The Fallacy of Strength
“You're so strong”
“I could never manage what you are going thru”
“If it was me, I would just lay down and never get up again.”
“You are the strongest person I know, I just couldn’t”
These are a few of the phrases I’ve heard over the past 15 months since my Rob has passed. While they feel good to hear, and they do feel good for about 10 mins, they also hurt like hell.
Why do they hurt?
Because they are a fallacy.
The truth of the matter is that I don’t have a choice.
I know some of you are thinking…. sure you do, you can just lay down and never get up again. You can let someone else “take care of you.” Sell it all off and do what you want to do.
No, I can’t. Again, I don’t have a choice in the matter of what life has crapped all over my head.
Some of you who are close to me know my history. I’ll just say that life has not been kind to me. As a result, I had to become self-reliant, hyper vigilant, and ultra-responsible to survive. Not the best coping skills, but as a child I knew nothing else. Some of it was my own bad choices and I accept responsibility for that, some of it was thrust upon me due to adults who were not able to be adults and parents.
When given that set of circumstances in life, you can either become the victim or you become the de facto warrior. I suspect that is why I ended up working in EMS and law enforcement. I did not want to see others go thru what I did and I had to save them. I did save a few, and I lost more than a few.
One of the top 10 things about my love for and marriage to Robyn was that he allowed me to lay down much of that responsibility for the first time in my life. I didn’t have to be the primary bread winner, I didn’t have to be the sole parent, I didn’t have to be the one person who stood between survival and the world. For the first time in 40+ years I had a partner and someone who watched my back as I watched his.
And it felt good.
He knew what my life had been up until I met him. I didn’t sugarcoat what I went thru. He accepted me as I was, all broken bits and jagged edges. And as cliche as it sounds, he loved me as a whole person.
I made promises to Rob, and I have responsibilities to all the 47 lives on my farm that depend on me to take care of them.
I have the responsibility to feed, water, take care of medical needs, give shelter to, and love them with all my heart, broken as it is. That is a life I chose to take on when I married Robyn. And I have no choice but to continue that life. Strength has no place in that choice. I went into it with open eyes and forward I moved.
One of the promises I made to Rob was to take care of his horse, Brandy, if anything happened to him. So, I am doing so. She is 28 now and will have a home and be cared for as long as I am physically able to do so. She may just outlive me.
I refuse to shirk that promise and responsibility. Rob and Brandy count on me to continue.
It doesn’t make me “strong” it just means I love Rob and Brandy so much that I will take care of his baby until her time to cross over and be reunited with him comes.
Are there days when I just want to lay down in bed and let someone else take care of the problems? Absolutely I do. This life is hard with no partner especially a partner as loving and bigger than life as Robyn is. Harder I think than when I was child. Not to mention there is no “other” here to pick up the load, it’s me. Yes, my son is here and does help, but I suspect him stepping up to the plate 100% is a nonstarter.
I do have fantasies of selling it all off and moving into a 5th wheel and driving around with my dog to different places. Fantasies of running away and living like a hermit. Fantasies of becoming faceless in a crowd. Fantasies of only having to be responsible to me and my dog. Fantasies of not having to be responsible for everything.
And that’s all they are, fantasies. The responsible me won’t allow myself to give into them.
I may end up losing my sheep flock as it is. It will depend on what happens over the next 6-ish months. I know it will make me feel like a failure if I do. Failure that I can’t find a way to fix it. Failure in responsibility to the sentient beings that depend on me. And I won’t be able to live with the failure if I can’t live up to the promises I made to Robyn.
I don’t want to be the version of strong that people see now. Just know, I was not given a choice in this matter of life. Strength is a fallacy.
I was not given a choice.
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