For the past year and a half, I’ve had a greeting card hanging on my refrigerator. It was sent to me only days after leaving my marriage from my beautiful and amazing godmother. The front of the card says, “Your strength may surprise you.” The inside says, “The rest of us already know.”
I’ve taken this card off the refrigerator many times in the past year and a half. But today, it set in. Finally. Watching Oprah, Whitney Houston performed her new song “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength.” She sang, “I was not built to break.” And in the performance she said “my momma told me, Dionne told me, Clive told me, Oprah told me…I was not built to break.”
So many people have said those words to me in hundreds of different ways over the past year and a half. And in all that time, I didn’t. Whitney sings, “And I crashed down, and I tumbled. But I did not crumble.” I did not crumble.
My best friend said something to me last night that spun me around. She congratulated me for wearing my heart on my sleeve – something she and my other close friends know I’ve never been able to do…to be honest about feelings and unafraid.
My godmother Lisa wrote this on the inside of the card so many months ago. “Don’t forget you are a beautiful, talented, independent and strong woman. Don’t ever stop believing in yourself.” I don’t remember what I thought when I read those words the first time. But I know what I feel today. She said “don’t forget” – but the truth is, I never knew. I didn’t know my own strength, or beauty or talent or independence. I do now. Physically, emotionally, mentally. I know my strength.
I toasted my friend on Sunday night for being there for me through the past few years. And yesterday, when over 500 people read my blog on a day I bore my heart on my sleeve, I realized how many people have been there to witness me learning what everyone else knew.