I Am Strong Enough

This is my favorite post because I show both my vulnerability and strength, and I get to discuss the communities that I draw strength from, and the power that music has to calm and center me. It’s an important post for me, and it’s been powerful in giving others validation and encouragement.

Blog Bash

This past week, I was in court for a custody hearing. I gave my testimony, and was cross examined. My witness testified and was cross examined. What followed was four straight hours of my ex and the witnesses he called to the stand going over every bad day, every poor decision, every instance they could think of where I did not bring my A-game as a mom. I was forced to listen over and over how I have failed and how my ex has succeeded. It was very easily the hardest day of my life.

While I was forced to sit and listen to lies, embellishments, and half-truths about how I have treated my children from my ex and his witnesses, I had to draw upon strength from deep inside. I had to turn my thoughts to peace, comfort, and happiness. I had to remind myself that even when the witnesses brought forth examples with truth behind them, that the those times were during some of the darkest days of my life. When I was forbidden to seek treatment for depression, when it was inferred that my lack of relationship with God was to blame for my emotional state, and when I reached out and asked for help and was rejected. I can be gentle with myself and know that I was doing the best I could at the time, and feel compassion for the overwhelmed, lonely, detached, stressed out person I used to be.. to not look upon her as a failure. To not look upon her with harsh judgment, or with regret. I have always been enough. I have never been a failure.

I was strong enough in court, in no small part because…

I was thinking about the Just Be Enough mission while I was in court. The women I have grown to know and care about as we build community. How we have come together to be honest and promote acceptance of ourselves and give permission for us to be who we are where we are.

I was thinking about the #PPDarmy and The Band from BandBackTogether and how their support and insight and comfort have been a huge part of my recovery and growth. How both groups have contributed in a major way to my desire to speak out and normalize/advocate on behalf of mental illness, special needs, and invisible disabilities. I also thought about how the hearing provided those things I was keeping hidden (some out of respect for my ex and some out of fear of my words being used against me) to be spoken of. I can speak more freely about my depression and related issues now that they have indeed been used against me in court.

I was thinking about my support network, both on and offline, and how blessed I am to have friends who love me unconditionally and accept me unreservedly. And who listen over and over and over as I process what goes on in my head in an attempt to stay rational and strong in the face of battle. Who bless me with their words in twitter responses, DMs, texts, and phone calls.

I was thinking about my readers, and how gentle and validating and accepting you’ve been as I have tried to write out my sorrow, my depression, my big feelings in the form of blog posts, writing prompt responses, and poetry. How these risks I have taken in turning something awful into what I hope are beautiful expressions of creativity and transparency have been met with loving words and encouragement for more of the same. You can’t imagine the validation you’ve given me this year. All of you. Thank you.

I was thinking about music, how grateful I am for the emotional connection I have to it, and how I was prepared and my cup was filled the night before I went into court. It was exactly what I needed, that centeredness and connectedness, to draw upon.. knowing others have felt this kind of excoriating pain, have been this cruelly humiliated by someone they used to know well, this publicly shamed in front of people whose opinions they value.

Related directly to music, thank you D, for the recent introduction to Blue October, and the immersion in it the night before. The two playlists I have come to know well circulated in my head, and the affirming words you’ve given toward accepting and owning the emotions in my story gave me a lot of courage. I am grateful for who you are, for how you accept my intensity and willingness to dig deep and get my drive to be compassionate and supportive. I’m also grateful for the healthy and balanced perspective you see things from, and for your wisdom and insight. You are exactly the friend I needed to meet.

The prompt this week from Just Be Enough was about how do you stop from comparing yourself, and last week’s was about standing taller. Today I am not comparing myself and my emotional responses and my life to anyone else’s, and I am standing taller. Because I accept who I am as enough. I accept how I was made uniquely, and all of the experiences I’ve had that have made me who I am today. I accept my struggles, my weaknesses, and my character flaws. I embrace them. They make me who I was created to be. And reframing those experiences to understand how they help me love deeper and see more, how my story can allow me to help others, makes me proud of who I have become.

Because of what’s happened to me, I have become a more beautiful soul. Because of the ways I have been imprinted, scarred, broken, and healed. Because of what has happened in my life, not in spite of it.

