Broken but still standing

I know how difficult things can get. It’s not easy making it through the day when my body is screaming at me. I didn’t ask to be the strong one. At times when people tell me to stay strong, I actually feel so weak that I have no idea how those words are suppose to be comforting. To me, they feel more like a punch in the gut than the gentle hug they were meant to be.

Stay strong? I don’t like to admit that there are times when being strong is simply not possible. Oh, I try. Boy, do I try. But when I wake up in pain, exhausted, weary, and unable to feel parts of my body because the numbness keeps creeping up my legs, arms and even my face…the struggle crumbles me. Stay strong? I feel more like a crumpled piece of paper than a rod of steel.

How am I supposed to stay strong when I am broken? People who say they never break are either lying to you or to themselves. I have been broken many times and feel more like a pieced together puzzle that’s been glued together over and over again than a strong oak simply bending in the wind.

It’s a great thing to think about, being a tree swaying in the wind, but anyone who has ever lived through a tsunami, hurricane or tornado knows that even the strongest of oak trees break. It may still be standing when the storm subsides, but scars are left behind as a reminder of what once was as branches and sometimes even the trunk breaks.

The truth is, Multiple Sclerosis changes you. It leaves scars both in your brain and spine, but also in your heart. You change. The storm you are enduring…people can’t see it. Some try to understand, but without living in your body and experiencing your journey by walking in your shoes, they just can’t understand the mental and emotional pains you face each day along with a slew of symptoms. They don’t know how often you cover your tears with a smile and piece together your heart with bubble gum and shoestrings.

Are you stronger because of MS? Absolutely you are. You are stronger even in the breaking. You have endured much and just like how a tree grows new limbs once a storm has torn it apart, you are growing and changing every day. You may be at a place where you feel like the storm is overtaking you, but the winds will calm and the sun will come out.

Hold on with everything you’ve got, then when you find your strength again…stand proud of what you’ve come through and all you’ve overcome. You may look tattered and worn, but you are still standing. That, my friend, is how warriors are made.

Not many people can make it through a storm, break, then keep standing…but you are doing it. So the next time someone tells you to stay strong, smile in your brokenness realizing that your scars speak of your strength and tell a story that only a warrior can tell.

MS Gets on My NervesMS WarriorMS Superhero  

About the Author

Penelope Conway

Penelope Conway
Penelope started Positive Living with MS as a way to help others with MS stay positive in the midst of a terrible disease. She believes that staying positive and holding onto hope is the key to waking up each morning with the strength to get through the day. Multiple Sclerosis may never go away, but neither will her determination and her drive to help others through the journey.

114 replies
  1. Dorothy Vowles
    Dorothy Vowles says:

    Judy would not let the world see her tears but her and I would shed more then a few togerther. I would get very upset with more then few people in her life that would not remember her limitions and expect to much out of her. I see you and hear you and think of her.

    • Marlene Adams
      Marlene Adams says:

      Thanks Dorothy. It’s certainly not a sympathy grab whatsoever. Just an annoyance with how MS has adjusted my life. Pisses me off. And also a realization of how invisible it is to those around you.

  2. Marlene Adams
    Marlene Adams says:

    I try so hard to explain to people the crippling pain I go through every day but I’m sure they don’t understand. I struggle to find something I can compare it to..being shot with a taser, stabbed with a hot poker. Nothing seems to describe it. The comparisons they make to “aging” make me want to vomit. What I feel isn’t aging. It’s my body attacking itself, destroying my brain and spine. How do you accurately describe that feeling..the fear of not knowing what’s happening inside your body when it’s writhing in pain and crippling muscle spasms. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone but I wish people could experience it for a single day so they could have more compassion.

