It was a purposefully slow, and tranquil Saturday afternoon that I decided it would be an ideal time for a workout at the gym.  Just as I suspected, the gym was practically empty and I was beginning to catch my stride on the treadmill. As I skipped through a few tracks searching for the right tune that would make me forget that my cardio was only about six minutes in, I selected Chaka’s “I feel for you”. It always seems to give me that extra push that I need. I turn up the volume and pray that know one notices me lip-synching with as much passion as if I recorded the hit 80’s track myself. I then see a dear friend interrupt my iconic treadmill performance as her name appears across my cell phone screen. I didn’t want to answer because I was in one of those ME moments. I then reminded myself how important it is to speak to those you love the most. I’ve been practicing this more and more since recently going through some life challenges.

 

 

I answered the phone and my mood immediately shifted to that of joy. My friend’s powerful yet tender in nature voice made me grateful that I picked up. Sadly, she was not calling to confirm a much needed lunch date to catch up. She confided in me that she recently lost her nephew. Stunned by this news, I noticed my feet miss its rhythm as they stumbled to find their place on the treadmill’s conveyor belt, which now, seemed to be the inconvenient interruption.

 

As she began to tell the tragic details of her nephew’s passing, we connected on yet another level, as I too know that pain. We exchanged words of empathy and compassion and she expressed how she could truly relate to what my family was currently experiencing. I always found it fascinating the bond we’ve had coming from different facets of life but nothing stuck more with me from our talk than what we both discovered. With various people we’ve both come to know and love in our lives, we’re often looked upon as a pillar of strength. A vast well of support that at times creates an emotional exhaustion of our spirit. We put our own struggles on the back burner so that we can assure that others around us are taken care of. Even when we’re depleted emotionally, we would be even more in a state of turmoil if the ones closest to us were in pain.

 

We cannot control every aspect of our lives nor how and why other perceives us the way they do.

 

Who is there for the strong to lean on? My friend and I pondered over this question for a few minutes. We settled upon just being grateful for being in each other’s lives and that we could acknowledge our similarities of strength and find comfort in that. It was still a haunting question that left me trying to find answers. I’m no expert by any means but I’m a master at my own life, experiences, and realized something that could at least sustain me for now.

 

 

I’ve embraced my role in the lives of others and accept that some people depend on me. It is within my power however, to ensure that I too, seek support, and narrate the occurrences in my life so that people truly see me. My soul and physical body has an innate way of telling me when I need to slow down, disconnect, and pay attention to being out of alignment with who I am. That attention to my own self-care does not absolve me from my duty as a friend, brother, son, uncle, and supporter of whom I love in times of need. In those moments where I feel the most isolated, it has been with others who were on the same journey and exhibit similar traits of being the one to lean on, that I took solace.

 

Within our ability to understand one another, there is a connectedness that is implied that amongst each other, we can let the walls down and be vulnerable when needed. This letting go of sorts for the strong ones, is often done in private. I know that there is nothing wrong being a great support to others, but in order to be that, I need to first be that for myself, and secure people in my life who can reciprocate without draining themselves in the process. The strong ones need to support too. If you can recognize that you fall into this category, know that there is an opportunity for you to play your role of the anchor, and still be able to drop it to keep your own peace intact.

 

 

We cannot control every aspect of our lives nor how, and why others perceive us the way they do. We can however, choose our own perspective just as you can choose that one song to motivate you through your Saturday afternoon cardio. Just make sure that the perspective grounds you, keeping your feet in rhythm at a pace you’re comfortable with.