I didn’t become “strong” because I wanted to; I became strong because I had to.
A woman I admire on Instagram, Jamie Lee Finch, said something today that hit me in the feels.
“I told my therapist this week that if I’m never called “strong” again for the rest of my life it will be too soon. “Strong” isn’t a personality trait you choose, it chooses you. I didn’t become “strong” because I wanted to; I became strong because I had to. And every time someone I don’t know expects me to be strong for their benefit or entertainment — or just doesn’t let me be anything else — I feel overwhelmed, unseen, and alone.”
In short, we didn’t choose this shit. This shit chose us.
Last week, I watched a tear jerking movie with Susan Sarandon & Kate Winslet. Susan Sarandon is dying. She says to her daughters, “I raised you to be strong women”. One daughter replies…”You didn’t raise us to be strong. You raised us not to inconvenience you with our weakness.”
And this is how it can feel when special needs parents are praised for being “soooo strong”. We didn’t choose this shit. This shit chose us. We’re not strong. We’re weathered. Pressure pushed us from all sides and a mountain erupted.
We ask for help.
Sometimes, we retreat.
But mostly, we fight.
And we fight.
And we fight.
For the last few weeks, I’ve been supporting a Rett mom who lost her baby. I told her the same thing I tell every Rett parent:
This doesn’t get easier. You just get better at doing it.
Yet, in light of all this, I do feel strong. It’s just not the kind of strong I think people mean when they praise me for being so. Special needs moms have the stress hormone levels of combat soldiers. Except we do it FOREVER and the combat never ends.
We are battle-hardened warfighters.