Day 24 of 30: strength through tenderness

I’ve always been drawn to the studded belt, all-black wardrobe, motorcycle-riding, bad-ass boss bitch character. The one who isn’t afraid to put people in their place, who speaks her mind, and who grabs life by the balls. When she wants something, she gets it. When she sets her mind to something, she attains it. She is confident, secure, unwavering.

That’s what I’ve aimed for. I did all the external stuff; I had the motorcycle and the wardrobe and the whole facade. But… I find myself to be too empathetic to be bossy, too understanding to put someone in their place, and too sensitive to go through life with thick skin.

I’m compassionate, forgiving, understanding, and tender.

She’s indifferent, ruthless, unaffected, and tough.

She is the opposite of who I am, and yet I’ve striven so long to be her. To be seen as her. I’ve got the quick wit, the inappropriate humor, the ability to dish it out and call people on their shit. On the outside, I can be this sexy, sassy, confident chick. One of the guys. Cool, chill, easy-going.

On the inside I want to hug everyone, tell them I’m sorry for their pain and suffering, and then gently pet their faces while they cry or scream into a pillow.

Or I’m terrified of a misstep, of saying something dumb, of talking too much or not enough, of offending someone.

Or I want to walk straight to my car, drive straight home, turn off my phone, lay under my weighted blanket, and cry.

Sometimes there’s a known reason for the tears. Other times my mind’s eye gets flooded with different images. People dying of thirst, folks who will choose today as the day to give up, children being bullied, animals being abused, and people starving for the love and acceptance they deserve.

I sit and I sob about the suffering in the world.

This is not what boss bitch motorcycle chick would do. She’d be like, “Fuck them. That’s their problem.” She’d be passionately protective of her tribe and family, but she’d leave the rest alone. She’d be detached.

I am attached. In a deep, unexplainable way, I feel the pain of others. I visualize my energetic boundaries and ask god to protect me and I burn sage and carry stones and do my best to surround myself with healthy people. But even then… The unprocessed emotions in people’s energy field somehow gets attracted into mine.

Perhaps I’m too open, too willing, too helpful.

Then again, I’m not sure how loving it is for me to say I’m “too” anything.

Moto-bitch would give the middle finger to feeling other people’s feelings. “That’s not my shit,” she’d say. Then she’d probably put on sunglasses and walk away from an explosion without looking back.

I realized today that it’s easier to be indifferent, detached, and to have one’s head in the sand. It’s easier to be self-absorbed, to lack sympathy, to view the world as US vs. THEM. That’s easier. To be tough and callous is easier.

Caring – truly caring – about another… That’s a challenge. Listening – truly listening – to another. Encouraging, commending, and deeply loving another. That is challenging.

It’s easier to close off after someone has wronged you. It’s easier to let resentment build a shield around your heart. It’s easier to look for the faults in others and use them as an excuse to go the other way.

I choose the path of forgiveness. Of absolution. Of having uncomfortable, vulnerable, messy conversations to clear the air. Of kissing the other person’s forehead if they get triggered or soothing myself with kind words if I do. Of choosing Love again and again and again. Of opening my heart again and again and again.

My tenderness, my willingness, my openness… THAT is strength.

The ability to be vulnerable with another human, to be stripped bare emotionally and mentally, to lookup from a tear-stained face and say, “I feel deeply sad, I don’t know why, and I’m not sure what I need.” — That is strength.

The willingness to address awkward tension between myself and another, to have the uncomfortable conversations, to share pain and wants and needs. THAT is strength.

I am realizing – in this very moment – that the motorcycle chick was the embodiment of what I thought strength was. I wanted to have that, to BE that.

And… I am.

I still wear all black and have inappropriate humor. I can still ride a motorbike (even though I sold mine). I also save bugs, talk to trees, get weepy when I see puppies, share my vulnerable truth through writing and one-on-one conversations. I still have my stuffed animals from when I was a baby, and sometimes I still cuddle them. I love romantic comedies, baking, dad jokes. I require reassurance (from myself and others), and I need cuddles and physical touch.

Learning to not only be okay with all this but to LOVE all this… To release shame about my sensitivity and instead be PROUD of it…

THAT is strength.

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Some days, I paint. Other days, I write. And rap. And tell stories. And do comedy. And doodle. And [attempt to] bake. And, one week out of every month, I merge with my sofa and sob about mortality and things like the existence of air and how we can't live without it and how utterly claustrophobic that is to consider. I'm relatively particular. And this is a place for me to share ALL the quirks.

One thought on “Day 24 of 30: strength through tenderness

  1. Being vulnerable and loving is very difficult. I know that from experience. As you said, it is so much easier to just detach and not care about anything. I’ve tried that and then realised that I care too much about things… Most of that is in a selfish way though so I need to work on that. But thank you for sharing your thoughts on this

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