Life Unmanageable...

I wrote this entry over a year ago...but felt it had value today. I hope you find it helpful :)

I had originally planned to write about addiction today, but the events of my day have led me to contemplate a thought that I wrote about yesterday even further.

Everyone experiences loss, pain, and trauma at some time in their life. It's universal. Regardless of what your feelings are regarding religion or doctrine, there can be no argument that everyone experiences these things at some point, often many times, in their lives.

I've also noticed that there are a myriad of ways of dealing with and facing challenges, trauma, pain and loss. Some people embrace the pain and make their home in it. They become bound to the pain until it begins to define their normality. Eventually, life becomes too heavy to deal with because the pain is overwhelming and holds the person down from new possibilities.

Other people feel the pain and loss yet struggle uphill to overcome and move on. While they feel pain and hurt just like the first group does, they CHOOSE not to be defined or bound to it. It is simply a rest stop along the road to where they want to go--a dirty, smelly, unpleasant rest stop with a long line that may keep us off track for longer than we planned--but it does not become the destination.

What is the difference between these two groups? (I know I am oversimplifying this...there are far more than two ways of responding.) I believe that the difference between the groups is something called resiliency.

I first learned about resiliency in my college Intro to Sociology about 13 years ago. Resiliency, according to sociologists and psychologists, is the ability to spring back from and successfully adapt to adversity. Apparently the amount of innate resiliency within each person is as unique as their fingerprint. Each of us possesses some amount of resiliency although differing amounts.

Two questions beg to be asked, and the answers sought after:

1. What are the habits of the highly resilient personality?

2. Can these traits/habits be taught to others who possess less?

I don't know for sure, but my guess is that there is a set of traits unique to the highly resilient personality type that seems almost innate. Similarly, I believe that once those traits are identified, they can be taught to others. It is by practicing the art of adaptation and bouncing back that we continue to move forward even when bad things happen in our lives.

I have lived an unmanageable life. That means simply that I am human and things have happened that were outside of my control, many of which left me feeling hurt, diminished, or angry. But somehow I have managed to cope, adapt and change to these things.

Like an impressionist painting is compromised of many individual dots, each trauma or experience we face is random by itself. When I choose to focus on a singular event, not only does it hurt, it lacks a point of reference, value, and beauty. But when millions of random dots are put together on the canvas of life AND a step is taken back to look at the big picture, the complete piece is a thing of beauty and awe.

That is how life is. Each moment, plucked apart from the whole, appears meaningless and potentially ugly. Stepping back, taking a deep breath and relaxing allows me to see the bigger picture (still only in bits and pieces) and to appreciate what is really going on.

Failure does not have to be ugly or catastrophic. Pain need not be a roadblock to life. It is only when I allow myself to accept failure as part of learning and growing that I can become better than I was, and when I allow pain to deepen my sensitivity to those around me it frees me to move on and to encourage others to grow and do the same.

Life is unmanageable...but our response to it doesn't have to be.


COH said…
"Like an impressionist painting is compromised of many individual dots,...
...But when millions of random dots are put together on the canvas of life AND a step is taken back to look at the big picture, the complete piece is a thing of beauty and awe."

What a great metaphor and message CiCi! I'm definitely going to share that one with my art teacher sister, too!

p.s.-I wonder about this topic often-you will often see siblings on the show Intervention, where one who experienced traumas in childhood turns to drugs to escape, the other one a totally different path, a straight and narrow one, even though same traumas experienced. Too bad resiliency doesn't come in pill form, that would be a great thing to be hooked on!

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