You know, it's interesting what people think makes someone strong: saying what no one else has the nerve to say; not being intimidated by authority; smiling despite the fact that we're suffering inside.
But it's not the light that makes us strong. It's the pain.
Strength is the single mom who quietly cries every night as she watches her baby son sleep, holding the bruises on her body because it’s the only way to feed him. She cries because the resentment in her soul keeps gnawing at the biological love for her son, because she didn’t ask to be raped. Her strength is not in her smile. It’s in her pain. Strength is in the tears she cries, the rips in her vaginal wall because she has another mouth to feed, and self-respect no longer matters when innocence is met with an unfortunate circumstance.
Strength is the homeless man who sleeps in a hidden corner, because he doesn’t want the world to know he feels like a failure for not being able to sustain himself. Strength is in his legs, when he walks on eggshells everyday but walks nonetheless. Strength is standing up every morning despite a malnourished and weak body, and surviving, even when Society scrutinizes his character, his endurance, and his heart.
Strength is in the tears of anyone who ever shook as they walked the hallways of their high school, startled at every passerby, unsure if it’s just another student or someone’s fist because, well, just because. Strength is crying inside that damn locker because no one can hear you calling for help. Strength is in the trembles as you shake inside the tiny compartment, discarded like a piece of useless furniture in an abandoned storage cell.
Strength is the Black, Latina, Muslim, Indian, Asian, Jewish, Non-White girl who still works at the hair salon she hates, despite the racist comments from her boss who makes her job difficult; because “niggers, spics, terrorists, curry munchers, chinks and japs shouldn't even be working in high-end Manhattan salons.”
Strength is in the dry heaves of the gay man who sobs on the floor of his empty apartment because the world doesn’t approve; because that ‘special camp’ when he was 13 did nothing but create in him the need for self-destruction. Strength is still keeping his lifestyle and facing the harshness of society, despite the pain it causes.
Strength is the immigrant who barely speaks English, and yet continues to talk in a thick, heavy accent, desperately trying to participate in the social necessity of speak, trying to make it in a foreign place because there is nothing but poverty, instability and peril back home. Strength is when his voice trembles while others laugh at his mispronunciations and misunderstandings; it’s the anxiety that burns in his belly every time he knows he has to speak, because all that awaits is unjustified ridicule and contempt.
It’s not about the masks we wear, nor how good we are at fooling the world.
Because despite the pain; despite the fact that you can’t help those you love, or save those who need saving; despite the fact that people hurt, and abuse, and mistreat; despite the fact that we may cut ourselves, or pick our skin, or pull out hair; despite the fact that our child passed away, or we miscarried, or that life is unfair; despite our physical challenges or traumatic upbringings; despite the fact that we are struggling with an addiction, or an affliction, or emotional trauma that is unbearable; despite the fact that we have been rejected, made fun of, pushed, shoved or beaten.
We are still here.
© 2015 Morgan Anthony