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Resilience Rediscovered

“I don’t feel strong, and I certainly never asked for permission to be.” This is something I have repeated to myself often. Resilience has been an ever-present subject in my life and continues to serve me. The unfortunate reality is that my resilience developed through a lifetime of traumatic events outside of my control. As a result of repeated exposure to trauma, I had no other choice but to become resilient and either conquer it or be swallowed by it. Anyone who knows me knows that I am an optimist by nature, and I love to build others up. This is easy for me especially when all is well in my life. However, after the death of my husband, I found those things increasingly difficult to engage in. In fact, I rarely felt like myself and did not recognize the pessimistic and hopeless individual I had become. I knew without a doubt that the whole experience had calloused me and hardened the compassionate happy person that I authentically am. I was easily sucked into self-pity, anger, and resentment. After all I lost the one person that defined my whole being. However, I reached a point in my suffering and despair where I knew I could not stay in that place any longer. I had to get back to myself and get in touch with the things I love about myself. The first thing I did was create a healthy mind and space. I even tried Skydiving for the first time.  It made me feel free and unrelented, and closer to Joe. I started to attend counseling and joined a grief group. Once I started to heal from the grief, I decided that grief and trauma did not have to be my entire focus. I decided to join social events and groups that I found to be enjoyable. I opened my own practice and started networking. I met like-minded people and through this I was able to increase the connection in my life. I decided to start saying yes to social opportunities and new adventures. This was not easy at first. To be honest, laying in bed and waiting for my turn to die was much more comfortable, and I could have easily gotten away with it since I lived in a new state and town and only knowing three or four people. I’m sure no one would have noticed for a while, but I knew that mind set would only keep me sick and stagnant, I had to start saying “yes.” I also started to take care of my health to improve my mood. I took note of my reactions and insecurities to build self-esteem and develop a sense of self-worth. Resilience in that last year for me has looked like vulnerability, saying yes and engaging in social events, going to Vegas, going to Mexico, going to Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, states that I have never been too prior. I started investing in myself and my life. I opened my own mental health counseling practice, I sent myself to trainings I thought I would never be able to do because of circumstances at the time. I went to my first professional baseball game; I danced in the street with strangers and laughed with people I never knew. I immersed myself in other subcultures as a spectator and grew to love and understand others more. So, while tragedy has historically been present in my life I have learned to lean in and embrace change.  Today, I choose to embrace the winds of change and love myself enough to face fear because I am resilient! I choose to live life better than good and to live it to the fullest.   

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I am proud of my big sister and all your accomplishments and the growth and healing you are planting and tending to your soul garden I love you sister. Your little brother Matt

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