One day, I was struggling to put on a pair of high top shoes. My toes were curled up, my foot would not move. I was getting very frustrated. Armando, sensing my frustration asked, “why do you keep using those shoes if it’s too hard?” . At that moment, all I could say was “because they are cool”.
Later that day, I had more time to chew on the question “why do it if it’s too hard?”. If I don’t do something because it’s hard, I won’t be doing anything at all.
Many of the things I do are difficult. Taking a shower, getting dressed, cooking and going up the stairs are just a few examples.
Resilience in the face of resistance
The American Psychological Association (APA)defines resilience as “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress — such as family and relationship problems, serious health problems or workplace and financial stressors. It means “bouncing back” from difficult experiences”
Stroke recovery is not linear. There are moments when I feel victorious, conquering every obstacle that comes my way. I have celebrated small victories like being able to use a can opener and making dinner on my own. Sometimes, all I could do is get out of bed.
My own brain tried to kill me and now it’s sending the left side of my body false messages: No, you can’t bend your leg, no you cannot use your fingers separately. So, everyday my job is to retrain my brain to how to properly communicate with my body. The resistance is sometimes hard to fight. But I plug along everyday.
I get frustrated, depressed and angry. I’ve had goals met and goals I just wasn’t able to complete. I have cried myself to sleep too many times, my poor husband is probably thinking I am slowly losing my mind. Then I wake up the next day, if ever so slowly I get up and out of bed and face my challenges head on.
Resilience for me is not a choice, it’s a necessity. I can have a positive outlook on everything, but without having the ability to recover from setbacks, positivity will not be very helpful. Resilience allows me to learn to adapt & adjust, reset my goals and start over. Resilience what prevents me from wallowing in failure.
I would like to think that I have always been a bad ass bitch able to bounce back from anything life throws at me. Alas, I was not. I was a hot mess of self-pity and internal loathing. I eventually found ways to gain confidence and strength. This hot mess became a hot momma. Then BAM! The stroke took that confidence away.
I had a choice: either curl up and slowly whither away or put on my (clean & pretty) big girl panties and fight this shit. Resilience is not something developed overnight.
I am blessed to be surrounded by loving & supportive family and friends. They help me keep my head up when I feel that I am losing this battle.
I have goals I haven’t met, no matter how hard I’ve tried. I have not given up on them, but I have adjusted and re-adjusted them so that my goals are manageable. Giving myself room to take a break is crucial to my mental and physical health.
The APA gives these guidelines on how to build resilience. It does not happen overnight, but resilience helps in the long run. Our lives will be fraught with changes and surprises, some good, some bad. Our lives will be affected either way. It is how we react to these changes that shapes and forms who we become. Resilience is strength from the inside. It is power we cultivate, exercise & grow.
How do you practice resilience? In what aspect of your life you feel you need to be more resilient? Let me know in the comments below.