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STRONG: Image showing a cup of black coffee that reads 'be strong'.
Photo by Heather Ford on Unsplash

S - Sound. It's the sound I heard when her lungs pushed out the air almost as vigorously as I was pushed out

When my own tiny lungs made my voice resonate in unison with hers.

T - Thing. The first thing I held as my tiny fingers clamped onto hers

They were so mighty!

R - Reflection. The reflection I saw in the mirror of her eyes.

O - Odor. The sweet odor of her embrace

The scent that filled the room every time she walked in.

N - Name. Strong is the name I was given even before any of them knew I would come into existence.

G - Gift. Strong is the gift of survival that has been passed on, generation to generation and handed down to me.


S - Sentence. It's the death sentence that kept my mothers alive.

S - Smile. The smile that was pasted onto their faces.

T - Teeth. It's the teeth that don't break no matter how many shackles they have had to chew themselves free from.

T - Thought. It's the thought that constantly played in their mind as background music.

R - Reason. The only reason they had to get up,

To keep walking the walk of life.

R - Resilience. Strong is the resilience we inherited.

O - Obligation. The obligation to always be ok.

O - Option. Strong is the only option my mothers ever had.

N - Numb. Strong is how numb they had to become

How they kept walking straight while all their limbs were broken

How they carried us all on their back

How they didn't even realise their back was completely shattered.

N - Necessity. Strong is who we became out of necessity.

G - Guilt. It's the guilt that chased away tiredness before their body even felt it

G - Generation. It's all the generations that could not remember how to feel fear or exhaustion or anger.


S - Sacrifice. Strong is the sacrifice we will never forget.

S - Scars. But perhaps strong is also having the courage to uncover the wounds that have been kept hidden,

Allowing the scars to heal.

S - Smile. Strong is why I can still smile.

T - True. It's being true to myself. True to my feelings. Giving myself permission to feel. Even when I feel scared. Sad. Sobby. Sorrowful.

T - Tired. Sometimes, it's just that. Allowing my body to feel the tiredness...

Centuries of free labor our bodies are still recovering from.

T - Tears. Sometimes strong is allowing the tears to pour down my face and just feeling the pain.

R - Rest. It can just be about radical rest.

R - Reaching out. Or reaching out for help.

R - Raw. Strong is learning to be raw. And vulnerable.

O - Ok. Knowing it's ok not to be ok.

O - Objection. It's the polite objection I now recite when the voice in my head tells me:

but, you're a strong woman!

O - Opportunity. Maybe strong is the opportunity to let go of the expectation to always be strong.

N - No. Simply saying no without an explanation.

N - Nothing. Being ok with saying nothing.

Realising not every conversation is worth my emotional energy.

N - Nurturing. Being kind and nurturing to myself.

G - Grief. Maybe strong is allowing myself to grieve the loss of place and identity and culture and dignity,

But knowing deep down that we will keep reinventing ourselves.

G - Gratitude. Strong is the gratitude to those who have taught us survival.

G - Gift. Strong is the gift that was handed to me at birth

That I don't have to pass down as trauma and repressed emotions.

The gift I can turn into hope.

The certitude that I have what it takes to not just survive, but thrive.

And if not, then strong is

The permission I grant myself to ask for help.

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