The following is a guest post from Eric Tietze. Eric is the Vice President of Operations at Ozarks Farm and Neighbor in Lebanon, MO. He is also a photographer. You can find his work at https://www.facebook.com/photosbyerict
Even the strong are weak
When tough situations arise some of us are looked to as the “strong ones”. No matter the situation we shouldn’t show weakness and we shouldn’t breakdown. Some situations, however, make that almost impossible to maintain. When you look at a family member laying in a hospital bed, struggling to survive while their parents and family are trying to make some sense of the situation, how do you remain strong? How do you not lose it as you watch her mother struggling to remain strong and not be overcome with emotion as her grandchildren look to her for emotional support and guidance? How do you remain strong and keep your emotions in check as concerns for your own mortality and your own children begin creeping into your mind?
Sometimes people who breakdown will look toward those who are strong and wish they too could be strong and keep their emotions hidden and under control. The strong are there to support them during their times of struggle and help them deal with their emotions and fears. The thing they don’t think about though is who is there for the strong ones? They often don’t realize that the strong ones have just as many emotions, fears, and troubles as they do. The only difference is the strong ones feel a responsibility to be strong. They’re looked to to be the emotionally strong and supportive ones in the toughest situations… that’s their responsibility in life.
Others think the strong ones have no emotions, or maybe they’re disconnected or don’t have the same level of care or empathy as people who let their emotions show. But they still have the emotions… they still have the fears… they still have the feelings of weakness. They just try to deal with them in private and not let anyone else see, because if someone else sees they will no longer be the strong one, then who will support everyone else in their time of need? The strong will separate themselves from the situation or distance themselves when the emotions are getting uncontrollable. They’ll use defense mechanisms like humor to protect their emotions. They’ll keep themselves busy with something else during the situation. They’ll step away from the crowd… look out a window… go for a walk… avoid eye contact… whatever it takes to get the emotions back in control when they’re teetering on the edge of breaking.
The strong ones won’t tell you they’re struggling, too. They won’t tell you they’ve sat and cried about the situation. They won’t tell you the fears that have been brought up in their own life while the observe the mortality of their loved ones. But they will cry… they will struggle… they will be fearful. They just have to deal with it on their own, they’ll never let you know because then they wouldn’t be strong any longer. If you ask if they’re ok… they’ll say they are fine. If you ask them if they want to talk… most likely they won’t. Why? Because they have to be strong. Because they don’t know the words to say. Because if they talk they’ll break.
Their tears come in the darkness. Their tears come in the silence. Their tears come when no one else is watching.