I find the following oft repeated declaration difficult to tolerate:
“You are/were so strong to deal with all this! I know you, of all people, will pull through. Because you are so strong.”
... Uh... Being told you are strong when you are just dealing with life as it comes. Unhappy face. This praise is a completely well intentioned copout.
Maybe the following statements can illustrate why I find this irritating:
“You woke up in the morning, when the car alarm started just outside your bedroom window! Boy are you ever strong.”
“You are breathing, in spite of the fact that there is pollution in the air, and breathing requires muscles, and oxygen contributes to cell fatigue. That takes serious strength.”
“You fed your kids breakfast, and it wasn't even sugary cereal! You are so strong. I don't know if I could do that.”
“You did not stay up until 3 in the morning watching My Mad Fat Diary. Wow. You are strong.” (Oh. Wait. I really mean that one...)
“You gave birth, rather than keeping the fetus in your body after nearly ten long months. I'm so sorry you had to go through that. You are so strong.”
Do you catch my drift? These are realities, and necessities.
Having chemo (while being very similar to surviving severe trauma, for some of us), going through radiation treatment, having a double mastectomy and oopherectomy, this does not require any more strength than eating an apple instead of going hungry.
You just do it.
Hate it, suffer, cry and whine, and do it. And then whine some more, and feel sorry for yourself, and stay up all night watching My Mad Fat Diary (Ah! That's the theme of this post!)
Okay, so why does this bother me? Why not just say, “Yes! We are all gloriously strong!”
Well. I could do that. Or I could rant. Naturally, I choose the latter.
I defend my right not to feel, or be called, or be seen as, strong. I need just as much love and care as the next goof up, and I am just as scared and confused. I am not some super hero, and you are not weaker than I am.
What I have dealt with, you may deal with, and you won't be any stronger or weaker than I am/was.