Guest blog written by Dr. Elizabeth Deweese
Dr. Deweese will co-lead the emotional workshops with founder Nonie Rand on our Women's Wellness Retreat this January 2017 in Puerto Vallarta Mexico.
I'm sitting in the dark in a large auditorium filled with a few thousand women and a handful of men. On stage one woman is interviewing another woman. I'm leaning forward, elbows on my knees, in anticipation of the wisdom I hope to catch. And then I hear it: "I don't like to use the word weakness..." It echoed in my brain: I.don't.like.to.use.the.word.weak.ness. I actually heard a record scratch. My mind starts spinning. Did she seriously just say that? Did I hear it wrong? Please tell me I heard it wrong. I look to a friend sitting next to me and she confirms it. I heard correctly. I cringe. I feel frustrated and sad. I think, "You just communicated that weakness is not okay. UGH!"
As a woman, I have spent years trying to undo lies around weakness. At a very young age I absorbed spoken and unspoken messages that weakness is bad. Weakness is shameful. Weakness is weak. Weakness is failure. Big Girls don't cry and Strong Women don't sweat. And for goodness sake, Sweetie, never let your weakness show! I spent many years hiding, pretending, lying, faking it and trying to convince myself and anyone else that I was "strong". But I wasn't. And I'm not. Because strong meant impenetrable and stuck in my head and masculine. That kind of strong kept me stunted. That kind of strong kept me lonely.
Hiding behind a facade of strength did not produce growth. I got smarter and had a voracious appetite for knowledge. Hell, I even got a Ph.D., but I wasn't any closer to my deepest desire: to be seen and known and loved regardless. I wasn't growing because growth requires risk and risk assumes the possibility of weakness being exposed. It was only when I got sick and tired of being sick of tired that I tried something different. I got back into therapy, I went on spiritual retreats, I went on mindfulness retreats, I went to trainings, I kept in close contact with my dearest friend, and I accepted an invitation into a small group of women who wanted to grow. All I had to do was show up.
On my journey I uncovered an ancient truth: True strength is found in weakness. Weakness births strength. Don't believe it? Guess what happened every single time I exposed my weakness with women and men who had earned the right to hear my story. I was seen. Held. Known. Loved. Celebrated. Witnessed. My hard, defended exterior started fading. I didn't need that armor anymore. I was healing old wounds and gaining new truths.
Rejecting our weakness or trying to maneuver around our weakness doesn't work. It doesn't get us closer to ourselves and to wholeness. Naming weakness, exposing weakness, brings empowerment, health, and wholeness.
I want to be a woman who embraces the word weakness. I want to be a woman who isn't afraid to talk about weaknesses. I still resist exposing weakness sometimes. It's still hard for me. But I love living a life that is more whole and connected and integrated. And by the way, I now cry. And sweat.
"My strength and my weakness are twins in the same womb." - Marge Piercy
2 Corinthians 12:9 & 10b - "My strength is made perfect in weakness. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
"Believe in yourself, our strength grows out of our weakness." - Ralph Waldo Emerson