I feel like I need forever to actually be able to write this post and do it justice for all the power this word holds over me.
Being ‘weak’ is the most insufferable, sickening, shrinking, painful thing to me. The idea of it, the suggestion that I might be it, the thought that people may misjudge me and consider me weak where I am not.
The origins of the pain of this word, of course, are from my family. They lie in the fact that being upset, needing, being sensitive and emotional were considered to be ‘weak’, and that being weak led to abuse and trauma and pain.
- My mother was not the cuddly, gentle, reassuring, patient mother that small children need. She was generally inpatient, had no time for tears or being upset, or hurt. She didn’t react to those things with gentleness, but instead with annoyance and sometimes anger, and frankly, a lack of mothering. I hadn’t actually made the connection between this word and my mother to this extent until I began writing, but it is extremely clear. I don’t think she meant any harm by being that way; it was not intentional, likely passed down from her own upbringing. However the effects of it were far-reaching and really quite devastating. How was I ever going to feel like I could turn to somebody and admit how I was being hurt, when doing exactly that had been ingrained into me as being weak? How could I cry and need and ask for attention when that only ever resulted in impatience and annoyance, and a “come on, you’re fine, stop making a fuss”.
- And all of that just caused so much shame. I closed in on myself to keep myself safe. Don’t cry, don’t be little, don’t be needy, don’t hurt, don’t be hurt. The white hot shame of doing those things only to be ten-folded when met with cold irritation. I hate that bastard shame, I really really do.
- Today this word sits differently amongst different parts of me. The older parts don’t like it, but they are generally disdainful, quietly hating or judging the younger parts when they do something ‘weak’. If the rage-y one rages then this often is a source of huge self-hatred that she uses as ammunition. They take the place of my mum, inputting all of her shame. The youngest part pays no mind to not being ‘weak’; shes needy and emotional, and full on, and doesn’t care except to not want to be told off for it. The one that this is the be all and end all for is one of the young ones. The word sits in her belly and weighs it down with shame. It is always in the background, always there. It’s why she is spikey and walled up and tries to scare people away. It why she can’t ever let anybody totally in, despite being desperate to be loved and cared for like the little one she is. Her world centers around this 4-lettered stupid little word. It causes more pain, keeps more relationships from deepening, and keeps us more alone than any other word in the dictionary. And worst of all is the self-hatred it invokes.
I think this is going to be a part 1 of 2 (or more). There’s more to say…its huge impact even today, how I thought I deserved it all for being weak. How I thought if I physically made myself strong I would hate myself less for being weak…. But this will do, for now. It’s a start.