I am strong. I say this to myself, and people do, too, confirming what I think to be true. I take great pride in it. I am a survivor. I will not be blown away like chaff by the storms of this life.
I am bound to the earth. Tethered by a force of will so strong, it surprises even me. A force of will gotten from the idea that I must overcome.
The pain of the past that transformed me must not overcome me. I shall not be seen as weak. I will be seen as one who took life’s poisoned arrows, yet got up and moved on. I will be seen as a female of fortitude, fierce and forged by the master blacksmith to live forever, through the good. Through pain. Happiness may be ephemeral, but I am to disregard that. It will all make sense. I hold on to that, clutching it to my chest like a child would clutch a blanket or a teddy. So every time Life sends forth her poisoned arrows, I take it. I have no choice. I am unable to dodge those arrows as my feet are weary, my shoulders hunched, my movements slow, as I carry a burden that even religion seems to hesitate to help me lift.
There is no time to waste. I shall not shed tears; it has proved to be an effort in futility, I don’t know how to tend to these wounds. So I dust my knees off and move forward, masking these wounds with a smile. This charade has been so perfected over time, I have come to believe it.
Each time I smile, or say ‘I’m fine’, in that precious moment, I believe it, if only for a second. I have no battle scars. No. For the wounds are still fresh and they refuse to heal.
I am strong. Or am I? Have I let this charade go on for too long? Is there this bottomless pit of underlying weakness beneath my supposed strength? Am I eventually going to cave in like a badly built structure? Is it weakness, not strength that doesn’t let me cry for myself, no matter how hurt I am? Weakness that causes me to take those poisoned arrows without fighting back? Weakness that causes me to speak, truly speak, but only to myself? Weakness that keeps me calm and stoically silent through the madness and the incredible storms of this life?
I look in the mirror and see what no one else can see. I see me, standing alone, looking bruised and battered. The poison-arrow wounds are getting worse. Septic. Pus and blood becoming one and oozing down my skin. I desperately try to wipe it up with the words “I’m fine. I’m strong.” I smile my faux smile at myself, but I can see through it too clearly. Gosh, it’s so transparent, how come no one notices? But then I guess everyone is fighting their own battle. I shall not be a burden. I am a soldier. I look away from the mirror, and move on.
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