...and it's not because I can't take it. It's more so because I no longer want it. This role that so many of us blindly stumble right into unaware that once cast, there are no extras and no replacements. You are the show and everyone around you expects you to show up and perform. And so you do just that. Day in and day out through even the sickness and regardless of health, you show up and you perform.
I use to think that being selected as the designated strong friend was the ultimate badge of honor. Why wouldn't I wear the title proudly? The strong friend, yes. That means I can take it. And we take it all.
Every problem, we solve it. Every complaint, we listen. Discouraged? We uplift you. New venture? We're supporting. In need of a shoulder, and we are right there on the way. Often drying everyone's tears though subconsciously becoming numb to our own.
I can recall so many moments of chaos and distress, standing there as all eyes shifted in my direction. Each and every time, they waited. They were waiting to see my reaction. They wondered if this would finally be my breaking point. They watched and they waited. They needed confirmation that I would power through. They needed a symbol of hope that they too could go on. Each and every time, they would whisper those faithful words, "you're so strong". As if we've been given a choice to be anything otherwise.
Now don't get me wrong, it feels good to be trusted. It's a blessing to be admired and to able to be counted on. It says a lot about your character! Watching people flourish and knowing that you played an integral role in their evolution is so fulfilling. It is an amazing feat to be able to overcome time and time again and rest on the better side of things as a survivor and not just simply a victim of this life.
And so our strength comes from our ability to show up for ourselves obstacle after obstacle. Their need then comes out of the desire for you to show up for all those around you too in the same way that you've shown up for yourself. They need you to do that thing that you always do: make them happy, fill a void, occupy some of their time, and find ways to save them often from themselves.
Can I be honest? Strong friends, we're tired. Strong friends, we are not fine. So stop using that as an automatic response when someone asks you how you're doing. We don't become stronger the more that we absorb. Even a sponge can only swell up so much before it will eventually need to be wrung out in order to release.
Strong friend, it is okay to withdraw and retreat. Recharge! No, not just so that you can burn out again.
Figure out ways that you can pour into yourself and stay full.
It is okay to prioritize showing up for yourself. Most days that will take all of the strength that you possess. Strong friend, it's time to take a moment to deal with your own moments before anyone else's.
So today I am going to do something that I rarely ever do. I'm going to renege on this offer. I can't keep saving everyone and never saving myself. Today, I am not your strong friend. I am your loving friend, your compassionate friend, your praying friend, your faithful friend. Not your end all or be all, but your friend, and that in itself takes strength...