Earlier this year my brother (only sibling) was admitted to hospital with a significant health scare. Of note, he has since been released and doing better so there’s no bad end to this story.
At the time it was scary for both of us. We didn’t know what was wrong, doctors were struggling to get to the root of the problem and he was in pain. I was an ocean away and we were both uncertain about me travelling to be with him as we hoped it wasn’t that serious.
While going through this stressful time I asked friends and colleagues to hold him in their thoughts and prayers. On a few occasions people told me to Stay Strong. Upon hearing it repeatedly, I actually started to wonder what it meant. Was it about my emotional state? Was it about my coping skills? Was it about my problem solving ability?
I was lost to what it meant so I started to think about the opposite – Leave Weak. That had me think about what is strong and what is weak. It sounded like weakness was bad and something to avoid, while strength was desirable. Was the expression Stay Strong meant to imply that becoming openly emotional would negate the ability to cope and assist in the situation?
Was it weak to:
- Ask for thoughts and prayers?
- Reach out to others?
- Be vulnerable by showing my fear?
- Have ‘scary’ emotions of fear and angst?
- Voice those emotions?
I felt I was strong – in asking for help, in communicating the situation, in feeling and sharing my emotions. AND by doing those things I got support making me stronger. AND I was able to do all of that while also helping to problem solve, contribute ideas, provide support and love to my brother and still function well in my usual daily life.
Where in your life would vulnerability make you stronger?