For the last two weeks I have been working on a painting with my teacher called Apothecary:From Tragedies to Remedies and it has really brought me into my stories again, and while I have worked many of these and turned them into medicine it is always valuable to look at our stories even those we have worked and no longer take center stage in our lives and our decision from an observers perspective. Because there is more wisdom to be had.
One of the themes that has come out of my tragedies is strength. And while that may seem to be a good thing to be strong, and it is; trust me I consider it a gift, there are also parts of being strong that are not so great. First, I began to question, am I really strong, underneath it all? Or is strength an external trait that was given to me? Is it really my story? I was told I was strong for as long as I can remember by everyone around me. And so my reaction to the hard stuff from a really early age was one that on the outside looked like strength, but really it was just a natural survival mechanism, and on the inside in many cases there was a very scared little girl in there. And very often, there still is.
There I said it.
Here is the thing about being strong; it is very difficult to also be vulnerable, to ask for help. And over time people begin to assume you don't need it, or in my case when I am not "strong" people around me have no idea how to handle it or me. I have many stories of being in vulnerable moments and people actually getting upset with me for it. Maybe because they figured if I had a hot mess moment, shit must really be real.
I won't get into the rollercoaster relationship with my father, but when he died we had been estranged for about five years. At the funeral, people whom he had become close with tried to comfort me by telling me, he told us he wasn't in your life because you are strong and you didn't need him, he just causes hurt and chaos. While the hurt and chaos was a real thing, the fact is I NEEDED HIM regardless of that.
This week I have pondered over situations where I could have really used some help but didn't ask for it. Yet, NO ONE (except for close family and maybe one friend) offered it either. It is really making me question whether I am surrounding myself with people who are so wrapped up in themselves they don't care, or if it is because I put up so much STRONG armor that even in my toughest times and darkest moments that people really, truly don't think I need it.
But then as I have mentioned before, our mind likes to base its decisions on past evidence, and I have some "evidence" that when I do ask for help, it kind of gets blown off. I remember sitting in a circle and asking for support because I was a hot mess, and the response I got was "if that is what your hot mess looks like, you are doing pretty good." Well, I am here to tell you no one's hot mess is any better or worse than yours, it is for them what it is in the moment. And I was for ME a mess on the inside.
So I am of course sitting with how can I be more vulnerable? Ask for help more often and be open to receiving that help. And for you "strong" women I ask you to do the same.
But I also ask that for the rest of you, don't assume because you think a woman is strong (and she likely is) that she doesn't ever need help. Remember that for her asking for help is very, very difficult. Pay attention, listen, witness, and above all, whether you think she needs it or not, reach out, ask if she needs anything. She may say no, but she may say yes. And that is where the work for us STRONG women is, even saying yes when asked can be difficult.
Don't let her off the hook, help her anyway.
I would love to hear your stories of strength, how comfortable are you asking for help. What miracles and transformations have happened when you asked for help and received it?
And by the way, I am fine, I don't need any help....lol.