Friday, December 23, 2011

The Difference Between Being Tough & Being Strong

I talk a lot. I am really good at arguing and I can spin just about anything. I am never wrong and I always know better, which is why at 28 years old I had alienated almost everyone I was close to. I was picking fights with my boyfriend that sometimes erupted into fits of rage over something as simple as him falling asleep on the couch. I got my butt to therapy after a ten year hiatus from it, because I thought I had all the tools. I was self- aware. It did not take a degree to see that I had issues from my childhood. Who the hell doesn't? But I never thought it would disrupt my adulthood. For all intents and purposes, I believed it hadn't, until I found myself alone more than I wanted to be and even I couldn't stand to be with me. Negativity is a drug. So is hysteria and my favorite of all, rage.

With everything that happened when I was a kid, I just charged through the same way I charged through the halls of high school. I had a boyfriend once dub me "The Enforcer" because you could see me coming from a mile away, hands looped through my backpack straps, head down, furrowed brow, plowing through kids, much like I plowed through my youth. I don't remember ever feeling sad, I was just angrier than hell, which of course, was my deeply penetrating sadness. But anger is active. Anger made me feel in control and that I was taking care of business. Anger got me through everything and eventually became my quality I was most proud of, although I called it "being tough." I remember leaving the house once, just a random afternoon about to meet up with friends probably and my dad stopped me and said, "Lindsey, you don't have to be so tough anymore because now you're strong and your heart belongs to you." I rolled my eyes and left but I never forgot that message. Of course I was strong! But I don't think I got that message until this week, the same way I don't think I always understand the difference between when I'm acting out and when I'm truly expressing myself. Sure, I can talk a blue streak about how fucked up something is, how wrong someone else is, but when it comes to identifying what is really bothering me, often times I have no clue. I never learned to sit with my feelings, to let myself feel sad. I was The Enforcer.

This week I had someone say to me, "Be the friend that you want." I also had someone say to me, "You can stop the soap opera whenever you want." I can go from 0-60. My rage could easily be tracked on a speedometer. It is much harder to slow down, to shut my mouth and NOT tell everyone in the world how wronged I've been and just how fucking right I am. It is hard to feel sad and hurt but this week I learned that sometimes it's worth it. That anger just clouds the road. Another thing I heard this week, "There's a place we can live, that seems much more shaky, much more softer, but is actually the stronger and happier place to be."

I find that the more I let go of my negativity, which for me is really fucking hard because it is so ingrained in my identity- my toughness, but the more I let go of that and try my hardest to be positive, the more blessings have come my way. And I don't want to get all new-age-"The Secret" on you. But, its true that the more I've stepped out of my comfort zone and admitted my flaws and said my thank yous and admitted my wrongs, the better things have gotten. I'm learning that maybe expressing myself is a whole lot messier that comes with a lot longer process and that if my first instinct is to hit the gas pedal and open my mouth, it is probably a good sign I should keep it closed.

Here's to a holiday weekend of not hitting the gas pedal, taking in my conversations and my feelings before spitting things out and trying to give myself the space to see when I am acting out and when I am struggling to express myself. Cheers to a peaceful holiday and even more peaceful new year.


Carmen said...

wow! this is an awesome post.

Carmen said...

also a great picture

tara said...