Resilience – The Path Through Crisis
It’s not uncommon for a crisis to arise as the result of a traumatic event in a person’s life. For me, it was 1998, the year my parent’s split up. I’m not sure why this particular episode brought up some unfinished business from my past, but it did. As a manic depressive, or bipolar, as they call it now, my father wasn’t an easy person to live with. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to his bouts of manic or depressive behaviour. While this wasn’t the first time my mother had stayed with us because of my father’s condition, it would be the last. After seeking professional help, she was able to find out about her rights, and to get some counseling which enabled her to move forward without my father.
During this time, I found I also needed help to work through some of my own issues with my father. It’s hard to think that the man who spent a whole week’s salary to buy his little girl a doll’s buggy, was the same man who had the ability to hurt those around him and to make them fear him. He was my father. How did I reconcile the good with the bad? And just as important, how did I work my way through this crisis?
Brené Brown, author of Gifts of Imperfection, believes that spirituality is an important factor when it comes to overcoming a crisis. She defines spirituality as the belief in a power greater than ourselves, coupled with an interconnectedness, grounded in love and compassion.
Spirituality can mean many things to many people. For me, the power Brown speaks of is not somewhere outside ourselves, as she suggests, but within. Think of yourself as being a drop of water that holds all the same components as the ocean. We are the drop of water, while the ocean is the greater power she speaks of. That is how we are all connected. We all part of the ocean.
When I got involved in studying spirituality through books by such authors as Marianne Williamson, and Wayne Dyer, my world began to open up. Spirituality answered all my questions and taught me a way of looking at the world from a positive perspective, with an eye to a loving presence. Instead of feeling like I was living on the outskirts of my life, I began to feel fully immersed in it. Not only that, life started to unfold effortlessly. Because I was changing, I began to attract like-minded people in my life; my Kindred Spirits if you will, that I speak about in another post.
When my parents split up, and I was forced to deal with past issues, it felt like my world had come undone. After a year of living a spiritual life that seemed to unfold effortlessly, I couldn’t understand why this was happening. What I later came to realize is that spirituality isn’t about creating an outer façade of beauty. That is, while my house looked perfect on the outside, that didn’t mean that all was well within. My house had to fall into ruins so I could rebuild my life on a stronger foundation. It took me a year to work through this crisis. What kept me going was my new-found spirituality.
As it turns out, the very things that helped me so many years ago, are the same things that Brené talks about in her book:
HOPE is a way of thinking. I knew that if I was willing to work at it, I would and could get through my time of crisis by setting realistic goals (counseling); being persistence (I worked with a counselor for a year); believe in myself (I was determined to live my spirituality every day.)
CRITICAL AWARENESS is about being authentic to yourself and not getting wrapped up in how things may look to someone else. Outside of a counselor, I was ashamed to tell anyone the truth about my life during my time of crisis. What would they think of me; of my family? But when I took the risk and told a dear friend about my past, she loved me anyway. I couldn’t believe it was possible.
LET GO OF NUMBING Instead of running away from your difficult feelings, lean into them. Feelings that are not addressed, do not go away. They can emerge in other, more negative ways. But I also think that it’s important to trust your own judgement when it comes down to the right time to allow difficult emotions to surface. It took me thirty plus years before I was ready to tackle my demons. But it was the right time for me. While I don’t think I personally, did any numbing, before or during this difficult time, I did decide that I wanted to create a better life for me and my family.
If spirituality is the ability to believe in a force greater within ourselves, and is grounded in love and compassion, then anyone can learn to live a spiritual life wherever you are. At a spiritual book study group (like I did), while fishing, in a church, mosque, temple, or at home. Practicing spirituality has given my life perspective, focus and meaning. Added to that, it has quite unexpectedly, taught me how to be resilient.
RESOURCE: Gifts of Imperfection – Brené Brown
RELATED POST: Kindred Spirits – March 2015
RELATED READING: A Return to Love – Marianne Williamson.
Change your Thoughts – Change your Life – Wayne Dyer.