I’m sick of people telling me that what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger. I know that their intentions are genuinely good, but it’s such a fallacy.
I’ve been through enough adversity in my life to know that what doesn’t kill you doesn’t make you stronger. Being strong makes you stronger. In the depths of my depression, after years of self mutilation and hatred, after being sexually assaulted, after a physically and mentally abusive relationship with a guy that made me feel worth less than the tissue he blew his nose with – I wasn’t strong. I was so weak. I was a hollow shell of a human that felt nothing but emptiness and pain. I remember crying and praying to a God I didn’t even believe in to end my life because I didn’t have the courage to do it myself.
Surviving those things didn’t make me stronger – figuratively slapping myself in the face and snapping the hell out of it did.
Making a conscious decision to step up, suck it up, and be strong made me stronger.
When I finally lifted my head, looked in the mirror, and realized I had no clue who was looking back at me, it was obvious that something had to change. Freeing myself from the arms of depression and pulling myself out of the black abyss is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but doing it gave me strength. It’s easy to feel sorry for yourself and mope around being a victim. What’s hard is finding the courage to let it empower you. To look your demons in the eye and sleigh them. To pick up the pieces and move on in a better direction.
Since my initial return to sanity, I’ve been tested quite a few times. My grandparents passed away during an extremely vulnerable time in my life, I found out I was pregnant when I was twenty despite using protection, I went through a complicated breakup with my daughter’s father about a year and a half ago, and now that life has finally calmed down and things are going extremely well, I received some really shitty life-altering financial news. And it’s exhausting, after so much crap has happened, to stay positive. But being strong isn’t supposed to be easy, and strength is not given to you by merely surviving. Instead, inner strength is a muscle you have to constantly exercise and build. When you lift weights, your muscles suffer tiny rips and tears and they rebuild themselves a little stronger each time they heal.
That’s how people are, too. Some days, a particular muscle may be so sore you don’t want to lift a single solitary thing with it, but when you somehow push through and use it anyway, that’s when it becomes stronger. Strength isn’t something you’re given. It’s something you build up by using everyday so when you need to, you can kick ass with it. You build up your mental muscles so when a heavy burden is placed on your shoulders, you don’t throw your back out trying to lift it. When you’re already strong, you can pick that shit up and hurl it off into the distance, then walk away just the tiniest bit stronger than you were before. I have no clue what I’m going to do right now in my current situation, but I’m not going to panic. I’m not going to question why life sucks so much sometimes, or why bad things keep happening.
I won’t whine or dwell or allow myself to feel even an ounce of self pity. I’m going to breathe and think and strategize. I’ll figure out how to survive, then start rebuilding. And it sucks, but I know I’m strong enough to overcome this and whatever else life throws at me – not because I’m inherently strong, but because I’ve worked at it. And like my muscles after a workout, I will walk away tomorrow ever so slightly stronger than I was yesterday.