Sometimes Strength Isn’t Strength

Through my whole life changing ordeal one thing that people from all walks of life have repeated over and over again is their amazement at how strong I am.  How I never stopped even for a day to wallow, that I never gave up and walked away.  That I continued to do whatever needed to be done no matter how painful it was, how exhausted I was, or how hollow I felt inside.  I think that people look at me and they see strength because that is the only thing that makes sense to them and honestly I have a good deal of personal strength in me.  Maybe more than others or maybe I just utilize it more.  But strength has a limit, it has an end where you have no more to give and your reserves are bone dry.

My strength probably ended about 2 months after Matt died, after I had a horrible move into my new apartment, after I was exhausted and sleeping only about 4 hours a night, working a full time job, running a bar, and trying to right a ship that I felt was sinking beneath my feet.  The Finnish have a word for this, a concept of what happens after your strength ends but you HAVE to keep going.  It’s called Sisu and it is by far one of the most defining points in our personalities.  It’s not a conscious thing, it’s not something you ever think about, it’s a way you are raised and a belief that no matter what happens you get back on your feet and get your ass moving.

That's right...and my family has lots of Sisu!

That is probably one of the best definitions of sisu I’ve ever come across.  Notice how at no point does it mention strength.  This is the second wind, this is what happens after the strength has evaporated and you are left with nothing but stubbornness and determination.  It is the iron grit that puts steel in your backbone and iron in your step.  I am strong but I am more stubborn and determined than anything else.  When the world fell apart is when my absolute refusal to quit kicked in.

I refused to quit after Matt died, I refused to take time to wallow in what had happened and let the numbness take over.  There was never a day that I was not working hard at something that might get my life back into some sort of order, to make some sort of sense.  Life sucker punched me several times but I hit back harder.  When I was drowning I made lists of things to accomplish.  In the beginning they really sucked ass but they kept me going since I knew that each morning I had crap to work on, things that needed to get done no matter what.  I needed to sell my farm animals so I did it, I needed to sell 75% of what I owned so I did it, I needed to pack my house to move so I did it and the list goes on and on.  These things kept me moving, kept the muscles warm as it were so I wouldn’t atrophy from disuse.  It is always easier to keep moving if you never stop in the first place.

The hardest part of this and probably something I’m going to be working on for a long time to come is that given my circumstances I feel that I have even less empathy toward people who whine.  I have little to no patience for people who complain about minor life events and do nothing about them.  I have no respect for people who quit at the slightest roadblock instead of finding a new path and continuing to move on.  (This is not at all the same as taking a break and regrouping before trudging on mind you).  Life is damn hard sometimes but you know what makes it harder?  Complaining about it.  Life is peppered with amazing joy but if you spend your whole time drowning in the pain you will miss it and it’s no one’s fault but your own.  Swim your ass to the surface and start paddling because I guarantee you that with enough grit you will find land again.

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