Resilience as a Way of Life

If living with disability teaches a family anything, it teaches us resilience. We can handle more than we think we can.
Photo by Healingdream
I‘ve been thinking a lot about family resilience lately. Maybe that’s because our family is getting a chance to flex those muscles of resiliency hard. It was good catharsis for me to write down all the things we’re dealing with right now, but I erased them because my words sounded whiney. The point is, we’re being pulled from many sides.

All of us are being pulled. Much of the time.

There is no point in letting it get us down. We are stronger than we think.

This week I took part in a support group for parents of kids suffering with a particular illness. It was lovely to meet other parents and hear their stories. We were all at different places in our journeys, but the current that carried the words around our table was one of resilience. These families tackled the challenges and kept their eyes fixed on the goal line. That’s something parents learn to do, and the more practice we have at doing this, the more familiar and comfortable it becomes.

I won’t say that it becomes easier, because that isn’t always true. Sometimes resilience is a difficult response that takes focused effort. But with practice, it comes more naturally.

I hear similar stories of stress and resilient responses in my disabilities circles. Life dishes out messy circumstances sometimes, ones that can get us down. It’s okay to cry for a time, especially early in a diagnosis when our hurt is raw, but then we need to pull on our rubber boots and wade through the muck. And we do, one step right after another. Eventually, we get out of the sloppy mud.

There is a lot we can do to draw strength during stressful times.

·         We pray. Hard. Faith often grows when we are stressed.

·         We make time to connect with our spouses. It might just be brushing our teeth together as we switch shifts, but we savor that time.

·         We take solace in our routine chores. After all, everyone needs clean clothes even if one of the kids is in the hospital. And the goats still need to be fed…just ask them.

·         We help someone else going through a rough time. The strength you can draw from this one never fails to amaze me, but I see it often. Parents who are working hard to keep their own brood in a sane place will offer encouragement or advice. That very act gives them energy to keep going. It is true for me.

·         We let go of the optional. We may have to post to our blogs less often (do you feel an apology hidden there?). We may have to back out of the carpool for a time or let someone else teach Sunday School.

·         Pet peeves are optional. Learn to let them go or see them differently. Kitty prints in the dust on the mantel normally send me to grab the duster. Right now, during a time that demands resilience, I look at them as evidence that the cat is alive. This makes them a good sign, right?

·         If you can’t set aside time to enjoy your hobbies (do I hear you belly laughing about now?), see if there is some way to build them into your temporary routine. I love to tat (that Victorian art of making lace with shuttles) and find it’s something I can do in the car while my husband drives us to the hospital. Well, that was before I injured my hand, but I digress… Above all, try to find things within your busyness that make you smile. Or even laugh.
·         We ask for help. If anyone knows how to do this, please share. I’m lousy at this one, but have heard it helps.

You are an expert at resilience. Would you share with us what helps you stay strong when the pressure is on?


Anonymous said...

That was beautiful! My strength, such as it is, comes from my faith, and my belief that my kids are my life's work, regardless whatever else I am doing. They keep me going. And I'm blessed to have a partner who shares the load.

Rose-Marie said...

Thanks for your kind words, Anon. You are so right about our kids being our life's work; we have a very important calling. I'm glad you have this mindset, strong faith, and a partner willing to help with all this parenting requires. All the best to you!

vlmaples said...

All I can say is AMEN, Sister! I have been blessed that faith is not optional at tough times; it is there and stronger than ever. and, as you know, we have had plenty of opportunities to "test' this. LOL Routines are paramount, and yes, optional falls away. Helping others always shifts my focus and gets me on track, all the more thankful for my blessings. I did not know you are a fellow tatter! :-) something timeless and comforting in shuttling a few moments of peace. I used to do a few loops on a cross bookmark to later give away. Hmm... might need to start that again! :-) As to asking for help, asking someone to cook for us always seems the easiest place to start; people love to cook to heal. ;-) With your situation, not sure if that would be practical, but that is where I start.

Hugs and prayers from Mississippi! :-)


Rose-Marie said...

Aw, Valerie, thanks! I appreciate your prayers and hugs so much! Great idea about asking for help with meals. Giving those wonderful folks who volunteer to help some specific way to pitch in is probably helpful to everyone involved. Thanks for sharing that thought!

I'm praying for you and yours that things are more settled now. :0)