One of the most common ways I see strong women sabotage themselves is by believing that because they CAN handle a whole lot (a whole lot of stress, a whole lot of dysfunction, a whole lot of mistreatment, etc…) that they SHOULD.
I was there, too, for decades. I was strong enough to handle the suboptimal circumstances of my life, and my kids needed to see me strong, so I pushed on. I ignored the soft, still voice within that begged for relief and vibrancy and alignment. This voice felt weak and needy, so I minimized it, ignored it, and worked even harder to prove that I was neither of those things.
I sacrificed my vitality, in part, because I was so afraid that people (including my daughters) would misjudge me if I made different choices. I was afraid that…
If I left the marriage, I’d be seen as undedicated and selfish.
If I asked for help, I’d be seen as incapable.
If I put boundaries in place and spoke up for my needs, I’d be seen as bitchy and controlling.
And because the truth about me is quite the opposite of those things (and I didn’t yet have many people in my life who saw and cherished my core gifts), it felt terrifying to risk losing the sense of belonging I did have, even though that belonging felt forced and draining and misaligned.
My life looks and feels radically different than it did a decade ago. I’m thriving like never before, and I now see that no amount of efforting and pushing myself harder (nor dedication to personal and relational healing) was going to lead to my thriving under those circumstances.
I had to brave the unknown. I had to trust the deep down, soft, still voice within.
Here’s the biggest problem I see with “tough it out” thinking, strong mama:
Your strength is needed elsewhere.
Your uniquely powerful life force is too precious a gift to be obscured and burdened by circumstances that keep you barely holding on (in order to prove your strength to people who may never be able to see you for who you really are, no matter what you do). All that energy you’re putting toward trying to be okay, could be going toward restoring your vibrancy so that you can invest your strength selectively, rebuild your soul fire, and make the kind of difference you’re here to make.
Not everyone has the privilege of being able to change their life circumstances in order to live a better-aligned life. We honor those with less privilege (and set ourselves up to be of greater service to those enduring unthinkable oppression and injustice) when we choose the people and causes most WORTHY of the gift of our strength.