Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Energizer Bunny

“Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it's less good than the one you had before. You can fight it, you can do nothing but scream about what you've lost, or you can accept that and try to put together something that's good.”
Elizabeth Edwards (UK)

"You're my hero, you know. You just keep going and going and going," they said to me. And I nodded. And I smiled. "What else am I supposed to do?" I asked to no one but the air, the wind, the trees and the grass. It was a rhetorical response meant for deaf ears. Because the alternative to "going" is an option no one is willing to consider.

What does it mean to be resilient? What would I have to do to be considered otherwise? Friends, women and family look at me sometimes with wonder and awe. They show respect for my suffering and admit their admiration of my talents and persistence. And I am truly grateful and humbled by their praise. But I can't help but wonder, who or what defines strength? And why is it something to be admired?

Was it resilient of me to see a therapist for 4 months after my miscarriage?
Was I strong when I broke down in my car at the CVS parking lot because I saw three pregnant women and wondered why not me and then debated whether or not I should speed my car into oncoming traffic?
Was I heroic the first, second, OR fifth time (yes it truthfully has been that many) I quit my "real"job to be able to manage the other full-time gig known as scleroderma?

Or was I weak? Is asking for help an admittance of failure? Is the consideration of suicide an admittance of worthlessness? Is quitting or running away a sign of giving up?

I don't know. Perhaps.

But perhaps the strength lies in the fact that instead of filling the anti-depressant prescription, I wrote poems instead. Perhaps my resilience is defined by the fact that I drove back to work and taught three more classes with a broken heart and smile on my face. And maybe my heroism is found in the acceptance of my limitations and my willingness to let go.

Either way, I still can't help but be confused when people tell me: "You just keep going." Because truthfully, "What else am I supposed to do?"

I never did any of the things I did with the intention of being admired, much less become anyone's hero. I did them because like my mother says "no me quedaba de otra." (I had no other choice.) I could put in a new set of batteries and keep beating my erratic drum, or I could stop. Stopping was not an option.

So instead, I beat my drum loudly and march to its beat at a pace that is comfortable for me. I write to survive. I laugh to keep from crying. I love to feel at peace. If that is resilience, then yes, I am resilient. If that is heroic, then yes, I am heroic. And if strength is defined by my ability to get up every morning and do it all over again and again, then yes, I guess I am strong. I do it not for praise or admiration. I do it simply for no other reason than the fact that I really don't know what else I'm supposed to do.

But perhaps too, that day in my car, the many times in the ER and at the hospital, at least once a month in my bedroom and even a couple of times in my classroom, when I let the tears fall and tell no one but God and the silence that I can't do it alone, that I am the most resilient of all. Sometimes, the most heroic thing we can do, is admit that we are weak.

1 comment:

  1. Nicely said. We keep going because that is all there is to do!