The American Psychological Association describes resilience as an adaptation in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or stress: family/relationship problems, health problems or workplace/money issues.  The Merriam-Webster definition would have us believe that resilience is an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.  Dictionary.com points to an ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy. 

Interestingly, I find my closest resonance with my ongoing health crisis not in the dictionary, or in spiritual writings, but in words from the Harvard Business Review.  Resilience was defined there as the ability to recover from setbacks, adapt well to change and keep going in the face of adversity.  Diane Coutu eloquently explains in her writing “How Resilience Works,” “Resilient people possess three characteristics — a staunch acceptance of reality; a deep belief, often buttressed by strongly held values, that life is meaningful; and an uncanny ability to improvise. You can bounce back from hardship with just one or two of these qualities, but you will only be truly resilient with all three.  Resilient people and companies face reality with staunchness, make meaning of hardship instead of crying out in despair, and improvise solutions from thin air. Others do not.”

Though the study of resilience is fascinating, I’m not sure we will ever truly understand all that true resilience means.  This could be in part because based on the course of our individual journeys, resilience can mean different things to different people.  Many people believe that optimism is the foundational block of resilience, but only to the extent that it shapes your ability to go on….not when your optimism blocks the facts and reality about your current situation. 

I can assure you that there has been nothing buoyant or elastic about my expedition from illness to recovery from Lyme Disease, Babesia, and now Bell’s Palsy.  I looked to see if perhaps pissed off could be a synonym of buoyancy…… but alas…no.  Horror, frightened, exhausted, pain-ridden, memory impairment, air hunger?  No….none of these things are synonymous with “readily adaptable” or “buoyant” or “easy to adjust.” 

However, at no point during this time have I come even close to throwing up my hands and giving up.  If you feel despondent at yet another health setback, does that mean you are not a resilient person?  I think not.  I believe feeling the depth of despondency and hanging on to understand there is a deeper meaning to all of our experiences even when we do not understand every nuance is a definite quality of resilience. 

As someone who was raised in the Christian faith, I’ve had some interesting comments from some well-meaning (?) Christians and also from some from the belief system that we bring on our own illnesses.  Those comments alone could cause a downward spiral of self-doubt and self-punishment.  It is discouraging to do everything right in terms of recovery and still suffer a major setback.  It’s sad to look into the mirror and over the course of less than 24 hours experience a quantum leap from a normal face to one that is completely paralyzed on one side.   But the thought that I brought this on “myself” is ludicrous. I’ve never believed in the theory that we are “blessed” when we do good and “punished” when we are lacking.  I feel there are many people of faith that wield their faith like a light saber or magic wand.  Faith is not being “saved” from adversity.  Faith is how we respond when we are in adversity.

I do believe there is meaning in all of these experiences.  I believe there are lessons to be learned and many lessons that I have already learned from this journey.  I believe that I better understand the depth of my “fierceness” and the breadth of my faith.  I know that there is a grace in relaxing into the flow of the unknown and strength in learning when to say no.  I face clear choices each step of the way.  Here’s just one tiny example.  In November I had the pleasure of hosting a five-day virtual summit for caregivers.  I videotaped interviews with 14 caregiving coaches before the summit.  During that experience, I realized I had fallen head over heals with the interview process.  My intention was so start highlighting video interviews on my website right after the first of the year and began lining up coaches and consultants to interview.  My health put a temporary hold on that idea, and then Bell’s Palsy brought it to a screeching halt.  Now, I could have ranted and lamented the “why me Lord, why me?”  Or, find other things to accomplish in the meantime. 

My Spiritual journey has certainly changed throughout my adult life.  There has been a shedding of some things that no longer serve me and an embracing of new truths.  These truths are literally all around us all the time, but we need to test them to find out if they are absolute truths or only truths for certain situations. I’ve gained in strength and inner clarity throughout this process.  Teachers come to us as they are needed AND as they are desired.  Our interactions with each other can teach us about ourselves and who we truly are, and if we allow it can ultimately guide us to our truth.  I become ever more comfortable with my intuitive process as I navigate this journey.  I’ve learned to slow down, be more intentional and less the perpetual multi-tasker.  Whether these will be permanent lessons for me or not will be shown with time.  What I do know is that it will all unfold, just as it should.

 

{I have been asked by several people to please speak to the specifics of how I am approaching my healing journey.  As intentional as I am becoming generally in my life, I am intentional in my healing process.  I’ll be posting later this week to start to address some of the steps I am taking to repair the damage of the Lyme, Babesia and of the Bell’s Palsy.}