Doesn’t happen overnight but you turn around
And a month’s gone by and you realize you haven’t cried
… I’m busy getting stronger
~ Sara Evans, A Little Bit Stronger
You’re not helpless! My mom would say when I hesitated or balked about doing something intimidating to me, like mowing the lawn. Despite her affirmation, I questioned in the tiniest corner of my mind if perhaps I WAS helpless, unable to do important, practical things on my own.
I believe it would be more accurate to say I was afraid of not doing the task well or afraid of criticism for being UNSURE of HOW to do it. I felt the same way about mopping the floors at Kentucky Fried Chicken (first job). The girls who worked in the back for the night were expected to mop the cooking and packaging area at closing. I always felt awkward managing the sloshing bucket, industrial mop and grease-caked tile. I’m sure I would have become better with practice, but I’m sorry to say, I took the easy way out. I batted my eyes and got one of the guys to do it for me.
I’m Not Helpless. I’m Married.
Despite my success in college and fearlessness when it came to meeting new people and exploring new places, I felt I needed someone to do the things I was not comfortable with, like: financial planning, home maintenance, intellectual jousting and taking charge. Enter my former husband, a powerhouse recruit. He fulfilled all of the requirements and he was cute;) I admired his confidence. I was grateful for his expertise. I did not have to worry about getting things done. I had him on my team. Wink, wink, would you mop the floor for me?
I focused on setting up a home, bonding with family and children, cooking, staying in shape and making friends. My areas of expertise were soft and nebulous rather than authoritative and defined.
Eventually I felt powerless next to the powerhouse. I never felt in charge.
I am not putting blame on my ex-husband for my feelings of weakness. I handed over the keys and eagerly sat in the passenger seat for a long time.
Single and Stronger
It’s been about four months since my husband moved out. I do intimidating tasks every day.
I hesitate before I sign-on to my online brokerage account. I balk before I sit down and figure out why the printer/laptop/internet isn’t working. I cringe when I make housing decisions. I get anxious when I lay down the law with the kids. I worry that I am not on budget. I am both Mom and Dad, head of household, single woman and ex-spouse. And every day I’m a little bit stronger.
It turns out I have a fairly defined independent streak. Most of my strength and energy comes from inside. There is a steady stream of light, ideas and feelings to draw from when my external bravery wavers. I discovered all this while crying in the shower and conducting 4AM rap sessions with myself.
Work With Me Here
The better I knew myself the easier it was to attract like-minded people. Eventually amorphous strengths (rich internal life, appreciation of beauty, curiosity, independent thinking) gained value in my eyes. I learned I wasn’t alone in my perceived weaknesses (lack of authority, need for solitude, fear of overload). Others have the same hesitations. I don’t see them as helpless.
I have so many remarkable friends, family, contacts, resources, etc. to help with tasks I can’t manage by myself. They work with me instead of doing everything for me. I do my best to lend them my strength when needed.
The other day a friend came over to help me with some work around the house. He brought his power tools. As we walked down the stairs, I asked him if he was going to use the drill to put everything together. He said, No I’m going to have YOU use the drill. I did. I didn’t hesitate. I could feel his confidence in me. I didn’t feel helpless at all. I felt empowered.
What is your strength story? Are you stronger than you used to be? What made you pull yourself up by your bootstraps?
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