Strong but soft

Been a while.. I know. The last 15 months have been… a lifetime. I won’t bore you with the same old storyline, but I will tell you this. Softness is too often confused with weakness.

When I was a teenager I was aware of my strength. I felt alone in it. People we’re attracted to my long red hair and inherent sensuality. Then I would speak. I have always challenged the ideal of what a sexy girl had the smarts to say. With a higher than average IQ tested as a child I was rarely encouraged to excel. Rather, I was encouraged to dumb it down. Fit in. Challenging the norm is very unsexy. So I was reminded. There was a direct consequence.

I learned to conform outwardly while inwardly I struggled and wrestled with my own true self and my instincts to improve. My true self faded into me. So…. I surrounded myself with greatness. Greatest professors. Greatest artists. Greatest Organizers. I would stand among them but not be them. I found myself believing I was best in a supporting role. Best as a follower. In each situation I learned from the great women I had chosen until I became great myself. Then… things fell apart. I had spent so much of my attention stroking these women that they didn’t have the habit or time to do the same for me. Great women often know they’re strong… but not great. They need to be told by other people that they are great. Stroked. Bolstered. Encouraged. Complimented. These women with greatness that I loved and chose, were the life I allowed myself to live at a distance. Well, it all fell apart again.

You will continue to repeat the same actions until the lesson is learned. I am aware and I am learning.

Decades of the same well practiced routine are a habit hard broken. The trouble with me is that I am a strong woman… who cares. Compassion creates a softness in me that can be considered weakness. That has been my downfall. Sensuality misconstrued as naïveté. I have spent many decades offering my softness to those who chose to see it as weakness. Fitting in. Making no one uncomfortable.

I cracked. The internal me began to break through my sweet coping mechanism. I began to have true panic attacks. Cry and not have words to explain why. Feel invisible in a perfect life. I had the life everyone dreams of. Travel, home paid off, financial security at least for the foreseeable future. Everything laid out.. Safety. Spouse. Housewife of the year. It was perfect. When I talked out loud about something missing… I was.. ungrateful. Bored. Spoiled. No. I was dying.. the strong woman in me had a choice to die or fight for air. Something in me snapped. I felt like I was watching myself unravel my perfect blanket of security with fear and determination to uncover my naked truth. I couldn’t disappear. Nature took over. My strong me too no prisoners.

I am unfamiliar with this new skin. I can’t tell you how many times I have desperately wanted to run home and curl up in that blanket I knew so well. But I remember why I left. The feeling of screaming and no sound. The conversations with a deaf audience. The madness of insignificance. The same involuntary force that collapsed the barriers around my comfort push me forward.

Until recently I had yet to meet a lover who saw my softness as my strength. Who encouraged my true self to rise to the surface and shine not fearing the dimming of her own light. Knowing that two lights are brighter than one alone. She is the rarest of all great women. I have waited many many years to find her. I am grateful… I am soft and strong.. and learning to shine again.