannot continue this way. Our family cannot.
You see, what we are learning…is that strength is not how much pain you can bear on your own or how skillfully you can hide each soul-twisting difficulty, true strength is knowing yourself. Knowing when to say that you have reached your limit for the day, for the moment, for the second, and that you need a helping hand and shoulder to cry on.
True strength is disarming yourself of mistrust and thrusting your vulnerability in the arms of those who love you, giving them the chance to prove your doubts wrong.
True strength, my friends, is fully understanding that you cannot do this alone. And that’s okay. Because we are not hermit creatures that are meant to thrive on isolated islands.
We find strength in each other. Every situation that shapes us, every conversation that reveals us. This kind of strength is far less attractive and far less easy to digest. But man, that is what makes it so true and so much more rich.
My family’s story is still being written, and it will not get easier. But I know now more than ever that we have no control over where things land, but everything does happen for a reason.