Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Scorning Weakness

Last week Jason had a tensor bandage on his foot as he gets periodic tendonitis. He was limping around a bit and I was bugging him about it, suggesting he man up and take the bandage off. He said, "You scorn all weakness, don't you?" and I laughed, but then later realized he's actually right, and I wondered again why it's so hard for me to accept anything other than strength.

I think I developed this intolerance for weakness from a very young age, and it simply grew to become part of my soul as I got older. It's not something I'm proud of at all, but like all blind spots, I couldn't see it unless it was pointed out to me. I had the word "vulnerability" jump out at me in my parenting course, like a swear stands out on a page in a book that your child reads over your shoulder, and I understood with a shock that I had banished vulnerability from my personality, but it actually had a right to be there.

The softer side of who I am needs to be developed, like any underused muscle group, and I have to work at it. Being aware that I need to work on this is the first step, and being reminded on a regular basis is helpful as I learn to build up the sweet and vulnerable person who would like to have a voice inside of me, but who keeps getting kicked down and beaten up by the more vicious elements of my personality.

I'm embarrassed at how many times I've praised the strong and turned my back on the weak with other people, and even with my own husband and children. I've said, "Suck it up" to my kids more times than I can count, and intentionally refused to baby anyone who was sick because I thought it was encouraging weakness. None of this was ever conscious to me, but I can see now that I've been like this for most of my life, and I don't want to be a drill sergeant.

I want to be as fully rounded in my personality as possible. Vulnerable should be able to walk side-by-side with capable, and not cancel it out. I think my "all or nothing" attitude was a defense against chaos that I couldn't control in my childhood, but now I'm allowed to cultivate a variety of qualities and I have the freedom to bring all of these parts of me into the light. Initially it's strange, like everything new, but I think if I keep walking this road, and becoming who I really am, eventually I'll look in the mirror and recognize these qualities as being mine, and own them fully.

I don't want to scorn anyone for weakness, least of all myself. We are all weak in some areas, and strong in others, and we don't have to stop improving ourselves as long as we are alive. I want less fear of what I don't understand, and more tolerance and acceptance. There is room in this world for all of us, with our differing opinions and ideas. Kindness is the key.

After I apologized to Jason for my snarky comments, I felt much better, and whatever odd power the tensor bandage had over me was broken. He limped for a few days, then took the bandage off, and life went back to normal. And it didn't need to mean anything to me, except that I received the reminder that we all limp from time to time, and we don't need to be ashamed of that fact.

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