Strength Through Weakness

Ashlie - Simi Valley, California
Entered on March 3, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30
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Cour•age: noun: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.

When I was twelve, my best friend tortured me for a year with images of cuts on her wrists and pills in her backpack. Meanwhile, throughout this year she had told me that if I were to say anything to anyone she would kill herself.

The night she attempted suicide, I stood next to her, watching her as she took what I assumed to be more medication than was necessary for her complaint of a simple headache, although, I didn’t say anything since I did not know the correct dosage myself. The dosage had not been enough to kill her. Her parents intervened and were finally able notice something was wrong with her. I was never allowed to speak to her again. Her parents believed it was my fault she had reached this point of desperation because I had not said something sooner.

In the weeks following, I blamed myself for what happened. I constantly had my head down – staring at the floor and feeling guilty that I had not reached out to stop her. But one day I felt the need to pull my head back up, and as I did, I caught my mother’s gaze and I could see the frustration in her eyes. She wanted to take away my pain but also realized that it was ultimately up to me to desire to be better. But at that moment, with the pain reflecting off her eyes, I realized I did not just want to feel better for myself, but also for her.

I decided that what I needed was to gain courage and change my life back. I didn’t want to always blame myself for something I ultimately had no control over. I eventually found my personal weakness – I was afraid of losing control of my life, or, that I had already lost control and there was no way to get it back. I believe that courage develops from working to overcome a personal weakness.

And so for the years after, I worked diligently to diminish that weakness. It was no longer the case that I had to dread going to school the next day, because now I had something to look forward to – coming home to family. They were the reason I wanted to be back in control of my life. Because to them, they loved me no matter what, but were thrilled so see me smile again and know that it reflected how I truly felt. I now had a reason to move on from the past and set a brighter future. They encouraged me to heal, meanwhile, being supportive the entire time.

For the years following, I was able to leave all the pain and confusion I had felt in the past. I was able to grow from the experience and help other friends through their problems as well. My friendships are stronger, my outlook on the problems I face are more positive, and my family bonds are closer.

Overall, I believe we are given weaknesses not so that we can subside to them, but instead, they provide challenges that we are able to overcome with perseverance. We are also given objects worth fighting for to help us overcome those weaknesses. These could include pets, children, or in my case, an entire family. Whatever the case, it is ultimately for these things that we are able to find the courage to overcome obstacles when we no longer want to fight for ourselves.