A Tale of 2 S’s: Setbacks and Strength

Strength is something my family does well.  Strength is something that is cultivated, motivated, and demanded of any member of my clan.  Life wasn’t particularly kind to any member of my family, that I know of, so in order to survive, we all lean on our strength.  My grandfather’s parents died when he was a young boy, and the relatives who raised him weren’t kind people.  So much so, that he lied about his age to join the army at 17 just to get away from them. He married into a family led by a hateful matriarch that would make the grandmother in Flowers In The Attic look like June Cleaver.  He married the oldest daughter, my grandmother, who was forced to quit school in junior high to stay home and help on the farm and take care of her younger siblings.  I always thought that was crappy.  Anyway, the clash between my grandfather and great grandmother caused my mother and uncle to be the least favorite of the grandchildren.  As my mother grew up, her mouthy nature caused a bigger rift within the family, and she ran from my grandparents the day she turned 18.  She met my loser of a father, wasted a decade on that cheating alcoholic, and then dedicated her life, unhealthily I might add, around me.  When my grandmother died, the family blamed my mother, because, you know, if she’d been a better daughter, my grandmother wouldn’t have had stomach cancer.  Cuz that’s how that works.  They also blamed my grandfather for not getting good enough medical care.  Cuz again, that would stop cancer.  Ugh.  Anyway, the split in the family grew to grand canyon size, and I was raised in isolation from all of these people.  An only child to a struggling single mother with major health problems was not a fun way to grow up.  More family rifts came and went for me, as I seemed to be destined to have the same life as my mother, bringing my biggest fear to life, in that my daughterly duty would be the only thing I would ever be able to do.  

But through all of that, the one lesson that was drilled into me was “be strong.”  Actually it was “Be stronger than them.”  Whatever them might be.  Them could be other kids, them could be family, them could be fears, them could be the simple want of a boyfriend.  Nothing was celebrated in my house as much as strength.  Crying was never an option.  Wallowing was never an option.  Feeling sorry for yourself was never, ever an option.  The only option in my home was to step into the middle of whatever issue you had and beat it down with your strength.

Strength is so much a part of me, that it is literally how I survive.  I’ve stumbled and been kicked by life, but I’m stronger than to just lie there and take it.  No matter what crappy situation I’m in, be it a bad relationship, an unbalanced friendship, a toxic work environment, I summon my strength and I find my way out.  Strength amidst the chaos is how I survive.  And i cemented that facet of who I am, with this:


This tattoo is my strength amidst the chaos.  Forza, meaning strength in Italian, is the pinnacle of who I am.  And this past week, as I continue on my journey to a better me in 2014, I’ve needed molto forza!  Much strength!  Because I’ve been handed a few setbacks.

I have held to my goals so well this month, that I’ve truthfully surprised myself.  I’ve written every day, and more importantly, I’ve moved every day.  Well, I went out of town for the weekend, and did not stick to that goal, I’m ashamed to say.  I walked a bit around the city, but I didn’t do much on Saturday at all.  And then, when I returned home, I friggin hurt myself and the muscles in my right shoulder seized up and yanked two ribs out of place!  Talk about pain.  And you know what is impossible when you’re in that much pain?  Exercise.  And it’s been awful.  It’s a setback I didn’t plan for, and one I couldn’t overcome in order to move every day.  It beat me.  And I hate that it beat me.

Now, I have a life long friend who is a wonderful chiropractor, and between his magic techniques, and the magical hands of his massage therapist, I am finally better today.  But that’s two more days of no movement, and I’m pissed!  Thank you, Dr. Ben Matheson and Matheson Chiropractic for your help, I’m very grateful. Because now I can get back to my goals.

I knew setbacks would happen.  I just didn’t think they’d happen so soon.  Yet here we are.  And I’m reminded of my mother’s words that I heard so often growing up:  “You’re stronger than this.  Quit crying and deal with it.”  And that’s what I’m going to do.  Amidst the chaos of back pain and frustration, I will be stronger.  It’s just a setback, not a failure.  I can do this.  I’m stronger than this obstacle.  I am strength.  Forza!

Ciao for now,



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