survival of the strongest

flame

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”  ― Albert Camus

They say whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I used to subscribe to that notion, but now I’m not so sure.

I know plenty of people who have gone through difficult times in their lives. Some have handled those trials brilliantly, showing more resilience and strength of character than I thought possible. With others, I watched carefully constructed façades begin to crack and crumble.

The people that I know who suffered a blow but stood tall, that refused to break in the face of sorrow, of loss, of pain- these people did not just become strong because they were dealt a crappy hand.

They didn’t simply bluff their way through the rough times. They did not blame the dealer for their problems. The strong ones refuse to fold because they choose to hold out hope that things will get better. They have an impossibly persistent fire in their soul, a wonderfully gritty determination to continue, to persevere.

You do not magically, mystically gain strength because you are faced with a challenge. You are either made of the resilient stuff, or you’re not.

If you get in a car accident and walk away from the wreckage, that doesn’t make you any less breakable the next time you get behind the wheel. A broken heart, the worst one you’ve ever had, does not make the next one hurt less. Losing a loved one, no matter how devastating it is, does not diminish the grief you feel at the next funeral you attend.

The things that don’t kill you do not make you stronger- they show you what you’re already made of.

That car accident might make you more careful in the driver’s seat. That broken heart may teach you how to forgive and forget and try again. That loss may show you that no matter how painful absence can be, life goes on.

But these things do not suddenly imbue us with strength, and to say that they do is almost insulting. We do not get the strength to continue from our tragedies. We turn inward, we dig deep, we search desperately for the tiny spark within us that refuses to quit. We either find it and rise from the depths or we let the flame extinguish and never quite recover.

I know some incredibly strong people who are still burning brightly, and some who have let the light go out. The ones who have persevered have done so time and time again. The ones who have given up have done the same.

Don’t listen when you are told that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. You are not persisting because of your hardships; you are persisting in spite of them. What doesn’t kill you hurts, and stings, and chews you up and spits you back out to see if you have what it takes just to keep breathing.

But somewhere deep down in there, you have the strength to continue. And if you’re made of the right stuff, you always will.

skeletons. 

so you want my secret-
the one nobody knows,
the one that let me live
and love and grow-
even after the hell I t.r.a.v.e.l.e.d. through?
I must protect the [little]
left of my heart
but here’s a hint:

whatever
else you do,
if there are skeletons in your closet,
make them dance for you. 

spit it out.

FullSizeRender (1)“We must be careful what we pretend to be.” -Kurt Vonnegut

How many times have you sat across the table, or in the passenger seat, or on the phone, and been screaming the exact words you want to say in your head but for some reason just been unable to get them to come out of your mouth?

I’ve always been a vocal person (my parents will tell you I started talking one day and never stopped). I raised my hand in class. I tried to be honest when my friends asked for my opinions or advice (and sometimes when they didn’t ask). I’ve told off more than a few people who I thought deserved it.

So why are there those times when I know exactly what I want to say, but seem incapable of speaking? And why do those always seem to be the most important moments, the ones in which the future of my life hangs on what is said next?

Is it because the things and feelings that matter most can’t really be put into words, even when you think they can? Because the words that get caught in your throat, come from your heart. Because sometimes the truth is easy, but more often than not it is cold, harsh, and hard.

But in the long run, the truth is kinder when it is given sooner. Honesty is the best policy, right? Even when it’s the hardest. And it’s so much crueler to allow others, and yourself, to live in a lie when all you have to do is open your mouth. So why is it so difficult to just spit it out?

I have so much respect for the people who speak their truth, who force those difficult words from their core and through their lips and out into the world. Those people across the table, and on the other end of the line, and in the passenger seat who bite the bullet and just say it:

“This isn’t working and it hasn’t been for a while.”
“I just can’t do it anymore.”
“I need help.”
“I still miss you.”
“I love you.”
“I’m here for you.”
“I’m leaving.”
“I’m sorry.”

I have tried so hard to be one of those people. The older you get, the harder the conversations become- the more permanent the outcomes and the more hurtful the truths. But if you’ve ever felt like you’ve been on the other side of the scenario, you know how much worse it is to postpone the inevitable.

So I will keep striving to be one of those people, to come right out and speak my truth. Because the lesson I come back to over and over again is: life’s way too short. Too short for lies, too short for omissions, too short for regret.

Too short to waste another moment biting your tongue for anyone else.

Stop all of this stupid guessing and hinting at and casually dancing (and texting) around the subject. Here’s to honesty- to being blunt but not rude, truthful but not harsh, and quick but not hasty.

Here’s to a much happier way of life.