What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger

This sentence makes me want to scream at the world. However, I’ve learned that irrational screaming won’t do any good, unless you want a one way ticket to a padded room. So, whenever some says this to me, I quickly take a moment to tell them why it is so unbelievably incorrect, in a much more appropriate way.

I am not stronger for having lost my mom and sister or having survived four miscarriages. Strength has nothing to do with it. It’s simply called life and you play the hand you are dealt.

I am in fact a very different person now then I was before my mom and sister died and even before our four miscarriages. After my mom and sister died I became horribly terrified of losing someone else I love, to the extent that I’ve limited the number of people who I am close to. I worry whenever my husband, or someone else I love, is driving rural roads. After our first miscarriage, I became scared of another one. After our 3rd miscarriage, I became petrified of letting myself developing an emotional bond with the next one, and so I didn’t (which of course, I later felt guilty for). I have fear. I have an internal struggle to not let these fears turn into an unhealthy paranoia. Fear is not strength.

This is just one personal example, but I can assure you that good and bad situations will leave a lasting impact on the person who experiences it. But, it doesn’t mean the person will become stronger.

Yes, some of the changes will be good, and may result in some elements of strength. A person may choose to live there life to the fullest and make the most of every moment. Some may turn to dedicating themselves to a worthy cause.

Unfortunately, some of the changes will be negative. Some people may turn to a life of substance abuse, which will slowly eat away at them destroying their strength one slow and painful day at a time. Some may become obsessive worriers (like me). Others may sink into a deep depression.

So, I’ve spent some time thinking about why people use this old saying? I think part of the reason is that many of us going through struggles, whatever they are, do so with a brave face that we put on for the world to see. The brave face is all that we share. Most of us, portray strength to the external world, when internally we are fighting these hidden demons. So, the external world has no idea how deep the pain runs, and how hard these situations actually are on us. Which means we appear strong, even if we don’t feel strong. So, I understand why people use the saying, they simply don’t understand all the personal, hidden stuff that goes on. And honestly, how could they, when I for one am so busy making sure they don’t?

Based on my life experiences, I firmly believe that this line should actually read – What Doesn’t Kill You Changes You. Sometimes for the better, sometimes not.

7 Comments on “What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Stronger

  1. I’m so glad you wrote this. I wrote a post yesterday about being raped as a young woman and nearly every response includes the word “courageous.” Funny thing is, I don’t FEEL very courageous. I can’t quite put it into words, but their assurances of my courage actually made me feel anything but. People can be very short sighted and often say the easiest, most quickly accessible thing. Being raped and talking about it = courageous. Having 4 miscarriages and losing loved ones = difficult = strength. The truth is, we (the victims) are trying to survive in the face of some pretty fearsome events. I’m not sure what the word for that is, but somehow, courageous doesn’t feel right. Hugs. -Lisa


    • Just wanted to say I think “survivors” is the best word I can come up with for both of these experience (rape and recurrent miscarriage, both of which I’ve known intimately more than once though I’m not speaking for all of us, just myself here). And I also really wanted to say that I’m sorry for what you’ve been through. I don’t know you but if it’s not traumatic, I’m offering a gentle hug, no strings attached.


      • QueenOfTheDessert – Funny enough, the other day I wrote a post on the word courageous! http://wp.me/p4qQfg-65. I wrote it because people were also commenting on my apparent courage for discussing some challenging things going on in my life, but my decision to write it had nothing to do with courage. And I really didn’t feel courageous for having wrote it – I’m guessing similar to what you are experiencing. Anyways, thank you for sharing your comment.

        QueenOfTheDessert and spiritbabycomehome – My second comment is in response to both of you. First, I cannot even begin to imagine facing and surviving rape. Funny enough, even having just written about “courage”, the first word that comes to mind is courage – courage to talk, courage to share, etc. But, I know better then to say that. So, what I will focus on instead, is that I think the word survive is accurate. Regardless of the circumstances, it is about survival, one day at a time. Thank you both for sharing.


  2. That last comment was in relation to Queen of the Dessert’s comment. Hope that’s okay. I have something else I want to say to you, My Perfect Breakdown. 🙂

    I hate that expression, too. I often think who the heck cares if I’m stronger after whatever misery I’m currently suffering when I don’t want that freakin’ strength to survive the next round of misery. What I’d like to know is why the suffering is so unevenly distributed among people. Some have so few misfortunes, others so many. What doesn’t kill us doesn’t kill us, but it leaves us scarred. And sometimes suffering from PTSD. But I guess tha wouldn’t sell bumper stickers.

    I’m really sorry about your lost babies and your lost mom and sister. I have wrestled with so much fear and I’ve tried a lot of things (with third parties – acupuncture, hypnosis, EFT, etc.) to try to help me stay calmer because I know stress affects fertility. If you ever want to chat, I’m totally willing to share what’s worked and hasn’t for me. Warm hugs to you in the meantime, and lots of hope.


    • Thank you for both your comments today! I really appreciate them.

      I totally agree, what doesn’t kill us, just leaves us scarred. It leaves us changed. And, I also agree – why another one?? I never get this. Its one of the questions I first asked – why is it that we are going through this, haven’t I already had my share? What did I do for Karma to hate me so much? There are no answers, so I try to stay away from those questions, but common, really, haven’t we had our fair share of “shit”?

      And thank you for your sympathy. I’d be curious about what you have tried regarding stress. I’m very much a skeptic, but I did try acupuncture which I felt was only good for forcing me to have a nap once a week, which probably did help reduce my stress. Removing work from the equation has been incredibly helpful. My next plan is to find a good yoga studio and give that a try. If you want to discuss more, feel free to send me an email – myperfectbreakdown@gmail.com.

      Lastly, thanks again for sharing, and providing support and care. I truly appreciate it. Wishing you the absolute best!


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