Resilient and Unstoppable in 2023
I often joke with people that they’ll need to sign a waver before I tell them my origin story. It’s that tragic. When you grow up in a hurricane home, your normal is defined by addiction, violence, depression, neglect, and cruelty. Pick your poison. I remember the earliest years of my childhood as a time of survival. When you’re always looking for somewhere to hide from the hurricane, you do not have time to worry about toys or friends. Instead, you just find your way through the darkness around you. You learn how to leverage pain into strength. You fight like hell to make a better life for yourself. You devote yourself to cultivating a great life for the people who become important parts of your circle.
Resilience… Oh, a word that’s thrown around like a softball these days by those who’ve never even encountered an afternoon thunderstorm in life. When I think of resilience, I always connect it with deep emotion. You see, resilience isn’t about emotional numbness in the face of adversity. No, resilience is about feeling…. Deeply experiencing the hiccups, the falls or missteps, and the bitter defeats of life. Resilient ones have tremendous pain in their muscle memory, yet still find ways to get up, move forward, and claim some real high ground in life. To be resilient is to get beat down by the hurricanes, only to have the heart continue to seek or create some sunshine “in the morning.”
2022 will be remembered as a year that tested greatly the resilience for the ones I love and for me personally. From mental health challenges of those close to me to a big “move in together” for my two kids, to the hubby’s significant back surgery and recovery, to the sudden death of my father-in-law, my loves faced some storms of their own in the year that was. None of us want to see our people face some incredibly difficult challenges, do we? The beautiful thing is this: my loves – and yours too – continue to demonstrate tremendous resilience in the face of adversity. I’ve watched them leverage the pain and upheaval to better themselves, gain a little more mastery of life, and show so many of us that storms can knock you on your ass but cannot control you – cannot keep you down – unless you give them that kind of power over you.
And me? This year featured a major accident, multiple surgeries and a grueling recovery, and an ongoing engagement with physical therapy. Some days I cried in pain. Some days I felt so angry about my personal setback that I wanted to rip the house to shreds. But here’s the thing… I’m resilient. I AM UNSTOPPABLE. Remember, I lived through an interpersonal hurricane at an age when most of you were pouring your Lucky Charms into a bowl and settling in for Saturday cartoons. My resilience is built upon the complex emotions I encountered in those years of survival. The pain made me tough as nails, resourceful, and ultimately undeterred by any squall that’s rolled into my life since the hurricane years.
My advice to all of you at the precipice of a new year? Learn how to lean into your pain, instead of trying to steer around it. Learn how to claim the hardest parts of your stories, instead of denying their existence. Name your hurricanes – give them life – so that you can tell others how you found your way through them, cleaned yourself up after they dissipated, and soldiered forward with life. People will appreciate your authenticity. Your team will trust you because of your willingness to be vulnerable. You will teach people that resilience is about feeling all of the hard stuff, not creating numbness to it.
You are resilient… UNSTOPPABLE… when you learn how to use the bad in your story for the good.