Tonight, Messi and I were driving home from soccer and just chatting about our day and somehow got on the topic of his dad. I found myself staring ahead sadly and clenching my teeth (a new habit I cannot seem to break). Messi looked over at me and I told him how I am trying not to talk badly about his dad in front of him, but sometimes it is hard and hearing about him and his new life makes me sad. Messi suddenly said, “but I thought you said you were strong”. I started at the comment and it made me wonder where Messi began equating sadness with weakness. It became a teachable moment for him as I explained that being sad doesn’t mean you aren’t strong. He followed up his comment with, “then what does it mean to be strong?”.
What is strength (for me)?
- Getting out of bed to feed my kids when I feel like burying myself under the covers in grief.
- Showering, shaving my legs, wearing nice clothes and makeup when it seems like no one cares or notices.
- Exercising, not to be thin, but to be healthy and help battle depression and anxiety.
- Going to work every day and finding a new job to fit with the changing needs of my family.
- Walking my dogs, for their health and enjoyment, and for my emotional well-being.
- Re-engaging with my faith and not being bitter with God.
- Planning new adventures for myself and for my family (Costa Rica – we are yours for 10 days in February).
- Talking and writing about my story because I am the only one who can.
- Embracing both old and new friendships.
- Having fun
- Allowing myself to engage with my emotions – grief, joy, anger, forgiveness, anxiety, and peace.
I gave Messi kind of a less articulate response to his question, but this was the essence of it. Strength is a choice. For me it is about living fully, tears of grief and joy, laughter at the absurd, and loving and being loved in return.