“You cannot prevent the birds of sadness from passing over your head, but you can prevent their making a nest in your hair.” – Chinese proverb

Since my post on Tuesday about “the beach incident,” I’ve received an outpouring of support from just about everyone.  People told me they loved me, promised to maim and/or kill the offenders, and commended me for having the strength to write about it.  That is a word that has been thrown my way a lot here lately…STRONG.  The thing is, I didn’t feel strong.  I felt VERY sad.  I wasn’t sad about one jerk’s opinion.  I wasn’t sad because I think I’m hideously fat, because I don’t.  This incident reached into my past and poked at a very old wound.  A few cruel seconds turned me into a scared child again.

Yesterday, I asked my husband to take me back to the beach, because I wanted to face my fear of being seen in the spandex torture device that is a bathing suit.  We had a pleasant time, but I left feeling saddened.  I had spent most of the time there wondering what people were thinking, wanting to be in a less crowded location, or fearing that even the slightest hint of a pointed finger was directed towards me.

This morning, I was wondering, who is this brave, strong, inspiring person everyone else sees?  How can a woman who is afraid to leave her house because of one person’s opinion be strong?  I pushed myself out of the door this morning to go on a run which I did complete, but I still felt miserable afterwards.  I took a bubble bath…miserable.  I laid on the couch and stared at the wall…depressed.   When my mother called a few minutes later, I hesitated to answer because…well, I felt like a mess.  But, I did answer.  She didn’t give me any advice really (although she did offer to “whoop somebody’s ass”).  She just let me cry, and cried with me.  I had spent two days trying to fight the water from coming out of my eyes, and the only thing that lightened the load was to let the floodgates open.

I had read that quote about the bird’s nest, and I thought “not crying” was preventing the nest from being built.  I thought yoga, running, outdoor walks, beach time, baking, tv watching, and naps would shake the birds away.  I just needed to feel sad.  The avoidance of feeling pain, just made sadness have a stake out in my body.  It was just waiting for the time when I could stop denying, hiding, and running and just feel how I feel.  It reminded me that strength is not having a constant poker face.  Strength is standing in vulnerability.  It’s picking up the phone when you don’t want to.  It’s telling people you feel like crap.  It’s allowing yourself to feel like crap.  It’s taking deep breaths.  It’s connecting to others.  It’s radical acceptance of it all.  It’s letting the birds of sadness pass in their own time.

Well, in that case, I am feeling very strong now.