One of the qualities that many of you seem to admire in your definition of a strong woman is self-confidence. That ability that some women have to appear to sail through difficult situations in life and come out with their confidence intact. It is a tough quality to have, to be able to totally believe in your own abilities and roll with the punches, sometimes literally. However all too often that outer belief can hide and inner, well hidden struggle.
The names in the following story have been changed
I have known C off and on for many years now, she is one of those women who, from the outside, looks super confident, has loads of friends and could take on the world if she wanted to. Super confident and totally self-reliant! However for those of us who know her well we know the real story and I am very grateful to her for allowing me to share this.
After yet another horrible long day at work, C decided to treat herself to a night out. She went to the chic cocktail bar near her office to sit in a corner with a stash of magazines, drink a couple of cocktails and drool over the clothes she couldn’t afford. The bar was quiet so she found herself a comfy corner seat, ordered a Martini and gazed longily at the Armani jacket on the page before her. This was turning out to be perfect, just sitting watching the world go by however C was aware of a guy at the Bar watching her, she subconsciously lifted her magazine higher and turned away because his gaze made her feel uncomfortable. But of course Mother Nature decided at that point to let the two Martinis and glass of water kick in and call her to the loo. As C put down her magazine and stood up she felt her breath knocked out of her, she could smell Yves Saint Laurent Pour Homme. There standing in front of her was the man who she used to adore; the man she thought was THE guy until the day he lifted his right hand and slapped her so hard he bust her lip. There he was as handsome as ever, impeccably dressed and groomed to perfection, and he was smiling. C sat back down, he apologised for startling her but he felt he just had to come over and say Hi. C could not speak, she was no longer in the Bar but standing in a court room giving evidence against him, having to bare her soul and listening to a lawyer questioning her motives. C took a huge gulp of her drink, gathered up her coat and bag, said excuse me politely and walked out the door. He came after her full of apologies and “hoping to make things right” but all she could hear was the sound of a nurse telling her she needed four stitches and “sorry but your dress is ruined” after the third time of forgiveness and the broken arm.
C had never been able to run in high heels but tonight was an exception. It was as if she was in her trainers on the running machine at the Gym instead of fleeing down the busy street towards the taxi rank in four inch heels. Why was this happening? How life dare throw this at her! C slumped down into the safety of the taxi and realised that she was crying, she never cried in public. The taxi driver asked her if she needed help and then C heard the words that she never thought that she, the self-reliant fix it yourself woman, would ever say “yes please, do you have a hanky?” In the two short minutes she was in the taxi, C had asked for help, finally after 15 years of burying the pain and disappointment that THE guy had caused her and the constant denial to her friends that anything was wrong (none of us knew what she went through, it was all carefully hidden), all of a sudden she found the inner strength to ask for a hanky. It sounds silly but C realised that it was not a sign of weakness to ask for, or seek out, help. That outer strength that she consistently showed to the world was now crumbling because she realised that no matter how good the façade, if there is no support to hold it in place it will fall apart. It was at this point she contacted me and admitted to what had happened to her.
Outer self-confidence and self-belief very often do not carry through to the inner being. It is so important that we look after what we see in the mirror as well as what we allow the world to see.