week 52: the strong friend

This time of year, I spy many posts reminding people to check on their strong friend. I don’t really like this prompt for three reasons: 1. If we truly are friends, shouldn’t you be checking for me throughout the year, not just the holiday season? 2. Why do we have a strong friend? Even if it’s a man, he is allowed to be vulnerable, need help or feel weak, right? So why even label him as such? and 3. I am the very recently reformed strong friend.

define strong

I had “friends” that would call me, dump their pain and drama and unhappiness and run off without even a breath of well, enough about me. How are you? Even when I did go to them in need of a listening ear, I got fed with “I know you can handle it”, “you’re the strongest woman I know” or a rebuttal of how my hurdles compare nothing to theirs. And then the conversation is back on them. Seriously?

Yea……………. seriously. I realized that even though I try to be open and vulnerable, some people still perceived me as superhuman and having it all together. Maybe it’s my heavy use of sarcasm. I had to check myself; the energy I thought I gave off was not the same as what was being received. But newsflash: NO ONE has it all together all the time. Duh. No one can do it on her own e v e r y time and no one should have to. Just because someone doesn’t allow her current circumstance consume her or is usually in a genuinely great mood does not mean she has it all together or that she is quote unquote strong. I think we’ve been using the wrong term, y’all; instead, we should be describing the strong friend as self-sufficient, optimistic and astute. Strong, by Google’s definition, is when you can carry in 17 grocery bags in one trip or bench 300. I have never been known to do either.

I shed a little deadweight last year and in 2016. I feel lighter. There are no hard feelings, but I realized I could not go on being a baggage carrier or dumpster. It was draining. I felt used and unappreciated. I also know that they could not be the friends I know I need and deserve. Calling your smart friend strong is like calling a fat girl thick. We gotta stop it! My name actually means strong warrior, but I rebuke this strong label LOL! I mean look at the foremost definitions of the word, you guys. I don’t want this to be what comes to mind when you think of me or any Black woman. We’ve only been labeled strong because we’ve had to come to our own rescue and do things alone that should’ve been accomplished together. We should be leaning on each other. (There’s a song about that.)

I understand;  positivity, creativity, keeping a circle tight and right, journaling, recognizing the good in life and, when necessary, creating a clear path out of a hardship, has made some of us appear strong when we are merely doing the best that we can with what we have. Let’s replace being strong with vulnerability. Accountability. Someone who asks for help. Confidence. Humility. Softness. Kindness. Patience. Putting herself first. Knowing when to let go and move on.

So, if we must give her a title, check on your reliable, sensible friend. And if you are her, check on yourself.

 

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17 thoughts on “week 52: the strong friend

  1. Nice, true, necessary. Everybody needs somebody to hold them up…especially the strong, even though folks generally think we’re vulnerable too. Fragiles get all the love and hand-holding, but just because you’re not crying, whining and falling apart all the time doesn’t mean you don’t need to be checked on. 80/20 is my formula for my circle and where I’m put my energy. 80% of the time I’m positive, setting boundaries, supporting myself, fearlessly making my way in the world and expecting to be surrounded by strength that honors mine, lifts me. 20% percent of the time, I am available to support (or carry) others in some meaningful way.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Your Blog Post resonates with me. In fact I had a similar discussion at the local laundromat with a woman who has a 15year old Son who has Autism. As you know already my brother Stephen also has Autism. As caregivers we can relate to each other. I sensed that She really needed someone who would listen and understand. She shared with me Her struggles not just with her Son but with the education system, Her family who need to take a greater role in helping her, etc..

    Many who are not caregivers make well meaning but stupid statements. We don’t talk about Self care because if you are responsible for a disabled person time for yourself is rare.

    Even if you don’t have a disabled child or sibling eventually if you’re a woman you will be taking care of your parents and grandparents as they get older.

    The young Mother I was speaking with was only in Her 40s but caregivers age also. I’m about to turn 60 next year in February but I’m slowing down. I’m doing my best to deal with my own disabilities which have landed me in the hospital several times since 2008. The aging process is difficult However society expects you to keep going no matter what.

    Anyway here’s the Link to my Post which is a view of Life from the Caregivers position.

    https://dancingpalmtrees.com/2018/12/08/pause-for-thoughts/

    Liked by 3 people

    1. So your self-care may include just having a conversation with someone who gets it, a relief from the well-meaning, stupid statements. I’m glad you’re slowing down and that you realize you can’t come second to yourself.

      Thanks for tuning in and sharing your testimony. I’ll check out your post.

      Like

      1. Thanks. I appreciate you reading my Blogs. My concerns are with that Mother I met at the laundromat. Ours was a chance meeting since ours was a chance and She is in the process of moving. I was glad to be that understanding and listening ear for Her. Unless one has the responsibility of caring for family members with Autism other people don’t get it. Let’s keep the focus on parents and caregivers who struggle to care for their disabled relatives. Laws and policies need to be changed so caregivers do have support.

        Like I said I’m glad that I was there for Her because 99% of People don’t get it so I don’t have those conversations anymore. In the past I got stupid statements like, Is your brother like the character in the movie, Rainman. Therefore I stopped having those discussions. They tend to be fruitless and upsetting. I’m over that. Instead Let’s advocate for Autism Activism.

        Liked by 1 person

          1. I pay no attention to celebrities. In my previous job as a Museum Security Officer I saw plenty of them but their lives are not mine.

            However that working class Mom with an Autistic Son. Her story became my story. Fighting with the City, State and Department of Education officials in many ways I’ve been there. For a short time She felt She had an ally in the struggle to care for our Loved ones. We do for our disabled family members without the resources that the rich wealthy celebrities have. And as you get older not only are you caring for your child or sibling with Autism but also aging parents. I’ve been there also. No breaks. No vacations. Yet No regrets. I cared for my parents until they passed away. I will always do the same for my brother Stephen. He deserves the best life possible. Some consider that sacrifice but seeing the smile on his face. Stephen joy makes it worthwhile.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. I never heard of this “check on your strong friend” thing. But I do feel like naw KNOW that everybody thinks that I have it all together like I could use no help. It kind of irritates me. I’m honored that people think of me so highly but damn can I get a helping hand sometimes.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Absolutely. Truth. People look at you like you are crazy to even ask for help. Even if you share that you are sick, were Involved in an accident or in the hospital they think that you’re lying. Over the last ten years I’ve been in the hospital and still the demands of others never ceased. Last Year I had a head injury but nobody believed me still coming to my house not to help me but to apply force because they knew I was weak and couldn’t resist. I still and will always have constant headaches but I learned to stop discussing my health issues.

      My tombstone will read, I Told You That I was Sick.

      Like

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