I know this is a really weird topic to blog about, but this week in my life it is a topic which has been paramount. I have not been having the best time of it this past few months. Family, health issues, major stress and stuff going on in my personal life that have added up to an exhausting daily routine. I have reached breaking point many times. So no one knows more than me about the human spirit and it’s ability to be strong. My determination to always carry on and try to hold it all together.
I didn’t have the best start in life but I have always been a tough person who never stays down for long, so it really got me thinking when a few groups I am in started discussing the topic of strong women – weirdly, I have never seen the same topic in regards to men, but that would be an entirely different post. The basis of these discussions was very negative and really, as someone with strong feelings on human emotion… I had to have my say in a healthy way. Rather than a social media argument over whether Brenda was strong for staying with a bipolar husband for ten years, I felt a more rounded opinion was necessary to express.
To add to that, a couple of reviews on my earlier Carrero books, hinted that Emma from Books 1-3 of Carrero was weak, and I have had same said of Rose on the Just Rose book. I also noted on reviews from various readers on Goodreads, the topic of ‘strength’ seems to be common in what they look for in certain characters – usually the women. And the perception of what makes a person strong, varies greatly. It always seems to be used in a negative light.
Through my life I have known women labelled ‘weak’ by other women and it got me to thinking about it in a more generalised way. Why people are so judgmental on something that is as subjective as the very books we write.
According to google – the definition of being strong is as follows….
‘In some cases, being strong is simply about being able to persevere through extreme adversity. It can be something horrific like the tragic loss of a loved one, or something difficult and trying like getting laid off. It can also be emotional trauma, like recovering from a divorce or a tough break up.’
And being emotionally strong ….
‘To be emotionally strong is firstly, to know and recognize your emotions when you feel them and secondly, to not let it get the better of you. … And as time passes by, as you gain experience of thinking practically in an emotionally overwhelming situation, you keep growing as an emotionally strong/ stable person.’
Then we have mentally strong …
‘Most successful people have one trait in common: they are strong–minded. Someone with a strong mind is mentally tough and resolute about their ideals, but they aren’t too stubborn to grow and adapt to new situations, either.’
Now to me, being strong is not as easy as writing a list or setting out examples of strength. It’s different for every situation and soul and I have pondered the harsh critic on the lady Emma, and her girl Rose a few times. About exactly what it is about those characters that was identified as weak. I myself did not write them that way, both are fiercely independent and self sufficient in their own ways and yet despite whatever reasoning within their plot, they were brave enough to give fully to another human. They had the strength to trust, change their lives and earn themselves a Happy Ever After.
What I discovered about peoples opinion was more of a ‘they don’t act how I would act’ mentality or ‘she didn’t do it alone’. This weird idea that women are only strong if they never let a man act as support, or if they never show vulnerability.
It seems there is some unwritten rule among the more ‘single minded’ of today that unless you are a singleton with a successful career, mortgage, perfect life and bitchy attitude towards everyone – you are merely not strong! That you cannot value traditions such as happy marriage, the role of housewife or mother, or anything another judgy person deems to be ‘society brainwashing’ and yet have value as a person who is mentally, emotionally capable. That if you stay with someone who needs patience and support… you are a weak woman.
I would say self absorbed and selfish sounds more apt for the women accusing compassion and love, of weakness, but I’m not one to judge LOL.
You can be a stay at home mum, who loves to bake and please her husband, happily married with no major ambition outside of seeing your kids thrive … and still be strong. In fact you can be completely content and fulfilled too. Only a real woman could find that sense of happiness and commit to it wholeheartedly.
What do I deem strong ?
Learning to trust another human after living through horrendous heartbreak.
Getting up and drying your eyes after falling apart and taking another step.
Forgiving those who wronged you because you don’t want to carry that burden, while still cutting them out of your life.
Putting yourself out there, even when sick with fear.
Following your dreams no matter what.
Putting others first in times when you yourself need someone.
Admitting when you need help and asking for it.
Overcoming all that should hold you down and never letting it.
Allowing your heart to feel, no matter how many times it’s been broken.
Building others up even when your own self esteem is gone.
Putting yourself first. Saving yourself.
The list is endless……
According to Psychology today , these are the basic traits of strength.
Emotionally strong people….
- are less discouraged by setbacks and disappointments.
- are more adaptable to change.
- are able to recognize and express their needs.
- focus on getting around a hurdle rather than on the hurdle itself.
- can learn from mistakes and criticism.
- tend to see the larger perspective in a challenging situation.
- are able to recover more quickly from emotional wounds such as failure or rejection.’
We have our own levels and ladders to navigate. No mention of you know – leaving men , going it alone, or never crying your eyes out.
That child who cried and overcame abuse, to then fall in love within a healthy relationship and become a loving mother – she wasn’t saved… she was strong.
That bruised woman who overcame her insecurity formed by bullies, who then came to succeed at a dream no one believed in – that is strong.
That mother whose sick child drains her to exhaustion every day and yet gets up and with tenderness continues to care indefinitely – that is strong.
That little voice who speaks out for others, even when hit with backlash and ridicule – that is strong.
What I do know for certain is one thing. Deciding if someone else is strong or weak, is not your business. Until you walk their path, feel what they feel, know how many times they have bounced back since birth… then keep your opinions to yourself. We all have our own battles and demons, we all fight in our own ways. Who gave you the right to determine someones strength based on the very little you may know about them?
You know what is not strong ? Tearing down another human who does not meet your ideal and shaming them for it. Making judgement on half-assed facts and no comprehension that there is no ‘one way’ to do things in life. Thinking your decisions are superior to the person whose life it is you are judging. Feeling like you have a right to publicly air and label people because it’s not to your standard.
Ironically – That’s the weakest thing I have ever seen!