I always used to tell my mom, “I want you to live one day longer than I do, because I don’t ever want to live even one day without you.” Then I lost her. One year ago this week.
And though I miss her every single day, I have learned to adapt to life without her. Because when bad sh*t happens, that’s what we do. We re-acclimate to whatever “new normal” presents itself, and we plow forward. We have days that take us down, and sometimes we surrender to those. But mostly, we carry on.
Often, things have to crack for the light to come in, and some random opportunity spawns from the hell that, when you’re in it, feels insurmountable. That’s resilience. It’s what my beloved mama spent 60 years teaching me.
Resilience lives in all of us. If we’re self aware, we may already have acquired the tools we once learned that can help us plow our way through the darkness, when it falls. The tools we know we know, but have long forgotten, from lack of practice. If you sat down to make a list, I’ll bet you can name at least a dozen coping mechanisms you once learned and maybe even practiced, ’til you didn’t feel you needed to flex anymore. So you filed away for a rainy day.
For many of us, no matter the circumstances, that day is here. The one where we have to…that we get to…practice our resilience.
Think about a horrific time in your life from which you never thought you would recover. But you did, and through the struggle, you learned how to re-adapt to new surroundings and a whole new set of circumstances you never signed up for, but can look back on and be proud of. Even when it was so stinking hard, you thought it might kill you. But it didn’t.
Pulling ourselves back up and rising from the ashes no matter what, reminds us of what we’re capable of, when we don’t have a choice. That’s how we grow, even when we’d rather pull the covers up over our heads and eat Sno Caps, for breakfast lunch and dinner.
Though we know deep in our bones that there is opportunity for growth in every fall, the desperate crawl to higher ground is never easy. Embracing change and the unknown is how we climb the ladder that gets us to the next place.
It’s never easy when you lose your footing and find yourself sliding down on your tush, holding on for dear life to nothing but thin air. (Been there. It sucks.)
Here’s my personal prescription for getting through the tough stuff:
- Self-acceptance. Who you are and what you do is enough. Don’t try to do it all because you will fail. Be OK with what is, rather than what isn’t anymore.
- Sit in your grief. When one chapter of your life closes, don’t push it away. Feel it. Deeply. When you’ve mourned enough, your mind and body will tell you.
- Who you are and how you choose to move on is up to you. Give yourself a break. And know it’s a process that will ebb and flow. See #2. Repeat.
- Don’t allow yourself to be a victim, no matter what.
- If you’re a woke human, you’ve probably learned lots of coping tools. And you’ve likely forgotten most of them, because your brain is constantly on overload. Go dig that sh*t up. Blowing your own mind with what you once learned but can’t remember ’til you need it is a fun game to play. To remind yourself that everything you need to survive a life-altering situation already lives inside you.
Chances are, you will get hit again, in one way or another, and then learn how to re-adapt to those new circumstances. Because you got through the last one. Maybe even stronger than you started.
THAT, my friends, is life. And I’m so grateful to the woman who gave me mine. Even when I want to kill her for dying.
From the campfire and beyond,