“All men make mistakes, but a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong, and repairs the evil. The only crime is pride.” – Antigone
We admire strength and we romanticize strength in all its many forms, but rarely do we consider the plight of the strong. That beneath the surface of those strong beings we admire (whether deeply or superficially) is often someone who feels at odds with the persona they project whether intentionally or unintentionally.
The problem with strength is that it doesn’t allow for a gracious fall; it doesn’t allow the bearer to open up or to admit their weaknesses or missteps. So, you carry on until the weight of that strength threatens your very foundation and the pain in your soul lives in your body and you can sit back and watch it taking over your life. Sometimes solace can be found in the bottom of the bottle but even that is fleeting and the headache the next day is simply not worth the brief respite.
This is a personal post; the kind that I used to do more often before matters of race and larger world issues started to dominate my world. However, I am a writer and I write and when a writer is grappling with missteps and pain, sometimes the only true relief comes from watching the words tumble out and onto the paper or the screen. While this is a personal post written for myself perhaps the larger struggle of strength and the pitfalls of pain may resonate with some of you.
Strong Black woman. A misnomer if ever there were one. My strength and, I suspect, the strength of most “strong Black women” is born out of a lack of options and places to lay these burdens down. Instead, the show called life must go on, yet sometimes the strong hit the wall. They get to that place where the hiding places that have borne their secrets and pain are simply too full to allow anything else to be stuffed in them. We keep stuffing but this time…nothing is going down. Instead we come face to face with our own fragility in a world that rarely allows for weakness.
I have spent the last month wearing my mask of strength, but the price of that strength is now more than I can afford. Authenticity, which I strive for and often fall short of, is about admitting that sometimes we make mistakes and sometimes the quest to be “right” and take the moral high ground isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. Truthfully, there is very little in this journey we call life that is simply black or white. Life is often lived in the gray and even within the gray zone of life there are many shades. Yet that silly thing called pride which lives too prominently within the strong often creates an artificial barrier to admitting such things.
However, I am no longer interested in just being strong. While pride has sometimes served me well, at this juncture it isn’t working, so I lay myself bare and admit to feeling a little like one of many on the island of misfit toys.