    • Deb Richards
      Deb Richards says:

      Totally understand. Mine is when I’m doing things or to much and my legs and back are dine and won’t move and people say I’m lazy. Breaks my heart I just want to be normal again. I want to enjoy my grandsons not have to tell them to stay clear of my legs :'(

  3. Rodger Ashton-Smith
    Rodger Ashton-Smith says:

    We are all going through a sort of testing time and our winning is getting through all sorts of problems we have. I know I have been to hell and back a few times but I am still here and sometimes I can stand tall.
    Fatigue and weakness can ‘bring you down’ but it does not prevail if you don’t let it. If you can rest and do some exercise to help you then victory is yours. Sometimes it can be hard but we will overcome and it will not beat us.

  4. Jana Morgan
    Jana Morgan says:

    It is so wonderful to read your work as it is so true. I feel like I have a friend sitting on my shoulder helping me to get thou go each day. Keeps me on the positive road rather than veering off onto the dark roads. Thanks

  5. Kathy Young
    Kathy Young says:

    In addition to MSers with debilitating issues; please remember the people with “invisible” symptoms. Often they feel like failures because they want to do more than their bodies will; and in many situations are expected to do more. You don’t have to understand, just listen and be respectful.

  6. Melinda Oslonian Cunningham
    Melinda Oslonian Cunningham says:

    Penelope Conway, I appreciate this article so much. Lately, I haven’t been able to find my words– and for me, that loss is one I feared so much. My vocabulary is just limited now and ony worst days, it is barely minimal. So thank you. Reading words that need expressed, are so much like reading my own. I guess one day I’ll get used to the pain of loss of my dreams– baking with my granddaughters, finishing one of the books I’ve written– these are two of my biggest ones. I’ve mourned the loss of loved ones, but now I find I’m mourning the loss of “me”. (Forgive my rambling please… )

  7. Geraldine Lowrey
    Geraldine Lowrey says:

    Sometimes I can’t remember why I was sad or upset – that’s a good thing. But other times I can. (sigh) yes, it’s an unusual life. I heard a quote on the NCIS TV show. “When you are going through hell, keep on going.” I like that. I’ll keep on going.

  8. Heather Adsit
    Heather Adsit says:

    May be it’s the weather.
    Last night was bad for me as well.

    I went shopping yesterday. My husband drove me so I didn’t think much of it until I was pushing the cart out of costco and my leg turned in due to a spasm.

    I went into the grocery store to get small stuff like milk.
    I picked up some soda for my husband and my left hand stopped moving.

    I’m like really.
    A 12 pack of soda sprain my hand :/

    There are moments that I feel so wimpy 🙁

    But I am learning to look for those things I can do and it helps me feel strong again.

    But ya… it’s so not what many think strong is.

    I got home and sat down because I felt so sick and in pain.
    I was out. I could hear everything but couldn’t move.

    Who knew strong ment sitting through the storm :/

    You are strong in my eyes 🙂
    You fight a battle and yet share your words that mean so much to others who battle this.

    That’s strong in my eyes 🙂

    Guess it’s all about how we define strong 😉

  9. Sandra Castaneda
    Sandra Castaneda says:

    So true and it doesn’t help when you can’t get your medication for weeks cause your insurance decided that they no longer use the pharmacy that you were using and now I have to go to the process of getting everything transferred to the pharmacy that the insurance wants to use which is 3 miles away now instead of just a block away like the one I was using

  10. Joy Hammuck
    Joy Hammuck says:

    It’s so encouraging to see that others DO understand! We may not “look” sick, but the tornado that is MS going on inside our bodies is very real…

  11. Paul Andrews
    Paul Andrews says:

    It’s actually my wife who has MS .. And you’re right I don’t always understand things … That’s why when I read your comments I realise I need to take account of everything

  12. Theresa Rose Lake
    Theresa Rose Lake says:

    I love reading your post on a daily basis! You give me so much inspiration that knowing I can get through all this, even if others font understand. Thank you so much and may God bless you!

  13. Meeya
    Meeya says:

    Very true again.
    And let me add one more thought: it’s the healed wounds and the ensuing scars that not only make us stronger, but also more interesting…!

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