Some years back, I tripped and fell. It was the hardest whack I’d ever experienced and while I didn’t hear a crunch, I knew I was hurt. It stunned me, not the falling down part because let’s face it, your girl can be gravity-deficient. No, the part that stunned me the most was the immense pain shooting from my ankle. It was like fire and fury got together and had themselves a step off in my honor.
I sat there in pain. I remember my people asking if I was alright and for their sake, I nodded. For their sake, I tabled fire and fury and forced a weak smile. For their sake, I cracked a joke. They breathed in relief. She’s good. All was good. Except it wasn’t.
See, although I had wobbled to my feet, I felt like I was still splayed out on the floor—ankle turned, blinking away embarrassment, sucking in pain to bolster the superwoman façade I let myself, and others, swaddle me in. I was hurting and I hid.
I hurt and I hid. Two powerful revelations shrouded in one crushing truth: even in agony, I still take a backseat to what others think. Even in my greatest need for help, I still act as though I’m fine.
Instinct. Defense-mechanism. Upbringing. Culture. I called it everything except what it was: me denying me the chance to be human. After all this time, I still saw pain as something to hide, as something to deny, or worse as a weakness. And what is weakness if not feelings of failure, embarrassment and smallness rolled into one? But there is one good thing about it that cannot be denied: it begets strength.
The kind that whiffs of granddad’s recipe for unbreakable spirit and endurance. The kind whose embers flicker with granny’s secrets to staring down mountains with the wisdom and wit of the thousands of women before her. This is strength.
You learn to crawl through the valley until you’re strong enough to gain your footing. You learn to breathe slow and steady when the air is knocked out of your lungs. You learn to mute the what ifs and savor the salve of hope. It’s you running toward your Goliath and realizing for the first time, it never had a chance. Not then, not now.
This is the beauty of strength born from weakness. It attests that pain isn’t something to be denied, hidden or feel ashamed about. It reminds us that weakness does not have to lead to apathy, silence or paralysis. Instead, it can bring about growth and healing.
Lovelies, don’t hide your pain. Don’t let embarrassment or fear of what some will think bully you into silence. Speak up. Even in hard moments ripe with despair, you can turn your wounds into wisdom. You can receive the strength you need to make it another day. Where there’s strength, there’s hope and when there is hope, anything is possible.