You never realize how strong you are until you are faced with a challenge that tests your strength. Many people see being strong as hiding your emotions, censoring how you feel and keeping it together at all times…basically to lie to yourself and to others that you even feel or have any problems in your life.
How many times have you heard “suck it up” when you were hurting so badly that you didn’t even have any breath to suck up in the first place? Those kinds of words drain any remaining life out of a person leaving them feeling hopeless and wounded. Life isn’t fair…absolutely, but that doesn’t mean pain should be swept under the rug and invalidated.
Pain is real. Pain stings. Pain hurts. And for those who are unfamiliar with multiple sclerosis…it hurts too.
It’s sad to hear of the doctors out there that don’t believe MS is painful. There are hundreds of thousands of us living with MS that would disagree with that statement. We can be hurting from uncontrollable muscle spasms, joint discomfort, headaches, Lhermitte’s sign, optic neuritis, and burning nerve pain.
My first MS painful moment was an encounter with the dreaded MS Hug. It feels somewhat like a girdle around your torso but you can’t take it off or loosen its grip. For me, it lasted for days and days. Only this past year has it actually seemed to disappear. Either that or I have finally gotten used to the pain and am able to ignore the discomfort it causes.
The truth is, there are times when life knocks the breath out of you without warning and leaves you down on the floor seeing stars. When that happens, you don’t need another slap in the face or kick in the gut by an insensitive person throwing out cliches and misinformation.
We need to redefine strength.
Being strong isn’t denying your emotions…it’s embracing them. It’s saying “Yes, I’m hurting” and allowing yourself time to grieve. It’s crying when you need to and screaming if you have to. You don’t even have to succeed in order to be strong. Trying your best and failing shows greater strength than doing the victory dance at the finish line. You have to be honest with yourself and acknowledge your feelings. You can’t hold back what makes you, you!
The important thing is to not allow your feelings to control you. Give yourself thirty minutes to cry that gut wrenching cry you need to get out, then catch your breath, blow your nose and hold your head high. You may not have control over the things happening in your life, but you do have control over how you respond.
Never give up the fight to survive no matter how weak, hopeless, or completely powerless you may feel. You are stronger than you give yourself credit for. Remember, tears aren’t weakness, they are simply parts of you leaking out to make room for those amazing muscles you are developing.