- When you are strong, you get things done. Through grit and determination, you meet goals that others said were impossible. (Yup, I started law school as a single mother of three, ended as a married mother of four. And I still passed the bar exam the first time.)
- When you are strong, others lean on you. If you are on a team with people who are not strong performers, they let you do more than your share and no one notices that they didn’t carry their own weight. (Yup, but I’m afraid to tell my teammates that I noticed their lack of performance. I did more than my share just so that the psychological beatings for all of us would lessen, if you know what I mean.)
- You are given harder projects because others see you can do it! Mostly, means I’m doing two people’s work. (This was true in previous jobs and in my home life. Bonus!)
- When the tough gets going, you go it alone. (After all, everyone knows you can do it. They didn’t sign up for something that, so what did you expect?)
- The best way to motivate you is to tell you that you can’t do it! (Your doubts are set aside as your determination doubles.)
- When you can’t handle things, others get scared (Because you are supposed to be super-human. If you can’t handle it, then they know they are in trouble.) and try to extricate themselves rather than offer to help.
- When you speak your truth and it reveals your pain, people don’t believe you. They make excuses for you and figure you’re just having a bad day. (Because, after all, you seem to have no problems; that can’t be the way you REALLY feel.)
- You take responsibility for everything that happens, only to find that not everything is within your control. After all, those around you are responsible for their actions, not you. (Yup, your feelings can still be hurt, even when you take care of yourself. The only other option is to never let other people into your world.)
- Weak people want to be near you, knowing that you will shoulder their burdens too. (Ex-husband proved this to me.)
- Strong people want to be near you because they know you are low-maintenance. They don’t have to be strong for you because you obviously can be strong enough for everyone. (Vacation for them – even when it isn’t a vacation for you.)
- Other strong people respect you because they know just how much it takes. (And you respect them in return.)
- People think it’s okay to hurt your feelings because they know that you are mature enough that you will come to peace with what happened. (Yes, but then what? Trust comes harder and harder.)
Rather than feel victimized by those around me, I see that I am a victim of my own strength. I have led others astray, and they feel that I am always okay with whatever they do (or don’t do). After all, I always soldier on. I always fall into line. I always excuse insensitive behavior by showing that it doesn’t matter – they can’t hurt me. Yet they can, and do. So why do I feel apologetic for a moment in which I feel very human?
My mother was strong this way, but different. Ditto for my daughters. How do we break loose from being so strong that we are unwilling to ask that our unfulfilled needs be met?