People keep telling me to be strong. They mean the best of course and I’d like to reply in a few ways.
The first is that I AM strong, and have worked on it. Thanks for the reminder. Twenty years of aikido, meditation, yoga, sobriety, volunteering with traumatised soldiers, kids persecuted gays, and generally staring-out life’s rougher side generally, wasn’t for a fucking laugh. The muscles or the kudos don’t matter. What matters is being strong enough to speak at your father’s funeral, or to make sure the work you love doesn’t suffer too. Strong enough to let your wife see you cry and let her be the big spoon for a while. Strength is spitting gratitude in the face of pain, humour in the face of despair, and celebration in the face of loss. THIS IS STRENGTH. This is the muscle to build.
Another reply is please let me be weak now… if “strong” means having to be always on top of my shit, not feeling and not grieving. If being “strong” means denying the reality of heartbreak and the gift of deep mourning. Fuck you if being strong means some loss-denying positive thinking abomination. Life is also about the shadows too, you sigh-puking, eye-contact-raping, white-wearing, spiritual by-passing mother fuckers. And fuck you if being strong means some dictated masculine ideal of invulnerability. Let me be weak for once, I’ve tested my mettle and proven my worth, the salt in these tears doesn’t answer to erectile insecurity.
Lastly, I’d reply that none of us are strong alone. As I’ve taught to aid workers in a dozen hell-holes – we’re inter-resilient. “I” is never ever strong. “We” is strong. The myth of the love rugged individual in tough times just causes more suffering. In this spirit I also deeply appreciate or the messages of support since my father died and the inter strength of the remaining family. Special muscular hug to Polish Pete Strzk who I was a live-in aikido student with and who just lost his young wife to cancer. We slept on the floor, ate cheap food, had cold showers and were beaten senseless every night. Good times. Now these are bad times and while we ain’t quite as young, lean or mean now, we’re still warriors. This is what we trained for.
See you at her funeral brother.