I remember watching Rihanna being interviewed back in 2009 by Diane Sawyer about Chris Brown beating her so severely that her face was swollen and bruised. It was an image of a broken woman. A defeated woman. A woman who couldn’t stand up for herself, and the public did not see her in this light. And so, they asked how a strong woman as she could possible LET the abuse happen. Because physical abuse only happens to the weak. That was a question that always perturbed and stayed with me long after the story died down. Perhaps it was because I also saw myself as extremely emotionally strong, so how could I let someone emotionally abuse me? It was precisely because I thought I was strong that I didn’t see it as abuse. I always defended myself after he accused me of something minor. I verbally fought back and told him he was wrong when he tried to say I was wrong. I gave him ultimatums to change, so I didn’t think I was weak. I thought I was so strong that I COULD make the relationship work. I was wrong.
Sometimes, being so strong can be your downfall, because you refuse to ask for help and to see yourself as a victim. He was slowly trying to break me down to make himself feel better because he didn’t like himself, and I knew this, but I held on the guilt of leaving a man who loved me and whom I loved. It was not a healthy relationship, but the guilt and emotional abuse clouded my judgment, so I made up excuses for what we had. What we had was dysfunctional and I realize now that it was because I didn’t value my own happiness over the relationship. I was a strong person, but I was sacrificing my personal happiness. One day, I just made the decision to move. I did feel defeated, weak, and broken, but it was not because of who I had become, but because I had fought so hard for this relationship. Ultimately, it was a good thing, because those who are the strongest sometimes need to admit that they can also be weak and need help. We hold on to all these things because we want to appear strong, right, or simply because we are stubborn. This is not strength. Strength is knowing you are strong enough to ask for help.