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.