I'll be the first to admit, I'm far from being perfect. I make major mistakes. I've made some pretty irresponsible decisions. I'm sure I'll continue to make mistakes.
But I have grown stronger.
I've had people tell me that I'm admired for being a strong woman. I smile and say thank you and admit I'm not as strong as I appear.
No, no, no Lu... you're a strong woman.
So I put on my strong woman mask and get on with my day, pressing forward like the strong woman I'm supposed to be. Jumping in head-first into controversies and challenges. Swinging left and right until I emerge, victorious or not, bruised and battered. Then in my own private corner of the ring, I slide my mask off and let the tears roll.
All of the hurt, deception, disillusionment, failures, loneliness bubble up in my intestines, boil up in my heart and overflow out of my tear-ducts.
I used to say, this is not what strong women do. Strong women don't vent out their frustrations in tears. They stand up straight, have stares as hard and cold as steel nails.
They're not soft nor sensitive. They don't allow the trials and tribulations of their daily lives to boil up inside of them.
I wasn't a strong woman, I thought.
And it made me feel ashamed and saddened that I was potentially living a lie.
That was, until I really did break apart and a weak, ugly woman inside of me came tumbling out. Those tears that were shed were not of that of the aftermath of a battle, they were those of lost control, of illogicality and self-deception. Cursing and spitting, that was a woman who had given in to envy, jealousy, hate and rage; her body was tarred with darkness.
That was not the weak woman I perceived to be peeling off her armor, tired from a day's fight. That was not the weak woman I perceived to be staring me back in the mirror when conversations of the heart were had between my soul and my brain. That was not the weak woman I perceived I was.
And so I know, I must not have been that weak woman at all. I shouldn't be that weak woman again. It's the strong woman inside of me who can protect me from this, the one who acknowledges her heart and creates an empathetic connection to the world with emotional zeal. Recognizing that strong women do tire and find their times to release, reflect and revolutionize the ways that they see the world. I'm sorry for allowing that temporary instance of darkness overcome me, but I can't say I fully regret it. It was this way that I realized that my perception of the woman I am was marred.
It's the strong woman inside of me, and every strong woman I know, that allows us to get up in the morning, regardless of the heartache, the challenges, the bills we have to pay, the roads we have to travel or the weight of the shields we have to carry and say "let today be a beautiful day."