I made the mistake of taking off from my blog. So, I had to come up with a strategy to get myself to write on, at least, a weekly basis. I was inspired by the Ohio Players. I watched “Unsung” on TV One over the weekend and they talked about how they would choose a word and craft their song using that word. I love words, but I expanded my formula to include quotes to keep it fresh.
This blog post is about Resiliency.
What is it? It’s ability to bounce back from illness, depression or adversity. It has been the theme in my life, especially for the past two years. My life has been a rollercoaster of emotions that could’ve allowed me to keep myself in a negative space and surely added to my bitterness. Instead, I took each blow as an opportunity to understand myself, look inside and change my reaction. The gift of all my troubles is how I learned to love myself. I’d like to share what happened and how the events changed me.
Last year began with my mother visiting the doctor to have some strange bump on her foot looked at. Within a month, she was in the hospital on blood thinners and in the fight of her life against a very serious blood clot in her leg. The blood clot could’ve broken off and traveled to her lung or brain. My mother is the rock of our family, so it’s almost impossible to imagine life without her. My world was rocked. Time was no longer this abstract thing that I had to manipulate whenever I finally got around to it. Time was reduced to the beginning and ending of each day. I think I held my breath from the time I woke up until I could speak to her and know that she was alright. I researched everything the doctor mentioned so I could understand the seriousness of her diagnosis. Each morning, I put fear on as one would a jacket and wore it throughout the day. There is something jarring about the possibility of losing a parent. No matter what age you are, you suddenly feel alone in the world.
In the midst of this already emotional time, my cousin was wreaking havoc in my home life. For reasons unbeknownst to me, she dragged my name through the mud and took my kindness for weakness. This was a moment when I would normally turn to my mother for support, but she was fighting her own battle. I needed to support her at this moment, so I kept as much as I could from her. At that moment, I felt like all I should have to worry about was my Mom and I felt so much anger boiling inside me that there was no sympathy. I lashed out with a ferocity that surprised, even, me. It was hard to understand why so many personal and emotional things would be heaped on me at once. I used to tell myself that God never gives you more than you can bear. I was about to find out that that was not necessarily true. Sometimes, you have to be given more than you can bear to force you to lean on others.
In the past, I would’ve been depressed and told myself that I was a victim. This time, I didn’t do that. I was tired of beating myself up when life and other people got it wrong. I found a support group. I found a group of women that were in pain too and that had gone through equally or even more horrific moments in their lives. Sitting amongst that pain and listening to their resilience, let me know that I wasn’t alone. The room was full of survivors and fighters. Understanding that strength, it helped me to understand that what I’ve been telling myself all along has been wrong.
As time progressed, my mother had surgery that went very well. They were able to remove the blood clot and eventually, she was no longer in trouble. She was well enough, in time, to help me move from the home that my cousin was torturing me over. While I felt relieved, I couldn’t help but retain much of the anger from being treated as if I didn’t matter. I didn’t realize that I was causing myself harm by carrying this stress and anger in my mind and body. I moved out in May. I found out in June that I was pregnant. Anger and stress turned to happiness, except that my cousin was still threatening me and trying to come after me. My home situation wasn’t where I expected to be and some people were telling me that it wasn’t a good time to have a baby. I thought that the baby was going to be the blessing that came out of all this madness. I thought the baby would make it all make sense and worth all the pain. However, I couldn’t help but feel the uncertainty and stress of the situation despite my happiness.
I loved being pregnant. Despite the morning sickness and, the smells, it amazed me how quickly my body was changing and the magic of growing another human being. One night, I went to the bathroom. I noticed some spotting. I had read online that it was not uncommon during pregnancy, but I immediately felt fear. It increased and we had to go to the hospital. They ran tests and ultrasounds, but couldn’t say for sure. They said that my HCG levels should be tested in a few days to see if they increased. In pregnancy, HCG levels replicate every 48-72 hours. They advised me to visit my doctor. I could tell from the sympathetic looks that they were not confident. A day later, we were in the hospital again with heavier bleeding. Again, all types of tests were done and they couldn’t conclusively tell me if I’d lost the baby or not. I visited my doctor and they tested me. I was still pregnant, so the doctor told me that they needed to check my levels versus where they were in the hospital. He would call me with the results.
Early the next morning, I was getting ready to go to work. My boyfriend and I were sitting together as I answered the phone. The doctor’s voice was hesitant as he explained to me that the HCG levels were lower and that he believed that I had lost the pregnancy. He went on to offer different options if we wanted to try again, but I couldn’t hear his words. All I heard was failure. My body had failed me and I had failed my baby and my boyfriend. I felt like less than a woman. Here was something that I wanted more than anything and I lost it. In my mind, I had pictured everything. I saw tiny fingers and tiny toes up to arguing with her as a teenager. It was a crushing blow. It was something that I wasn’t sure that I could recover from.
For a moment, I spiraled into my old habits. I went into my victim mode and accused life of stealing one more thing from me. I will admit that this lasted from awhile. I didn’t immediately bounce back, but I was able to pull myself out of the pity party. It took talking to other women that had been through the same thing. It took love to keep me sane and pull me back to the point where I could appreciate the short time that I was given to be a mother to that child. Now, I can see it as a blessing. In a moment where I faced the fear of losing so much, I was given something truly wonderful to focus on. I was pulled outside of myself and my situation and I realized what was important in that moment. In that moment, I decided that no one and nothing will ever make me so stressed that I put my health at risk. I began to seek answers how to equalize my mind and not allow others issues to infect my own thinking. It was also then that I knew what I wanted out of life.
The year of 2010 ended with another trying period. The year started with an illness and ended with another illness of someone very close to me. I arrived at my boyfriend’s home one day to find him in excruciating pain. At first, I thought he was being overly-dramatic. I tried to nurse him to health. After a few hours, I realized that something was seriously wrong. We finally realized that it was his turn to make that trip to the hospital. From the other side, I now understand how helpless it is to watch people try to figure out what is wrong with your loved one. I wanted to scream and choke someone as they kept ignoring his symptoms in favor of a quick diagnosis. Nine hours later, they finally admitted him to the hospital and diagnosed him with a herniated disc. To shorten a long story, he was released a month later following physical therapy to teach him how to walk again. If anyone taught me about resiliency, it is most certainly him. He was determined to walk again and to get back home. He pushed himself like I’ve never seen anyone. I was by his side as much as I could be. And I learned something about myself in the process. You never know what you are going to do in a situation. I was compelled to be there. It wasn’t that I felt I should. It was that I had to.
Through all of this craziness, I was resilient because I have no other choice. When life knocks me down, I want to get back up. I want to strive. I want to triumph. I want to do more than people expect of me. It’s in my spirit. And maybe, that is what freed me. I always thought succeeding was an expectation put upon me like a burden. I was so wrong. Success is an expectation that is in my own soul and spirit. The problem for me has been in WHAT I was trying to be successful at. I was trying to be successful in being loved by everyone and being what everyone needed. That was my recipe for failure. In order to be what everyone else needs and wants means I have sacrifice myself and that is not my purpose on this earth.
Sounds like I learned the lesson, right? Not completely. Life had even more lessons to teach me in 2011. I believe that when you decide to make a change that life is going to give you an opportunity to turn back to your old, comfortable ways. That is what adversity is for. It’s the test we face to prove to ourselves that we are ready to change. But, that is another story for another word and another post. I hope that sharing this story helps you realize your own resilience.
Please reach out to me if you have questions or want to share your story. I’ll listen. Email me, my friends: firstname.lastname@example.org