I often find myself fascinated by how much weight body builders can carry. Competitive weight lifting crowns the “world’s strongest man” by measuring their physical capability, and the amount of muscle on their body is an indicator of their strength.
But I believe that we all have different definitions of what strength is.
I can’t carry very much weight and I’ve never competed in any endurance events, but I do believe I am one of the strongest women around.
My strength may not be visible on the outside but my body has endured its share of beatings. I’ve been poked, probed, resuscitated, and so much more. I have the strength within to endure anything life throws at me. I’m strong because I have something I’m fighting for and I would rather die trying than give up.
Tears, hospitalizations, disability, and accidents don’t define me. I can get bad news about my health and if I cry about it I know I’m not weak. I know how to put my feelings aside and put on a “happy face” when I see my children. I derive my strength from the love I have for my daughters.
True strength is knowing that today I may have been in great pain and tomorrow may be worse, but I’m going to keep striving and looking forward. I can walk around feeling like my body is on fire from pain and no one would know it. It’s not because I’m hiding my pain. I’m simply deciding that it will not affect my life negatively.
I don’t have to be brave all the time or fearless in order to prove I’m strong. Strength can be defined in many ways. It can mean you get up every time you’re knocked down or that you keep moving forward no matter how hard it may seem.
In the pain world there is no sole meaning to the word “strong.” It comes in all shapes and sizes. Some of us may be able to endure more or go through more, but in the end we are all just as strong as the person who lifts 200 pounds — if not stronger.
I believe that we have been chosen to endure this pain and what our diseases bring because we are made from a different cloth. Not anyone or everyone could handle it and we are meant to be an example.
Being able to carry on when everyone else expects you to give up, picking yourself up because no one else can or will, and learning to wipe away your tears and thrive are all indicators of true strength.
We may not look the part on the exterior, but if we had to convert our inner strength to physical strength we might be able to bench press a school bus.
Arlene Grau lives in Lakewood, California. She suffers from rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, lupus, migraine, vasculitis, and Sjogren’s disease.
The information in this column is not intended to be considered as professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Only your doctor can do that! It is for informational purposes only and represent the author’s personal experiences and opinions alone. It does not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of National Pain Report or Microcast Media.