Strong Women

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Heartache doesn’t happen in isolation inside a closed bedroom door. All the crying isn’t held in by mere metal and wood. It can cross cities and oceans and reach another person who’s going about their day.

And heartache doesn’t run its course within a single day. I picture swallowing bombs. Grenades inside closed fists. Tiny fireworks in each vein. I picture the sheets as temporary backbone. Your whole being an empty shell. For as long as you let it.

But this will not be a story about defeat. Or even about glorifying it. Of painting the hurt a pretty colour for other people to like it. We will stop calling ourselves heroines for simply loving another person.

In all the strangeness of human connection, we can’t be outraged with what we understand. When we’ve always understood that we are built to endure and survive a storm, we don’t question when it finally comes crashing in. We don’t call it the devil for testing us. The best thing we can do is find warmth in the comfort of people we call our home.

And to the lovers who are left without a lover, this will not undo what you’ve given and what you’ve become. Strong women.

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Strong

I see you.

You with the heavy heart, and even heavier feet. I know there are times when you can’t decide which one is harder to carry, so you stay in one corner, not moving instead. I know you watch the days change outside through your curtain, praying for rain during summer days.

I know that it’s easier to brace yourself for disappointment than happiness. That it’s something you could bite your teeth into. It’s the thing you breathe in every morning, along with the smell of toast and coffee. I know you drag it around the house like an old teddy bear you can’t get rid of because then, what do you do with your empty hands?

I know people see you like the time bomb in movies where they can just cut the obvious red wire and the bomb stops ticking and everyone is safe. I know you feel that you are more like fireworks. Beautiful only from a distance but could burn anyone when they get closer.

I know that you have days when you can’t recognize anything good. That the only sound you hear are fire alarms going off in your head, telling you it’s time to run far, far away. But I wish you wouldn’t.

You’re so used to writing about your struggle and calling it creative names that in the rare moments you choose to be strong, you don’t understand it. In the moments that you get to be strong, it feels like someone else is wearing your skin.

But I’m here to tell you that strong doesn’t always mean comfortable. Sometimes it’s cutting your hair instead of something else. Ugly haircut be damned. Strong doesn’t always mean beautiful. Sometimes it’s spending 10 minutes of your 15-minute break crying in the dirty bathroom stall, but at least showing up for work. Strong doesn’t always mean hard. Sometimes it’s sinking into a tight hug from a loved one and letting yourself be taken care of.

I see you.

You can’t live inside your bedroom, let alone inside your head. You won’t get a star stamped on your hand every time you get through the week without crumbling. Most days, no one will even notice that you have your Courage badge digging through your skin. Most days, no one will congratulate you for trying.

And I know strong sometimes feels like turning your bruised heart inside out, almost dying in the process, and then entrusting it to another person. But strong has never been easy. Or painless.

But sometimes, someone notices. Someone tells you your hair looks smart. That your skin is glowing. Takes your heart and carefully tucks it in their jean pocket. You look in the mirror and you really see yourself.

And I see you. I know it’s been hard and I can’t promise it will get easier in the next few days or weeks. But sometimes during the hottest days, we get rain.

Even on the hottest days, it rains.