Strong starts on the inside.

“You have to be strong. You have to hold it together.” These and so many others seem to be pet phrases when someone encounters a difficult time in their life. And this is exactly what I have done. I have not only learned to be strong but I have also trained my body to be stronger and faster than ever before. Things are good. I have my husband and 3 children, my house, my business. Life is beautiful. However, there comes a time when you have to acknowledge that not everything is as it seems. We live in a world where everything revolves around perfection-looks, kids, homes, relationships. People don’t want to see *not pretty.* We’ve been trained- almost brainwashed- into hiding our troubles, our hurts, our scars. We’ve been taught to keep things nearly in place, our faces flawlessly contoured, our wardrobe hip and stylish, our hair oh-so-chic, our families happy and well cared for. But those nagging thoughts and those tears that threaten to fall are all but forbidden. When we make the mistake of letting our smile slip away and let our guard down, the reactions of those around us can range from a simple look in the other direction to bring labeled as unstable and crazy. So rather than address the underlying problem, we continue to cover it up. We can be strong on the outside and still have a crippled spirit, wounded and damaged from our pasts. Much like an injury that causes internal bleeding, our hurts are deep and invisible externally while inside our very life is hemorrhaging into our body cavities. No one can live like this.

My scars and hurts are deep. While my brain has spared me from remembering many of the things that have hurt me, I still relive more of them than I’d like. Some of these hurts were physical but the majority were emotional and while physical wounds heal with time, emotional wounds take much longer and often just get buried under happy memories in an attempt to pretend they don’t exist. There are words that have haunted me for years. Even when I am not actively thinking about them, they affect my view of myself and life in general. Things like “I hope you die,” “God makes mistakes and you are one of them,” and “If you’d do —, you’d be prettier.” Then there are the friends I have lost and I berate myself for turning yet another person against me without knowing it. I have tried to change myself to fit in. I have bent over backward to help people who are really just taking advantage of my kindness. I have been burned out and fighting to keep up an image of composure and strength is exhausting. So while my body has become strong, my spirit has remained wounded.The realization hit me this year that STRONG STARTS ON THE INSIDE. I have taken up writing on my mirror reminding myself of things just like this. As I look back at the “friends” I have lost, I am learning to see just how good it was for them to leave. There were the users, the haters, the underhanded judges, and the leaches (and probably more than I just can’t come up with witty names for.) My life was sucked out as I tried to make these people happy rather than search for godly friends who would help my spirit heal and grow. I have come to learn that I cannot depend on those around me to be what I need. What I have been needing for a long time is a hero. I remember talking to a close friend recently and her words were these: sometimes you have to be your own hero. How true! (And yes, that one is on my mirror in deliciously perfect red lipstick.)

To those who have used me: while you have made me regret not seeing the shallowness of your friendship, I have not lost my spirit of kindness and giving.

To those who have hated me and tried to control my actions and decisions by chiding, scolding, or withholding friendship: I have learned that I do not need your approval and I most certainly do not need you in my life. I aught to thank you for leaving. You did me a favor. My spirit was not strong enough to walk away, to cut away the abscess that you were in my life. Yes, losing another “friend” was hard on me, it took me one step closer to healing. It ripped open an old wound that was in dire need of cleansing. The pain was there but healing followed.

To those who are unwilling to grow with me and help me see my full potential: I have nothing more to say to you than goodbye.

To the words that hurt me so deeply: I am enough. I am beautiful. I am strong and I am brave. God never makes a mistake and He has a plan for me that no one could possibly imagine. My life, my hopes, my spirit, my dreams and aspirations are not an accident or a mistake. I do not have to be perfect, be “ON” all the time. My beauty exists in my flaws. They are what make me unique. But even more so is my determination to soar above it all and my drive that pushes me to pick myself back up off the ground time and time again.

Strong starts on the outside and until I see otherwise, I will continue to be my own hero. Change yourself~change the world.

~

Photo credit: Jeremy Meier, Meier Photography
Photo credit: Jeremy Meier, Meier Photography