The Lie Of “But You Are So Strong…”

The Lie Of “But You Are So Strong…”

Years ago, someone asked me what they should do about a relationship issue. I asked a few questions, listened to the answers, then said, “You know what you need to do.”

Their reply was, “Easy for you to say. I can’t do that.”

“If I can do it, you can do it,” I replied.

“Oh! But you are so strong…” they said, plaintively.

I damn near choked on my turkey and brie (with green apple slices and cranberry mustard—I still remember and love that sandwich) sandwich. Only the effort of keeping it in my mouth and trying not to die kept me from spitting my precious, delicious mouthful all over my friend.

Because I’ve never seen myself as strong.

I’m as riddled with doubt and insecurities and knowledge of past failures as anyone.

Maybe more than most.

And all of those fears and weaknesses like to tap me on the shoulder and roar loudly in my ear when I’m making any sort of decision, because heaven help me if I forget for just one moment how fallible I am.

So, anyone who thinks I am strong, or rather stronger than you or them or anyone else who has lived life, is very likely believing a lie.

More, hurtful, though, is the understanding that has come to me over years of ranting about this, talking it over, and trying so hard to articulate my horror at this statement with dozens of people:

Lying to themselves about me is one thing.

But they are also lying to themselves about themselves.

By saying, “Oh! But you are so strong…” they are reinforcing a belief that they are weak. More, that they have no control over that weakness, and that it prevents them from becoming more, doing more, living more.

And that’s what makes me sad.

Because as soon as anyone feels that they can’t, they probably won’t.

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