When your greatest strength becomes your weakness

It’s no secret that I’ve been struggling lately. Like many of us, I’ve found myself turning to professional services for support and advice. Last night found me on the Lifeline website, which strangely I have never visited before. They had a text line that didn’t appear to be working but I found it interesting to read some of their tips for overcoming stress in crisis.

I wasn’t sure what to make of it when they kept referring to crisis support until I found this definition:

A crisis is a very individual reaction to an event or experience. One person may be extremely affected by an event, while someone else experiencing the same event may experience little or no negative effects.

Now that was something I could understand. It went on to list some of the things you could do if you were having a crisis. It was the usual stuff: to talk to someone you trust, remove yourself from unsafe situations, get help, make a plan, self care. But one of the points was “recognise your strengths”.

Lifeline say that your skills and abilities can help you cope under pressure and if you have trouble identifying your strengths, you should ask a loved one to help you.

So, I reached out and asked, someone who knows me well, what my strengths are. He came back with:

1.       Intelligence

2.       Wit

3.       Independence

4.       Knowledge of 80s movies

5.       Ability to see someone in a movie and go “that’s that guy!” 

Now, I’m not sure how useful points four and five are in this current situation, especially as there’s no one to say “that’s that guy” to when you’re in iso. And as far as points one to three go, my independence is probably the reason I am alone right now. I might attract people with one and two but my number three tends to keep people at arm’s length. I am aggressively independent at times, scorning help and resentful of sharing my space on occasion.

It’s a strength surely, except in this unique environment where the only people I spoke to in person yesterday were my mower guy and my boss, and that’s up on my usual daily tally. I’ve become so independent I have pushed everyone away so now when I need people more than ever, they are either still nursing, or vividly recall, the wounds I inflicted.

It’s a horrible and humbling moment when you realise you can’t be on your own all the time. And last night it broke me.

Lifeline (Australia only)

Call 13 11 14

Online crisis support chat from 7pm until midnight, seven days a week (AEST)

Text 0477 13 11 14 from 6pm until midnight, seven days a week (AEST)

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