The flip side of toughness

I have no interesting updates because being quarantined at home makes me boring and unmotivated. I haven’t thought I had anything to write about until now.

As I’ve established several times before, I am finding a strength and toughness within myself, especially as my husband goes through cancer treatment that’s likely to end in his eventual death. Being strong and tough and keeping a positive attitude are relatively crucial in this state.

Yet, something that I’m also realizing is that strength and toughness cover up a heart that’s broken. Right now, I have my husband’s shoulder to cry on, though of course there are also many thoughts that I battle with in my own head and never tell him about. But what will I do when he’s no longer here to provide a shoulder to cry on?

I’ll get through it, of course. I am a survivor if nothing else. But at the same time, I don’t want my toughness to turn into sharp edges. I’ve seen the same thing happen to other tough people; they developed a hardness that’s nearly impenetrable, especially after a great loss.

I want to maintain my softness, my ability to be easily moved by the plight of others. I don’t ever want to lose my squishy insides despite what I’ve been through. I want to continue to be moved to help others, even if I have far less means to do so than I do now.

I’d like to come through this feeling like a champion, a warrior, with the hard-gained wisdom that comes from such a profound loss. I don’t want people to feel sorry for me for having lost the great love of my life at too young an age, the same way I don’t want pity for having MS. Okay, in the beginning, I’m sure I’ll want appropriate expressions of grief; how could I not?

But I want to eventually come through it without a hardened exterior or interior. I don’t think I’m at much risk because that doesn’t seem to be who I am but grief does weird things to people.

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