Perhaps some would not consider resilience a virtue. I certainly never did until today but as we put our summer vacation on hold and drove almost three hours back to Edmonton it was one of two words I felt described myself.
Some of you who are reading this are aware that in recent months Ben and I were holding out for something BIG. We felt that Edmonton was done with us as we were kicked out of our house and had some major shifts in employment. It seemed like there could be no other answer than that God was preparing the way for something good – a big transition, which would finally break the cycle of transience and unsettledness. I wrote in this post about the fear that came with that and how while it seemed too good not to be true…it also seemed too good to be true and as it turned out, it was, indeed, too good to be true.
We were left flat. We received the news on the day before we had to be out of our house. Grieving in silence, it only seemed appropriate that the only person there to help was our nanny, whom we paid to make sure the kids didn’t get into too much trouble. Alone, slowly, painfully, and with tear-filled eyes we packed away the rest of our belongings into a storage container, cleaned every nook and cranny and left the house with a resemblance to our souls – empty. And while we were so grateful for the friends that housed and fed us whilst we waited for the storage container to be picked up, we still felt incredibly lost and heart broken. Disappointment again.
Resilience is the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress. It means “bouncing back” from difficult experiences. Not getting a job may seem like not that big of a deal to many but for us it was so much more than that. If you have followed our journey at all, you know that we have been wandering for a very long time. We have been waiting for our turn – waiting for blessing, better luck and answered prayers. People will comment that we are so strong (in reference to our disappointment in life, because they know just what shitty luck we have had or in reference to our sweet Ella’s birth) but the truth is, and research proves this, that resilience NOT extraordinary but rather, simply ordinary. We all have it, some of us just have to practice it more.
The American Psychological Association says that the greatest factor in resilience is having caring and supportive relationships within and outside the family. These relationships create love and trust and that encouragement from those people can bolster a person’s resilience. I am so thankful for my family. We’ve all had a rough go of it. They know what to say and what I’ll punch them in the face for saying. They know when to say nothing. They are constant, despite all of our moves and transitions – they come visit me wherever I go. I am also thankful for friends along the way. I don’t have a lot of friends, but the ones that I do have are so incredible and have been there when I needed them. I hope I can do the same for them one day.
The APA also suggests that one way to build resilience is to see change as a part of living. I used the analogy in conversation with Ben today, of a novel. Some novels have really long chapters while others, you can read a chapter in less than 10 minutes. That’s how I see our life. Every couple of years (or less), we have to transition in some way, be it home or job or both. Interestingly enough, then he commented that he thought that our story was the type with long chapters because to him, it seems like we get stuck and can’t move forward for a very long time, which is also true.
The APA gives other suggestions, many of which, I suppose, have helped me along the way. Trauma, tragedy, stress and disappointment is never easy but we will always have resilience – all of us. We keep motoring on because, quite frankly, there is nothing else that we can do. Would I rather wallow in self-pity? Of course I would! But I have three little ones who are pretty excited to NOT be leaving Edmonton or their friends, so instead, I will heed the encouragement, “Take care of [myself]” and I will buy the expensive pretty-smelling soap because, dammit, I deserve it!
Punch the Sun!