I am enough. So are you.

68 thoughts on “I Am Strong Enough

  1. This was so beautifully and honestly written. We are so hard on ourselves for not meeting the so called standards of others. Yet we live life with a 1000 lb weight tied around our necks and somehow we expect ourselves to be able to carry it the way those who don’t have it tied to them do. When we can’t we punish ourselves harshly. I think what you’re doing is amazing. Allowing yourself to make mistakes but learn from them and then having the strength and courage to put yourself out there is just downright amazing.

    • Thank you so much, Dafeenah. Your words mean a lot to me, and what you said is so true.. its like expecting ourselves to be able to drive as far on half a tank of gas as other people drive on a full tank. And the words we use against ourselves can be so much harsher than any words others would speak to us. Thank you for reading and commenting!

  2. Lovely friend, you are enough. And you are strong. I absolutely love this post especially because it shows the strength we can call upon from ourselves but also by reaching out to other social media support systems. I’d love to re-post this on my blog if you are interested Frelle. I’ll DM you. Much love my friend. You are not alone.

    • Thank you for your sweet words, and I’m humbled that you wanted to share this post with your readers. Thank you so much for your ever-present support, you’ve been such a gift to me. *HUG*

    • The feeling is totally mutual. You have inspired me since the first post I read. I feel a real kinship with you over the struggles we’ve both had. Thank you for being so faithful in reaching out to me, and welcoming of my support for you. Friendships like this are what life is all about. *HUG*

    • what a compliment. Thank you, Elena. I’m humbled that I can be an inspiration to you, and so grateful that we found a new old friend in one another this year. *HUG*

  3. clearly you are strong enough if you could sit in that courtroom and listen to those things then write such an inspiring post. I’m so thankful you see who you were created to be. It’s freedom.

    • Thank you for your words of encouragement, Julie. I needed to be able to thank those whose strength I drew from. I do see more clearly who I was created to be, and the impact I can make with communicating my perspective. I appreciate your taking the time to read and comment.

  4. “Because of the ways I have been imprinted, scarred, broken, and healed. Because of what has happened in my life, not in spite of it.”

    YES! And healing is never a one-shot deal or linear. It starts and stops, grows and renews, pushes and pulls. Each time, the scar tissue raises and then eventually smooths. And with every healing, minor and major, we learn something new.

    A beautiful post & please know my good thoughts are with you.

    • Thank you so much for reading and commenting, Jan. I appreciate your encouragement so much, and the wisdom you have that comes from experience.

    • thank you for your sweet words, Alison. I’m grateful that my readers and friends appreciate my openness the way they do, it encourages me to keep being brave.

  5. Jenna, I could only imagine what you felt sitting in that courtroom, listening to someone recanting all your ‘weaknesses’ for the sole purpose of putting you down. I wish I could be there if only to show my support and that I think you’re a wonderful person.

    I too, have been battling depression on and off. I was diagnosed with Postpartum Psychosis about six months after my daughter was born. Until now, I am still taking antidepressant, anti-anxiety, as well as sleeping meds. I’m not sure what your story was with your ex, but my husband has not been the most understanding about my depression. I know that he sees it as a sign of weakness on my part.

    But I am here, regardless, to reaffirm of your worth, your strengths… that despite of what happened, you are a good person, a good mother. And that you are enough.


    • Your comment made me cry. In a good way. I’m so glad we’ve made a connection recently. I knew you understood things I havent been saying in my posts, reading between the lines. You’re wonderful at validating. And yes, in particular, my depression was viewed as weakness.. damaged/broken as well as being my fault for not coping better. And I knew walking into that courtroom that I am enough, thanks to the friends who have been part of my network of support. You included. *HUG*

  6. To have my mistakes as a parent meticulously pointed out, analyzed and flung out into the open is probably one of the worst things I can imagine happening in this lifetime. Hideous. I’m so glad you were able to stand strong, and that you have people in your life to ease your way through this.

    • Thank you for your sweet words. and yes, it was a day I’ll never forget. Thankfully, there are few words and phrases I can actually recall clearly, and I credit where I was able to go in my head for that, for doing what I needed to do to avoid looking witnesses testifying in the eye, because I am one who remembers the best and worst of what I’ve been told with perfect clarity for years and years. I was protected from that, and am so grateful.

