I am strong even when I do not feel strong
In the thick of my grief in 2017, I found myself floating through most days with incredibly limited brain power. I never felt like I could find my focus and half my mind was always on the ones I had recently lost.
Watching someone succumb to cancer is torturous. But watching my dad, truly the most strong-willed human I’ve ever interacted with in my life, was particularly awful. At his funeral, his best friend said that if you could will your way out of cancer, my dad would still be here, and I couldn’t agree more.
When things took a turn for the worse, my dad spent more and more time on the couch in my childhood home. Even simple acts like walking to the kitchen for a glass of water became monumental journeys for his cancer-stricken body.
For months after I lost my dad, every morning that my body continued to work felt like a tiny celebration. My eyes whipped right open, my hand immediately lifted to stop my blaring alarm, and my legs swung effortlessly over the side of my bed and carried me into my day - all of this without an active thought or any extra effort. My body just kept chugging along, doing exactly what it was meant to do. And from this, I also found that so much of my perceived weakness existed entirely in my brain. As I wept on the elliptical at the gym and my muscles tried to protest, I reminded myself of the tiny celebration that everything was moving as it should. All I had to do was get out of my own way.
So, my favorite mantra was born. It’s something I find myself repeating often when I come up against a challenge, physical or otherwise, and it brings with it a boost of purposeful energy.
I am strong, even when I do not feel strong.
Even when I feel empty, I have more to give.
It’s my personal five second rule. It’s my reminder that my body is cooperating and that’s not a right or a guarantee. It’s a reminder that I create my own strength; a reminder that I have looked nightmares in the eye and lived through them. It’s a reminder that things can be hard but they can also be harder and the only control I have over them is my perception. It’s a reminder that I am in the arena of life and even when I’ve been knocked to the ground by a cheap shot and I can’t seem to find a way to stand back up, that there is always a way. I am strong, even when I do not feel strong. Even when I feel like I have nothing left to give, I can find a second or third or hundredth wind to push me forward again.