“Part of being a family is that we can be strong for each other.”
– Bruce Wayne, Gotham
Season 5, Episode 8, “Nothing Shocks”
This quote comes pretty late in the series, towards the end.
Throughout the entire previous show, we’ve had Bruce and Alfred largely operating out of Bruce’s family home, Wayne Manor. But a truly crazy man just blew it up in the previous episode. Their home, an iconic location in the story, and the physical embodiment of Bruce’s ties to the past, to his parents, is gone. Alfred feels like he is to blame for that, because he wasn’t strong enough to stop it. So, his determination is never to be that weak again.
That’s what prompts Bruce to say the above quote, and it rings with truth. To Alfred, it’s a reassurance that he doesn’t have to be “the strong one” in this relationship. Indeed, there is no such thing, or there shouldn’t be. We’re all weak at some point. That’s why we need each other to rely on.
The very fact that we have our relationships in the first place is proof that we shouldn’t even attempt anything so unhealthy as to be the stronger person, the one who is never weak, who cannot be weak because their loved ones are counting on them to be strong and so we must carry the entire weight of the world on our shoulders alone and never bend a knee nor shed a tear nor bleed nor laugh nor…!
You see what I mean? 😉
It’s not okay to do that to oneself. Eventually, we’ll break, and then what becomes of our loved ones? For their sake, just as much as our own, we must learn to lean on them.
Being strong for each other cuts both ways: it means letting ourselves be weak enough to need them.
There is no shame in being weak, especially when it’s only sometimes. That’s what family is for, to be strong for each other, and to be relied upon.
Of course, it is also not okay to wallow in our weakness and use it as an excuse for bad behavior, but that is very different from letting others be there for you.
All of this strikes a chord in me, personally, because of how often my family has been strong for me. It has long been one of my deepest desires to be strong for them in return. I have no idea how well I’ve succeeded in that, but I will always try.