I was going to post a selfie yesterday. It was a nice selfie. Hair done, smiling, a great shade of lipstick. I’ll probably post it another day, but not that day.
Because yesterday I punched my phone.
I became so enraged when it froze that I literally punched it.
Yesterday I cried at my desk. Three times. It is not the first time this week.
Yesterday was not a very smile-y, great selfie day.
People at my university felt a certain type of way about me. Okay, they found me annoying. I knew that. There was one guy who saw I was having a hard time and decided to “rescue” me or “help” me, whatever made him feel better. He brought me for coffee and encouraged me to open up to him about whatever was troubling me. I started talking to him, and he interjected: “Yeah, sometimes I’m just like, wow Kirsten, you’re annoying!”
Let me tell you, that really made me want to spill my guts.
People felt a way about me until I told them my “testimony,” as the Bible school kids call it. That is, until I detailed for them some of the things that have happened in my life. Not that I have a monopoly on hard times or anything like that, but then their tune changed: I think I understand you a little bit more.
You’re so strong.
I hate that phrase. I really do. People tell me I’m strong, and my first thought is, “Okay, great, but I don’t want to be.” I’m not some special super human strong person. Isn’t everyone strong in their own ways? What does that mean anyway?
You’re so strong because…. I went to work today? I put clothes on? I didn’t punch someone in the face?
Sometimes, I just don’t want to be in a situation where I have to be strong. I know what you’re thinking: That’s life. But, what other choice do I have? Short of not living anymore (totally different subject all on its own), I really have no choice except to be strong, to shoulder this “great” burden, and soldier on. I have no choice but to wake up each morning despite the persistent itch of not caring, the simmering frustration barely contained under my surface.
I try not to think too long about the fact that I am bored, entirely uninterested in completing any task. I can’t call that doctor back and make an appointment for my knees because I just. don’t care.
I didn’t choose whatever thing I am being strong in the midst of. I didn’t choose it or wish it upon myself, so I didn’t choose to be strong, and sometimes I just wish I didn’t have to be. I think everyone can relate: I am so sick and tired of having to muster the strength to get through the day. Aren’t you?
Maybe that’s my own fault, my hatred of being strong. Because I started to think that being strong meant constantly, always having it together. And having it together all the time is exhausting. When people told me “you’re so strong,” what I heard is “You’ve got this, right? Like, you don’t really need me?”
It felt like a cop out. Like, if they said I am strong, then I should be able to be strong. But how can I be strong when I feel so gosh darn empty?
The joke now is “Haha Kirsten, bad things happen to you all the time. Isn’t that hilarious?” This is a joke for me and my closest friends. If you weren’t there, living it with me, then the joke is not for you. Then it becomes: Yes, thank you, I have not forgotten that I had a really bad year. I feel like I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in almost a decade. Hilarious!
I don’t want people to keep telling me about my own trauma. Please stop, you are hurting me.
I have seen various counselors over the years, and I can always see the look they give me. I come into the room, all smiles and cheer, all charisma, as I sit down and say yeah I’ve been feeling really anxious, pretty depressed lately, kind of feels like someone scooped out all my feelings and just threw them in the garbage, yeah I just don’t feel much of anything except for boredom haha how are you? Oh yeah also I have a thing for emotionally unavailable men because I don’t think I’m really deserving of love and nice men give me the heebie-jeebies HAHA!
My defense mechanism is my humour. Just call me Chandler Bing.
The last few weeks have just… I don’t know. Shaken me? Exhausted me? I keep ripping open these old wounds like a scab I can’t stop picking. In the last couple weeks, I’ve had to re-live trauma, and I’m still trying to put it all back in the tidy little boxes where I keep it. The world is scaring me. I am terrified. I am angry. I want to scream from the rooftops, but what can one little voice like mine do? My phone is giving me anxiety again. I’ve never felt this way before, never felt suffocated by people’s access to me.
I used to tell myself “you’ve lived through worse than this before.” Probably the least encouraging mantra ever, but it works. “You’ve lived through worse than this before.” And once I found that thing I thought I’d never make it through, it became “get through this and you can get through anything.”
So this long, rambling post is basically to say, I feel the opposite of strong right now. I could have posted that selfie and pretended everything is fine, but it’s not. I’m so over the perfectly curated life I lead on social media, and I want to be authentic about this.
I don’t feel strong. But I’ve also learned that I don’t have to all the time. I can lean on the people around me, and believe me, I am leaning. I am leaning heavily on them.
Sometimes, strength is sobbing in my car all the way to work because I’m overwhelmed and I have things in my mind that should never have had to be.
Sometimes, strength is re-grieving again and again and again because justice is slow.
Sometimes, strength is only hitting snooze 4 times instead of 5. Or hitting snooze 6 times because my sleep is needed.
Sometimes, strength is putting a full face of makeup on just because.
Sometimes, strength feels a hell of a lot like weakness.