Comforting Words: Woman of Strength

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Woman of Strength

What I have learned over the last three months is to be very careful how I use the word 'friend'. It has been a hard lesson but a worthwhile one.

People normally say you know your true friends when trouble comes and that has been my experience.

The picture above was taken by my dearest woman-friend. I have explained before why I use the phrase "woman-friend," -- these are women in my life who are not only friends but who have experienced the worst they could have imagined and are now living testimonies of the "will to live."
I have a few women-friends -- all across this country (Canada), in Jamaica and across the world as far as Australia. They have been calling and emailing daily. They have comforted and challenged me. They have conjoled me and given me very swift kicks. Some have come to my side from afar and have helped me packed the final pieces of my 16 years of illusion and taken them back to the magician.

Anni is one of those women. She called me most excitedly recently to say, "Claudette, I have a wonderful surprise for you!" I hauled myself over to her house, as I really needed to get out of my apartment - a place that is both a prison and safe place for me.

I have no recollection of Anni taking this picture. She tells me that she did so one evening when she came over to support me in one of my worst periods.

Anni says she is struck by my smile in the picture. According to her, when she looks at this photograph she sees a Claudette she has never seen before -- despite the fact that it was taken maybe a few days before I would again try to take my own life.

"There is a glow, a ray of hope, skinny as you have become, I see my Claudette and more coming through in this picture," Anni declared.

One of my projects for January is to create a wall of friendship. It is part of my continuing effort to make my prison (apartment) livable, a way to drive out the demons of infidelity, inhumane treatment and lies that continue to haunt me.

Anni suggests that this photograph should be at the center, encircled by photographs of the women who have been sharing their strength with me throughout "my time of trouble." I have already collected a few photographs and waiting for a few more to finish the wall.

In addition to putting this wall together, I have finally gotten to the book Imentioned in an earlier post, Radical Forgiveness. This book came to my attention one morning as I entered my workplace and while waiting to be "checked in," one of my colleagues, a psychologist, had this book in his hand and without any prompting and knowledge of what was going on in my life, he turned to me and said, "You must read this book, I think you will fiind it very helpful."

Whether he meant helpful for me or for the women I work with I do not know. What I have learnt a few chapters into this book is that it is revolutionary. So revolutionary that it requires me to go away for a while and truly let it sink deep into my soul.
That is what I plan to do for my brithday this February 15 --no pyjamas party for me this year. I am booked into a retreat facility from my birthday and the entire weekend, where I will hopefully take one step closer to fully regaining the strength that was once characteristic of me. It will be a weekend spent alone at this facility and in prayer.

I have already been somewhat on a kind of retreat, leaving my house only to go to my part time job and to the appointments with the various medical professionals that I now have to see. My semi-hibernation has nothing to do with winter - albeit it has finally arrived in all its glory here in Alberta - but more so with a need to fall to my knees and ask the Divine for help to regain my strength and belief in Love and kindness that has been so severely shattered.

My Aboriginal colleagues have always shared their great wisdom with me and yesterday was no different. In recent weeks, I have immersed myself not only in Christian and New Age rituals and prayers but also Native Spirituality, including smudging, blessings with sweet grass and wearing a medicine bag. It was an Elder who told me that "the longest distance is between the head and the heart."

Yesterday, another Elder shared this poignant poem with me -- it is one that will form part of my meditation as I go into retreat.

A Strong Woman vs. A Woman of Strength

A strong woman works out every day to keep her body in shape…
But a woman of strength kneels in prayer to keep her soul in shape…

A strong woman isn’t afraid of anything…..
But a woman of strength shows courage in the midst of her fear….

A strong woman won’t let anyone get the best of her…
But the woman of strength gives the best of herself to everyone…

A strong woman makes the mistakes and avoids the same in the future…
A woman of strength realizes life’s mistakes can also be the Creator’s blessings and capitalizes on them….

A strong woman walks sure footed…
But a woman of strength knows the Creator will catch her if she falls

A strong woman wears a look of confidence on her face…
But a woman of strength wears grace….

A strong woman has faith she is strong enough for the journey…
But a woman of strength has faith, that it is in the journey, that she will become strong…

Author unknown
Blessings to you all,
Claudette

2 Comments:

Blogger Emmie said...

Thats a very nice photo I must say... u got a very nice idea of creating the wall of friendship... surely the photograph must get a place there...i loved the poem too...well nice thought... u can also drop by My Friendship Blog sometime and let me know if it is interesting....!!!

Wed Jan 10, 11:04:00 PM MST  
Anonymous Yvonne said...

Nice photo of you...Your smile is beautiful and certainly lights up your face. Very very nice poem too...I believe you represent both women.

Wed Jan 17, 12:14:00 PM MST  

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