Have you ever known someone who is very good about keeping composed, and holding everything together? Some people always seem to be the strong presence in difficult situations. You wonder how they manage at times. I have been this person most of my adult life. I don’t let on that I am struggling. I make a joke to try to lighten their mood (or mine). When my mother died, I showed very little emotion outside of the funeral. At the time, my ex husband was living in New Mexico, and I was alone with 3 children in Kansas. Our family dog had died the previous day, and it was also the week of Thanksgiving. It was a really crappy week! After the funeral, I had to be the strong one for my kids, and hold it together. I didn’t want them to be afraid if their mama was upset. I didn’t feel that I could let my children or my co-workers know how much I was hurting. In fact, the day after my mother died, I went to work, and only told two people what had happened! I just didn’t want to let on to anyone that I was hurting or afraid, and I taught my class that day without ever letting on that anything was wrong. I couldn’t fall apart.
I’ve been there to support friends, co-workers, and a few family members if they’ve needed me. Or, I’ve been supportive of them in their goals, dreams, educations, careers, relationships, raising kids, etc……just being there……being a friend. One thing I’m not good at though, is asking for help or support when I need it. It’s very hard. It makes me feel selfish. It embarrasses me.
This week, I had a moment that I’ve always considered “weak” for me. I was in my classroom with a colleague after school, talking about school things. The conversation turned to something personal, and I fell apart! I burst into tears. I sobbed. I think my friend/colleague was surprised because she hadn’t seen me that upset before. Everything I’ve been dealing with caught up with me, and no matter how many positive posts I put on social media to try to keep my spirits up, I just couldn’t hold it together at that moment. I was tired. I was hurting. I was tired of being strong. During the conversation, another friend came in, and they sat there with me, letting me vent and cry, while they hugged me, and told me it was okay to lean on them, and that everyone needs to feel safe enough to do that sometimes. Things have been very hard for me lately, and I guess my emotions were like a pressure cooker. While I have the best husband/friend in the world, I guess I needed to know that I can also lean on someone else for support sometimes. Al is still, and always will be my ROCK.
Of course, at the end of the conversation, my friends and I hugged again, and being me, I had to make a silly joke to make everyone laugh! One of the friends said that it never fails….Lauri will always try to cheer someone up, even through her own tears. She said it was a “gift.” I have never thought of it like that. I do believe that the cure to a lot of painful situations is laughter, but I never realized that my sarcasm or self deprecating humor was a gift. That was nice to hear.
I have learned that it’s okay to lean on others. I will still struggle with it, because it’s just not like me to show that type of emotion very often, but I know it’s okay, and no one will think I’m weak for doing so. I’ve also learned through this health issue who really cares about me (for those who know the specifics….for others, I am not really ready to talk about it much yet, but I will at some point). Phone calls, texts, emails, prayers, good vibes………it’s meant the world to me. It’s been a huge struggle for me, and it’s nice to know that I don’t always have to be the strong one all the time. I have people in my life who love me, and really do care. They’ve shown me.
So even though sadness is a part of life, it can be a positive experience in that you learn who you can trust, and who truly cares and will be there for you. They make you realize you aren’t alone. They make it okay to not always be the strong one for everyone else’s sake. They make it okay to be “weak” sometimes.