The Problem With Being Called ‘Strong’ for Not Expressing Your Pain

Every morning I open my laptop and respond to blog comments. Once I’ve responded to and approved everything on my own blog, I open a new tab and navigate to The Mighty.com.

A great way to start my day, I always look forward to the positive messages and uplifting words of some of the only people in the world who seem to understand certain aspects of my life. We have the same struggles, fears, and problems.

This morning I stumbled across an amazing post by Morgan McCardell, contributor to the General Chronic Illness section of The Mighty. Her words describing pain and emotions that I have felt so many times.

Society doesn’t respond well to weakness and I don’t respond well to pity so I often keep my struggles to myself. It is also very difficult to be so vulnerable when you are sick or have something that you cannot do for yourself.

We hide when we are struggling and people don’t normally get to see us when we are at our worst. People call us strong but in reality we my just be surviving or doing what we have to do to get by.

I do think I am strong and I realize I fight a lot of obstacles but the people who make these comments not normally people who understand what I actually go through.

Somehow it has less of a sting when someone reading my blog tells me I am strong or when someone who has seen me at my worst says it. At least these people actually know what strength I have.

Please check out the full post here. Below is just a small snip-it of her powerful post.

I take great issue with the sentiment that those who do not express their pain and sadness should be glorified for their strength. You’ve likely seen it in obituaries: “She fought a brave battle, and never complained once” or “She was always positive even through the pain.” The truth is, it is much more likely that they weren’t always positive. Whether it be pride, or simply not wanting to inconvenience anyone, it is much, much more likely that they just didn’t show their pain to you or never showed it to anyone at all. We all have dark days and we all need help and reassurance once in a while when we are struggling. To express that does not denote weakness. I feel that true strength is the ability to let yourself cry when you need to, to put pride aside and ask for help when you need it, and to let the ones who love you help pick you back up when you’ve fallen. I will not be ashamed of that, nor will I apologize for “feeling sorry for myself” when I need to. I will not apologize for being human.

Please check out the full post here.

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20 thoughts on “The Problem With Being Called ‘Strong’ for Not Expressing Your Pain”

  1. I love it : I feel that true strength is the ability to let yourself cry when you need to, to put pride aside and ask for help when you need it, and to let the ones who love you help pick you back up when you’ve fallen. I will not be ashamed of that, nor will I apologize for “feeling sorry for myself” when I need to. I will not apologize for being human.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I agree. As long as I kept my composure during therapy, everyone thought i was doing great. Now when I’m actually good… I express, share, emote… everyone thinks I’m regressing because I stopped therapy. I’m strong when I suffer alone. I’m weak because I tried expressing. And I’m considered emotionless and mechanical. The hypocrisy and irony is amusing and depressing.
    Amazing work 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I fully agree, I am often called strong but I don’t think me hiding my struggles is strong, I feel strongest when I am myself and let others see what I am going through, admittedly not something I find I am able to do often. It’s very nice to read this is a shared feeling and I’m 100% not trying to promote myself but I have some of this coming up in a couple of months, thanks for a nice morning read 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  4. I don’t have a chronic illness, though, whenever I need to have surgeries, I go on a short disability and that’s when I notice the most about the unseen illnesses and how people are not aware of them. I remember feeling embarrassed to ask for help me to getting up or helping me down the stairs. It’s such a simple task but not for everyone and I always find people who show or not show their pain, powerful, because it takes a lot of will to live through the pain or disability. One of the reasons, I explored blindness in my novella was because I wanted to get more acquainted in learning how blind individuals take care of themselves. Today’s world is so much easier to live in than years ago for the disabled and hopefully it will get easier.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I really liked that post and agree with how you feel about it. I think the only time my silence is used out of any kind of strong place is for my children (for their emotional safety and health). I’ve learned that it actually takes more strength to be out and open about how I feel and what I need in regards to my health. I find I am able to be much more honest anonymously on my blog than I can be with my loved ones…even my spouse. I don’t think I hide out of strength, I think it’s out of fear. Fear of judgement and fear of nonacceptance (two things that already are problems with social anxiety) maybe even fear that after I come forward with the pain I feel it will be brushed of and ignored. I took a step forward. I shared THAT full article on my private facebook page. It’s not a huge step, but it’s something. Thank you so much for sharing it 🙂

    Like

  6. This post made me sad because I related to it. My friend’s baby died in an accident over two years ago. When I see her, she still talks about it, and I tell her that I think she is strong BECAUSE she is still talking about it. Society likes to say time heals all wounds to encourage us to STOP talking about death, and she doesn’t listen to that.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am so glad this resonated so deeply with you and I am flattered… and honestly a bit teary-eyed… after reading your kind comments. Thank you so much for sharing my article.

    Liked by 1 person

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