Being Strong Sometimes Means Being Vulnerable

I spent November like a lot of people on social media – making a mindful and purposeful post every day reflecting on something I was grateful for. It’s pretty well documented how having a grateful outlook helps generate more fulfillment from life, and you’re happier overall.

This has been a whirlwind of a year for me personally. Professionally, I have hit my stride really well, working on some big projects designed to support strong, student-centered technology integration for our district. It’s been a long and somewhat tedious process, but I have learned a lot, and the opportunity to shape what technology integration and professional development around integrated technology and curricula is really awesome.

Personally, life hasn’t been so great. It’s amazing when I reflect back even a few months ago and so much in my life was different. Working with so many different people and personalities, it can be tricky to navigate when it’s appropriate to share things and when you keep them to yourself. Not everyone I work with is my best friend or even someone I could consider an acquaintance. Most of them are work colleagues – we are cordial at work and that’s about it. And even though I try to leave the personal junk out of my profession, it’s tough when your brain can only think about those terrible things that are happening in your life.

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I’m pretty sure no one sets out on this journey thinking they will fail. We dive in, blindly and full of faith, thinking we will be different, we will beat the odds, defy the statistics. And somehow, slowly, insidiously, things change. Cracks and warning signs, we ask ourselves questions like:

Is this it?
Is this all there is?

We try to push away that voice that whispers in your ear,
You deserve more. 

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Words define us and shape the way the world sees us.
Daughter.
Sister.
Wife.
Divorcee.
Disappointment.
Failure.
Unlovable.

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Last month, I was in a scary car accident. Someone ran a red light at an intersection and T-boned me. Luckily he hit more of the driver’s side front panel and less of the driver’s side door, but if either of us had been going a slightly different speed, things could have been very different. I was fine. My car was not fine. The car I just got 6 weeks ago spent a month in the body shop. And while it was an inconvenience to not have my own car, I was very happy that I was still healthy and was able to continue with the rest of my days relatively unchanged. However, it got me thinking. Even though I know – maybe better than some – how quickly life can change in an instant – I don’t get in my car each day thinking I might get in an accident.

It’s honestly really tough being the only sibling left from a family of four. When Tony died, not only did I feel responsible for being a success and making my parents proud on my own, I felt extra pressure to do something amazing with my life – because Tony never would have that chance. Nothing like making your parents proud than with a phone call telling them you are getting divorced. Your uber-Catholic, stay-with-someone-until-you-die-even-if-they-make-you-miserable Catholic parents… Yeah.

For the last six months, I have leaned heavily on my friends. I am beyond blessed to have such a wonderful support system, many of whom just listen and don’t offer words of wisdom or comfort. All of whom don’t sit in judgement of my decisions. Staying healthy and fit – making time for myself every morning to go to the gym and get in a solid workout – have helped me heal and process. I love my fitness center and the community they’ve created. So many of the members and trainers I can count among my friends.

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I know I’ll be okay. Eventually. I know I am strong enough to withstand even this. My value as a human and as a woman is not tied to anyone else. There are days when my heart feels heavy, my shoulders slump, my brow seems to be permanently furrowed, and a darkness descends over me. It’s in those moments it’s easy to question my decisions. But then there are other times when I feel like the world is waiting for me to make my mark on it. A new start. A fresh start. A new set of words to define me.

Daughter
Sister
Independent
Strong

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One thought on “Being Strong Sometimes Means Being Vulnerable

  1. Tamara Letter says:

    Allison, you are beyond strong; you are a survivor. Thank you for sharing a part of your soul through your writing. It inspires and reminds us all that life is filled with ups and downs, many of them spectacular and tragic respectively. I will keep you close in my thoughts as you rise again with resilience. Sending lots of hugs your way!

    Like

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