No Weakness Allowed – The Perils of Being a Strong Woman.
(ThyBlackMan.com) Doesn’t every woman fancy herself the strong one. The one who is able to endure all things. Independent when single. A true partner when committed. No dead weight. As a help mate, she will drag her man out of the fire if necessary, figuratively speaking. She can contribute to the solution, offer conscientious insight and donate a thought that can truly make a difference. She is strong. Her friends believe it. She believes it. Even her man believes it—and loves it in her…most of the time.
What happens when she can’t bear up under the weight? When being the ‘go-to’ person has taken every bit of reserve from her storage? What happens when she is shaken, confused, and broken? When she can no longer offer anything to anyone else?
Like most strong women, she never even sees it coming. So blindsided is she by the onset of weakness that she doesn’t even know how to adequately express the emotions to anyone in her inner circle. But, most of the time, she is caught off guard and so, too, are all of the people for whom she is the go-to person.
She tries to let them know that she is in a desperate situation, that times have grown dire …that she is hurting…that she needs someone to pour into her for a change. That she is on the edge and cannot bring herself back. That despite all the good advice and counsel she has given to them, she now needs someone to return that kindness in her hour of need.
If she’s lucky, there is at least one person who understands. One person actually engaged in a genuinely fair and equal exchange relationship: the friend who both gives and takes. Ideally, this person would be the partner she loves: a husband or boyfriend. This is the way women would like for it to be. The loving husband would see the pain in her eyes and sweep in to dispel the demons. Somehow he would hear in the very way she breathes that things just aren’t right and she needs to be rescued. Where’s a white horse when you need one?!
Unfortunately, this is the real world and, while it can happen that your partner is so in tuned with you, most of time, he is not that perceptive. So, that strong woman begins to muddle through her situation. If she is a woman of faith, of course, she turns to prayer hoping God will send someone to minister to her need or offer a word of encouragement. If she is not, she may turn to any number of things for comfort: food, drugs, alcohol, or sex. What am I saying?! Let’s keep it real. Even if she is a woman of faith, she still may turn to these things for comfort!
This is a dangerous place for the strong woman. She doesn’t have any experience being what she perceives as weak—in being needy. For those of you who are thinking she probably brought it on herself, always acting like she doesn’t need anyone or she’s probably one of those man-hating types who “don’t need a man,” that’s not what we are talking about here. We are talking about a woman who has done the things she is supposed to do. She works, maybe takes care of her children, supports and respects her husband, performs well in her occupation, serves in her church, has deep long-lasting friendships, and is a leader and a servant among those who know her. She is not a head case. She is not strange. She is what most would call a sister who was holdin’ it down. She comes in every color and ethnicity—Black, White, Latino, and everything else.
And for the purposes of this article, she hasn’t done anything to bring turmoil on herself. She hasn’t slept with her best friend’s man or anyone else’s man. She hasn’t traded gossip and filled her days by regurgitating other people’s business. She hasn’t been such a mean-spirited b*#?! to everyone so that no one can stand to be around her nor is simply stuck in her own pool of negativity. She is one of the good ones. One of ladies that will be spoken well of by those who know her. She is well-respected, decent, cultured, and kind.
She is a woman who simply has refused to allow many of the day-to-day perils of life to wear her down. It takes more than a cut off notice for the gas bill to ruin her day. She is not ready to commit suicide just because someone decided they did not want to be with her. She accepts many of the decisions of this life as pebbles on the journey, and she doesn’t get tripped up easily.
But she is still human, made of flesh and blood. And often the small traumas of the voyage come too frequently and too fast. She bobs and weaves like a prizefighter but, out of no where, another something catches her off guard (the car breaks down again and it’s going to cost more than she has comfortably). While she is regrouping, something else comes and sweeps her feet out from under her (the insurance goes up while the job is cutting back). Trying to regain her composure, another something is dropped on top of her (her husband loses his job). While she is still woozy and trying to move forward—now bloody and bruised—something else, usually something much smaller, finishes her off (someone breaks into the house and steals the damn television!).
Just like that, a series of things that alone, wouldn’t even be enough to get a rise out of her. Alone they would be fodder for prayers given with absolute certainty that God was in total control! Taken together, one blinding force after another, she is shaken, confused, burdened, and hurting—with no one who can adequately handle her vent session, simply because they are not accustomed to hearing it from her.
This is the plight of many strong women. They fill their days being a vessel for so many others that the people closest to them don’t even realize she has needs. Husbands, “besties,” and family members miss the signs from these over-competent women all the time. What can she do to save herself?
Find at least one relationship of equal exchange. It is a gift to be able to pour into the lives of others. However, taking on their burdens with insight and advice can be overwhelming. The woman of strength must have someone whom she can trust without question: a keeper of her secrets; a listening ear; a shoulder to catch the tears. Someone who will remember every story—keeping track only for reference, never for punishment. This person must share their perils equally with the strong woman so the footing is always fair.
Sometimes enough is enough. This is the greatest challenge for the woman of strength. When someone needs her, she just doesn’t want to say ‘No.’ She feels like she can’t say no because often she is a lifeline to someone else. Those closest to her need some advice here: don’t make her feel guilty for not saying ‘No.’ When you see she has had enough, help her by being strong for her. She will not know how to ask for your help. She doesn’t even know she needs your help. Plan quiet time or a getaway for her. Since most strong women are advance planners, give her some notice and get a commitment for her to block out the time you have planned.
Maintain outlets for your emotions. Everything that goes in must have a way out. When pouring into the lives of others, a strong woman must be able to pour out, too. In the challenge to find others strong enough to receive, she must still find ways of pouring out her deepest emotions. Consider journaling/writing or recording free flow voice recordings of extended vent sessions (alone in the car is always helpful). Maybe a journal just for vent sessions about a partner. Consider creating a ghost email address and sending your random thoughts, hurts and pains to it. You rarely, if ever, even access it. Whatever the method, these communications must be kept private. They are for-your-eyes-only and their existence, contents, and use should be protected. The certainty of this privacy will help ensure genuine, healthy purging. If there is fear someone will read these intimate thoughts, there is less likelihood that the strong woman will fully express her emotions. Keep the expressions in a special place to which only the owner will have access.
In these days of too much connectivity, every person needs a way of escape. If you know a strong woman who is on the edge, be the one to rescue her…for a change.
Staff Writer; Jazzie Dixson
This talented sista is a writer from the midwest who writes on a wide range of topics about relationships, including romance, intimacy, communication.