On Being “Strong”

This may end up a little bit more of a rant than I’d like but I need to process it, so here goes.

I am so tired of being seen as strong and able to do thing alone that other people just couldn’t do.

I am so sick of married friends saying things like “I could never do x, y or z without my husband” right after they’ve told me that of course I don’t need a man to do something and I should stop thinking like that.

I am tired of “but you’re such a strong, independent person!”

It’s out of necessity and I often wish I had the luxury of not being strong and independent.

This rant is brought to you today by an email I got from an acquaintance.  Not a friend, but an acquaintance with whom I have many mutual friends and a friendly relationship.  She got married about five years ago, fairly young, in her mid-20s (at least young for this part of the world).  She and her husband recently got a dog and she was writing for advice because, while her husband was out of town on a business trip, the dog got sick.

Now, I have nothing but sympathy for anyone who is worried about the health of a pet.  I’ve been there and it’s scary and you feel so helpless.  But the way she phrased it: see if you can figure out what might have driven me crazy:

Owner: “Can anyone recommend a kind-hearted vet in the area?  My husband is out of town and our dog won’t eat so I’m so worried.”

[a lot of advice follows]

Owner: “It’s just that with my husband gone, I’m scared.”

Her friend: “That’s a lot to deal with when your husband is gone!”

Another friend: “What a great owner you are holding down the fort while your husband is gone!”

Owner: “Yeah, it’s just hard because my husband is gone.  But he comes back tonight so it’ll be fine.”

First friend: “How scary when your husband is gone!”

To my credit, I was able to give my own doggie medical advice without saying what I wanted to, which was that SOME of us have to deal with health scares (canine and human) on our own without husbands!  And that it would probably be scary for her with or without her husband, unless her husband has magical doggie-curing powers!  And that she maybe needs to stand on her own two feet and deal with things, yes, even when her husband is out of town for one night!

But the reality is that I’m jealous.  I don’t want to deal with all these things alone.  And even though I’d probably make myself throw up if I ever said it out loud, there’s a big part of me that wants a magic husband that makes everything less scary when he’s around.

This person has told me before that she is impressed with how strong and independent I am.  I don’t want to be.  I’m tired!


3 Responses to On Being “Strong”

  1. LindsayDayton says:

    So much of this feels true for me. Not having met my husband until I was 32, I had gotten very used to identifying with “strong” and “independent” and like you, I worked hard to minimize the number of experiences that I missed because I did not have a partner.

    Now that I do have one though, I can confirm that your jealousy is justified. Having a partner makes things easier. It doesn’t make the dog not get sick, but it makes it easier to manage, both logistically and emotionally.

    All I can really say is be patient. Being strong and independent now will make the partnership all the sweeter when you finally get it, because you will better understand the value.

  2. Betty K says:

    Your feelings are honest and valid. The reality is that so many single women living alone don’t have the luxury of being co-dependent. They have to survive and figure it out on their own because they have to. They are not acting strong and independent because they want to but because they have no other choice. You are honest about your feelings of jealousy and frustration. You don’t have ill will but merely want more sympathy and understanding. It is understandable how that dialog could be annoying and at least you were honest about your feelings.

  3. Alexa says:

    I just happened upon your blog from a link – and I will be Favorite-ing it! I so appreciate your candor and absolutely identify with your feelings. I’m 46 now, and thinking back – I remember some of the most precious memories I have are times when I lived in a low-income apt complex and had the pleasure of befriending some of the other women there who were also in my situation (I’m a single mom.) I was in my early 20’s and today I am a single mother again. In between I had two serious relationships: one ending an engagement and another a marriage that quickly turned abusive. I share that only to mention that not all married couples (even the most devout Christian married couples) are enjoying delicious fruits of marriage. And sadly, many feel unable to ever let anyone know about it. I know you know this already…but perhaps you’re like me and easily forget that part.

    Anyway – I like your blog. Thanks for having it, and I’m wishing that happier days and weeks (and years) come your way soon.

    Alexa from Massachusetts

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