Your weakness is your strength.
I woke up this morning with eyes practically swollen shut from all the crying I had done the night before, when I had gone through the oddest experience.
I’ve moved around a little bit in my life, but this is the first place that my husband and I really have ever planned on setting down roots.
We have a toddler, and are close to our families, even if it doesn’t feel close enough more often than not.
He has a good, stable job that he loves, and the area has great schools for our little one and great hiking and biking trails for all of us—what more could a girl ask for?
For it to feel like home, I realized last night.
I was driving to a meeting for a new yoga studio that I plan on teaching at weekly. (It’ll be my first regular teaching gig since our relocation here about a year ago.) Anyways, I knew where I was going—ish—or at least I thought I did.
My GPS took me to the middle of a parking lot in a defunct, abandoned shopping center, and declared that I was indeed at my desired destination of Panera. Huh?
I called my friend, this new studio’s owner, and she told me to plug in Target, which I had known was in the same plaza. Of course, Target (with an address very close to where I was supposedly already at) magically appeared. I hit “go” and told her I would be, unfortunately, late.
I proceeded to blindly follow my GPS device, trusting to end up someplace not in the middle of a practical cornfield, and wound up back on the highway. After many twists and turns and exists to other highways, my GPS again declared me—now totally and utterly lost, mind you—at Target.
I was in the ghetto at a Church’s chicken.
Yes, I am a blogger and, no, I don’t have a smart phone. Ironically, I’d been missing the good ol’ days recently—you know, the days when you pulled out your ginormous Rand McNally map and figured out your own way, nothing digital required.
Long story made at least a little bit shorter (because there is significantly much more to my unwanted, adventurous tale), I found my way home. I missed our first staff meeting and I was crying so hard while I was driving that I had to focus even more on my fluid, calming breathing patterns because I had begun to have trouble seeing the road.
I walked in my front door, having kept in touch with my beautiful parents who were visiting for the day in order to watch my daughter, while I had dressed up and put on make-up (I even put on eyeliner) and left for a rare night out. (Hey, I know it’s a meeting at Panera, but I do not go out much. Okay, at all.)
My dad told me after comforting me that “If you want to get lost, follow someone.”
Isn’t that the truth.
I had put so much faith into a piece of technological machinery that I couldn’t even tell you if I’d turned right, left, south or north. I couldn’t even find my way back to where I’d come from, as if I knew where that was anyway.
The thing is, I don’t cry.
However, I always say to beware of what you have to verbalize that you are or you aren’t. If you have to state it, then maybe you’re actually questioning it.
It’s not that I can’t cry—my tear ducts work. It’s that I don’t like to. Because that makes me vulnerable. And I don’t like to be vulnerable.
I’m one of the most sensitive, anxious, thin-skinned people you could ever meet. I have an extremely strong, fiery personality, sure and this paradox inside of me is part of what makes me interesting and fuels my high-energy temperament. (I’ve heard it called “ADD,” but I shirk labels.)
Here’s another internal dichotomy that I’ve discovered it’s time for me to embrace: I am weak, but my weakness is my strength.
My tender fragility is what makes me kind.
I know what it’s like to be hurt, to be loved, to be cuddled—and to need all of these things in order to be a healthy person.
Because we all have qualities that we, or others, could perceive as weaknesses, when what they are in reality is our basic humanness that everyone possesses. Everyone.
We feel pain and we might cope and become hard and callous, but I truly believe that almost no one starts out this way.
We begin as tiny infants needing love and affection. Maybe we don’t get it. Maybe we do. Regardless, we grow into adults, who are basically small children pretending to be anything else but that.
Here’s what I think: it’s when we get in touch with this vulnerability and learn to embrace and then express it, that this is when we’re truly living life from an authentic place that’s sadly often buried deeply within—and this expression out to others, in the forms of gentle words, soft smiles and honest conversations (and writing), is where we connect to others; really connect.
I don’t connect to anyone, especially myself, when I embrace arrogance because my confidence took a fall. I don’t connect either when I choose to harbor my emotions and hold them hostage, because I’m still feeling them, I’m just not owning them, and that’s a lie.
Still, the main issue that I had last night, besides missing the meeting and feeling quite a bit stupid, was that it made me realize that our new place isn’t home yet.
Yes, we’ve moved around—and in every other place we inhabited, I told myself that it was temporary. This one isn’t.
We’re setting down roots and forming a life, and not only for us, but for our daughter—and that’s just it. I can write and blog and think and live my life as a strong, independent woman, but the simple fact is that we do things for our kids.
Your life changes (or at least it should) when you bring a child into this world. There’s a rawness that cuts through all the b.s. in life after you’ve seen that baby’s newborn face. Being a parent forces you to embrace your weaknesses because they’re right there in front of you, in the form of an extremely tiny human being.
So I might want my new part of Ohio to feel like home after a year, but it doesn’t. I might still want it to feel like home in 30 years, and it still might not, but here’s what I realized last night in my tearful frenzy—it’s home to her, and that’s all that matters to me right now.
To her, our new house is home, her school is her playground, she has friends who genuinely love and care for her, and this is her familiar comfy spot—and while I might never enjoy crying, I know that I’m a better mother, and a better woman, when I own every single part of me as special, as lovable, and as a strength.
Because the other thing is that I am strong, even when I cry. I’m also delicate. Here’s what I’m not: breakable…and neither are you.
Your flaws, your less-than-ideal quirks—they make you who you are. Love them, embrace them, kiss them. If you don’t, who will?
Sometimes we’re all kids who get banged up playing a little too hard. That’s life.
I guess, for the time being, I’ll consider home to be the place where people are waiting for me to help make it better, to tell me that they love me exactly as I am, and to remind me that being vulnerable isn’t always a bad thing—that learning to accept and desire all the facets of love, of life, and of ourselves, might just be the real gift after all.
“When we were children, we used to think that when we were grown-up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability…To be alive is to be vulnerable.”
~ Madeleine L’Engle
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Ed: Bryonie Wise