    • Thank you for coming by to read and comment, and for telling me how reading this made you react, its words like that which help me have courage to write my heart here.

  7. I think you should stand up when you have the opportunity and read every single word of this post in court. EVERY WORD. Any judge who would not consider you to be an exemplary mother and person after hearing these words doesn’t deserve to be on the bench.

    Love to you my friend. So much love.

    • I gasped out loud, in a public place, when I read this comment. While it’s not possible to read it to the judge, I am so grateful for the power behind the comment you’ve made. I may never understand why my ex is unable to see who I am, but I made every effort to show the judge and the courtroom what my character is. Thank you so much for your passionate support of me that day, the amazing @ replies and DMs. You know exactly how this feels, and having that kinship is priceless right now. Much love to you too.

    • Thank you, Shell. It stuns me, honestly, that I have endured what I have. It’s a testimony in no small part to my friends and their words, too. *HUG*

    • *HUG* Thank you for coming to read and comment, and I’m grateful that I could bless you by sharing these words. I hope they give you courage and peace.

    • Thank you so much, Maureen. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you recently, and I know you appreciate what I’ve dealt with recently. I’m glad I’m able to communicate those aspects well into writing, and I’m humbled to think my words are worthy of submitting, but I’ll give it a shot.

  8. No one should have to go through what you and I had to go through.

    Four hours of anything that devastating to the human mind and ego is torture. What your ex needs to realize is taht’s all public record. Your kids can read that whenever they want.

    My ex is still a nightmare. She’s worse than ever. I’ve decided when my 8 yr old daughter asks or just wants to know more, I’m going to take her to the Gwinnett County Courthouse, have her read the six hours of BS that’s on the record, and let her decide.

    I’m sorry you had to go through this. Musically, several bands/songs/lyrics got me through. More than anything, rebelieving in myself saw me to the light.

    Im so glad you wrote this out. Your kids will appreciate you even more.

    • Your comment in particular is so vital to hear. Thank you for reminding me that this is public record, and for the validation and encouragement you’ve given. I appreciate your support so much.

  9. One more thing…it gets better from here. Regardless of the judges’s decision, which we both knwo will be in your favor, now, the crap starts to get done.

    Believe in yourself, belive in your children, and start putting you and them first.

    • Thank you for coming by to read and comment, it’s not over yet, but it was good to realize where my strength was coming from, and when I realized it, it was important to thank them publicly. Thank you for being a part of the community I draw strength from. *HUG*

  10. I just went through my final divorce hearing last Monday, and while our settlement was pretty amicable, I felt so ashamed for asking for a divorce from someone who, I sensed, the judge thought a stand-up citizen (and me, some kind of flake). I stumbled upon your blog by linking through Write On Edge, and it was just exactly what I needed to read on this rainy fall morning. Thank you for your bravery and honesty.

    • I’m sorry you understand this from personal experience. And Im so glad you came to read, and to let me know it made a difference to you. Thank you so much for reading and commenting!

  11. Your blog was so beautiful! I could just feel your heart! You are so enough! And your giving thanks & credit to whom it was due is heartwarming. I am brand new to your writings; but the short time I’ve been connected to so many blogs just makes me want so badly to be a part of this great community of women sharing truths to help one another grow! I’m only a reader at this point; but there will be a day when I can write my story too!

    • I’m excited to hear that you want to write your story, and I’m so glad that you came to read and comment. Thank you for letting me know what you sense and how it made you feel, too. Looking forward to getting to know you!

  12. I can’t even fathom how hard that day in court must have been for you! I’m awed by your strength and so glad that you’ve found this community that can be your succor even when they aren’t there in person.

    Hugs to you my friend!

    • Thank you for your sweet words, and for taking the time to come read and comment. Thank you for being a part of the community that strengthens me and who I can reach out to. *HUG*

  13. Okay, yup, this is the one. The favorite post. You had me at hello. Crying.
    So beautiful.
    I am so, so, so, so, so sorry to hear that you went through that hell. It really touched me that the Just Be Enough gang was there in your mind and heart to get you through it.
    You my dear, are a miracle. And a very beautiful soul.

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