I Am Strong


Wall One

Maybe I’m not good enough. Maybe I’m incapable of love. Maybe I don’t have the capacity to love like everyone else.

Ever since I was a kid, my outlook on love has been in shambles. From a very young age, I’ve built wall after wall that can’t seem to be torn down. 

Growing up, I lived an amazing life. I had my mom, dad, and sister right by my side. Everything was perfect. My family was just like everyone else’s. We were normal. 

I remember when I was about 10 years old, my best friend came to me and told me her parents were getting a divorce. I asked, “what’s that?” I never heard that word before, because it was never my reality. Once she explained what it was, I felt so horrible for her. I couldn’t imagine not living with both of my parents. I couldn’t imagine seeing my parents with anyone else.

My parents getting a divorce became my biggest fear.

And my biggest fear turned into my reality.

I started noticing things changing between my parents. My mom had this friend who she started hanging out with more, and my dad began working late nights. When my parents were together, barely any words were said. I thought maybe it was just a phase until those unspoken words bottled up over time and they eventually couldn’t hold them in anymore; it was argument after argument. 

I remember trying to cover my ears with a pillow or sitting at the top of the steps in my sister’s arms listening to what they were arguing about. I hoped things would stop so we could go back to being our normal family again. 

But that didn’t happen.

My mom fell in love with someone else. My dad wound up leaving.

I remember the night he moved out. I was sitting at the top of the stairs with my sister, as usual, listening to one last argument. I heard my father say “I am giving you one last chance to choose: me or him?”

My mom responded, “I’m sorry Al, him.” 

Then I heard this sound come from my father that I never expected to hear. It was the sound of his weeping; the sound of pure heartbreak. My father walked up the stairs toward my sister and I. He tried to hold back his tears, as he was always so strong for us.

The last words he said before he moved out were, “I may not be living with you guys anymore but I will NEVER leave your side.”

And he never did.

Wall Two

Years passed, and I was just getting over the divorce. It was my sophomore year of high school, and I was waiting for the bus after track practice. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw this group of boys staring at me, one of which started walking in my direction. 

“Weird,” I thought to myself. I paid no mind.

I felt someone touch my arm and say “hey.” He looked super nervous, but cute at the same time. The conversation started flowing, and we exchanged numbers. That one conversation at the bus stop turned into three years of daily conversations.

I fell for my high school crush. He was my best friend, someone I could rely on when times were tough. 

But not everything was roses and daisies. 

With every first love comes first heartbreak (unless you’re one of the lucky ones).

Our relationship was a rollercoaster of difficulties. 

Him cheating, me being young and dumb enough to go back repeatedly. Sometimes we wouldn’t talk for months and then get back together as though nothing happened. We were the definition of toxic. But we couldn’t get enough of it. 

Then came senior year. 

He met someone else and wound up leaving me. I asked him the same question my father asked my mother, “me or her?” 

“I don’t know,” he responded. 

I told him he should choose her. I couldn’t go through the pain of being with someone and wondering if they are thinking about someone else. 

I finally understood the level of pain that my father felt. 

I spent years wondering why I wasn’t good enough, comparing myself to other girls. There were times when I couldn’t even look in the mirror because I hated what I saw.

I hated myself because someone I loved looked at me and didn’t feel the same way.

After all the effort I put in and things I did for him, how could he leave me for someone he just met?

Why wasn’t it me?

It killed me. 

But I don’t feel any hate toward him because he showed me exactly what I don’t want. He taught me I do not need someone else to love me to feel happy about myself. He taught me how to love myself because when I was with him; I was the only one who could love me the way I deserved.

If it wasn’t for my parents’ divorce, I would be a completely different person. 

Now that I am older, I understand that my mom knew the consequence of the choice she made, but she had to do what made her happy. She is the best mother anyone can ask for. She is still with the man who she fell for and they make an amazing pair. 

I admire the strength that my father has. He’s been through so much and still is there every step of the way. He shows my sister and me unconditional love. 

He taught me how to love through pain. He will forever be my superhero.

And for my ex, I’m so thankful. Without him, I would’ve never known just how much I deserve.

I am proud of myself though because, through all this heartbreak, I didn’t neglect the people I love. They knew I loved them even though I had walls built up around me. The walls were never rooted in hate. They are walls for protection. I love myself too much to allow pain to affect me the way it used to.

I am good enough. I am capable of love. I have the capacity to love everything in me. Why not show it?

Strength outshines all the dark forces working against you.

I am strong.