Making them gains

“The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places.”

―Ernest Hemingway

Sometimes strength is a liability.

If you’re strong, you can hold on much longer than you should. Right? If you have a high pain tolerance, you might put up with a lot of pain before you get that thing checked out. You might not notice warning signs. You might dismiss your own discomfort.

Being strong can become a type of armor that solidifies around you. Then it takes a lot to break you open. It might take a lot of hurt, over and over, before you finally quit resisting, quit squaring your shoulders, quit gathering yourself together to make it through…

And let yourself start falling apart.

If you’re strong, and if being strong is something you take pride in, then any kind of letting go or falling apart will feel like failure.

And failure will feel so risky.

Success is a kind of safety. If some part of your life — or perhaps the whole damn thing — needs to fall apart, then you’re probably not feeling so safe. As long as you keep trying, success is still a possibility. Even if it’s a tiny pinpoint of possibility, focusing on the infinitesimal maybe feels better, safer, than letting it go. What else will you hold onto?

There’s the trick — you won’t hold onto anything. For a minute, it will feel like a rollercoaster drop, a free fall. The rope swing broke and you’re flying through the air. The car is spinning, smashing into guard rails, your hands are clutching at anything but even the solid things are moving, turning, tumbling.

It will feel like this for a while.

The armor you grew over your heart, that brittle strength you depended on, will break into a thousand pieces and leave you exposed.

And you will not die but you will feel like maybe you are dying, and some days that will seem like a relief.

After a while, you will discover something strange — yourself, still alive, heart beating, mind reeling, everything a bit topsy-turvy, confusion and chaos and hurt lurking nearby, fear whistling in your ear, but something soft and gentle wrapped around you.

A soft kind of strength, like a blanket. Perhaps it appeared because you needed it. Perhaps it was there all this time, tucked under your armor.