Physical strength is the power of physics at work – the ability to exert or resist force. That one is simple. You have the strength to life an object, or to hold a door shut while someone pushes from the other side. It’s arm wrestling at its finest!
Mental strength is a bit hard to quantify, but it is still the ability to exert or resist force isn’t it? It’s pulling your tired self out of bed in the morning, resisting that strong pull of your pillow and warm blankets. It’s the ability to keep silent when you REALLY want to comment on the color of that teenager’s hair. It’s the ability to stand up in front of people and make a presentation. And it’s also the ability to quietly say…I need help.
Strength is another of those buzzwords in my life, and yes, another of the words I included in my latest tattoo. I think that I’ve evolved into a strong woman, and that many people see my strength but don’t stop and think about where it comes from. Physical strength comes from gradually building up muscles to exert and resist force. Mental strength is the result of that same gradual build up. You rush past the easy stuff, you work a little harder at some things, and then there are times you have to dig really deep to get through it. But you do get through it…stronger. When I talked about Courage last month, I said that “Mental courage is the strength it takes to be brave, the faith it takes to believe, and the willingness to see it through.” Huh…so mental courage and mental strength are pretty similar…what do you know? But really, without that inner strength – it’s hard to muster up the courage.
I’ve had lots of experiences that have built up my mental strength characteristics. MRKH for sure, but before that too. I was bullied as a kid – probably most of us have been in some form or another. I was teased for being poor, for puberty acne, for being a farm kid, for my haircut, and for being friends with the less popular kids. But through the teasing and bullying, I learned compassion and empathy, and I stuck up for others, and sometimes even myself. I had to learn to be strong even when I didn’t feel like it. When our dog died, and I still had to go to school. When my grandfather died, and I still had to go to school. When a girl in our school was a victim of a murder, and I came home from school and NO ONE WAS HOME. When my brother got drunk at a rock concert, and he still had to go to school the next day. When my other brother crashed head first into a mail box post while sledding, ending up in the hospital with a fractured skull, yep, I still had to go to school. And when I knew I was different, because I never got my period…but waited another 3 years before finding out it was MRKH, and yep – I still went to school the next day! 🙂
I do see myself as a strong woman now, but in choosing the words for my tattoo, I chose ones that would remind me of my journey and be a continual source of encouragement. And it’s a vehicle for me to talk about my MRKH journey with others when they see my tattoo. They can see and understand the words, but they may not recognize the BYMRKH flower logo. I take any and all opportunities to show off my ink, and of course to talk about MRKH.