Real Talk: Emotional Strength

Over the weekend, my cousin Neela was killed in a car accident. For all intents and purposes, she was my little sister – and the kindest, most loving young woman that I’ll ever know. We grew up under the same roof. I don’t have a single childhood memory without her. And I had the true honor of watching grow from a tiny baby, to a mischievous toddler, to a spunky little girl, and into a brilliant, independent woman. Part of my heart is missing, and will always be gone. I will miss her forever.

I never gave much thought about emotional strength.

Physical strength is obvious (and a downright necessity, when you have a toddler running around). Mental strength has always been a priority. I always wanted to be smarter, learn more, and back up my views with facts.

As such, physical and mental strength were attributes I worked on. I exercised (on and off), read novels and newspapers daily, and pushed myself on both fronts. Which may have involved a Barry’s Bootcamp class and reading the National Review.

All in the pursuit of growth.

But I was blissfully unaware of emotional strength, until a complete and utter meltdown last year.

It wasn’t pretty. And it left me raw, drained, and in need for a major change.

After a lot of reflection, one thought hit me like a ton of bricks.

Emotionally, I had the strength of a twig. I had never really faced failure. I’ve always had an incredible support system (parents, husband, in-laws). And I had never been emotionally challenged.

Postpartum depression was my first real emotional test – one that I faced with the help of exercise and medication to rebalance my neurotransmitters. But I had initially refused therapy in those early months. I didn’t think I needed it, and the thought of sitting and talking about my feelings felt…not me.

After my aforementioned revelation though, I decided to give it a try. And it was the best decision I made all of last year.

Therapy gave me a safe place to treat myself with compassion and kindness. It was my chance to open up about all the things that were bothering me – everything from my fears about my business to the fact that my hamper was overflowing and I was out of clean socks.

Most importantly, therapy gave me tools and exercises to build up my emotional strength. I learned how to calm my monkey mind, combine meditation with reflection, and treat myself kindly.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. And my emotional strength won’t grow into a mighty tree overnight either.

This weekend was the first time my emotional strength was fully tested. It’s been the most difficult 48 hours of my life so far, and I’m still standing (though utterly heartbroken). I’ve taken time to withdraw and grieve. I focused on the random logistics for my family when I felt up to it. I cuddled my son – a lot. I hugged my family hard.

And I promptly made an appointment with my therapist.

Sometimes, the greatest strength is to admit you can’t do it alone. And to ask for help.

I’m going to need a lot of it.

Please call someone you haven’t talked to in a while and tell them you love them. Not tomorrow, not next week – today. I wish I had one more chance to tell Neela how much I love her. And how much I miss her.

image via

  • Shirsha

    Hi Hitha, I am sorry for your loss, and I wish you and your family much strength in dealing with the grief and the loss. And thank you for your honesty.

  • Kailey

    I’m so sorry for your loss. Take care of yourself

  • Sharon

    Hitha, I am so sad for you. I hope you and your family continue to grow your emotional strength and support in this time. Sending you loving thoughts.

  • Laura

    I am so sorry. Thoughts are with you and your family. Hugs.

  • Jennifer

    Greetings Hitha – I am so sorry for your loss. I have a cousin who’s like the third sister in my family, it would be devastating to lose her. Sending thoughts to you and your family.

  • So sorry for your loss, Hitha. Your beautiful words are a testament to your emotional strength and to the amazing role Neela played in your life. xx

  • Danielle Huntley

    Hitha, I am so sorry to hear about the death of your cousin, Neela. The death of a young person is brutally crushing. I will keep her and your whole family in my prayers. May her memory be eternal.

  • aarushi

    So sorry for your loss Hitha. I wish I could say that things will get better. There have been times where I have woken up in tears, where I’ve had vivid,real dreams and there have also been times where I’ve felt her presence around me. Let me tell you though, life does go on, and you will always have her by your side.

  • Tajohn Johnson

    I’m really sorry to hear this. My prayers are with you and your family. Having lost my Dad this past September I know how painful this can be. Take strength in all the good memories of your loved one.

  • Julia

    Saw this in the news and your post and put it together … I cannot imagine what you must be going through. Hang in there Hitha. And keep writing – use your gift for all of its cathartic powers and know that your words are inspiring others.

  • Kelly Hamm

    Oh Hitha… ouch. I’ve also reached out for therapy before and found help to grow my resilience to failure. My heart hurts for you. I hope the loving memories become all the more vivid as you heal from your loss.

  • Jessie Buckmaster

    Hitha there are no words. Death brings a whole dimension to emotional development, it’s impossible to predict how the grieving process will play out. Therapy will be so helpful to sort through everything, just take your time and be patient and compassionate with yourself. Sending love to you and your family.

  • Jennifer Horner

    I’m so sorry for your loss.

  • Katherine

    I am sending you so much love and so many hugs xoxoxo

  • Meems

    My heart is breaking for my internet friend. Neela knows your limitless love. Praying you find peace. Thank you Hitha for trusting us to support you during this tragedy. You are an amazing woman!

  • I’m so sorry for your loss. You and your family are in my thoughts. Thank you for your honesty.

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  • So sorry for your loss, Hitha. It’s times like these that do test that emotional strength, and it’s wonderful that you chose therapy after your PPD– therapy is something that I truly believe that everyone can strengthen and grow from! I sure know I was thankful to have had that strength built up from therapy when I lost my father this past summer– that emotional strength and self-awareness is sometimes the only steadying rock within a storm of unexpected life events <3

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