Guest Post by Deidre Hughey
: the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens
: the ability of something to return to its original shape after it has been pulled, stretched, pressed, bent, etc.
Resiliency is an absolute necessity to be able to live life to the fullest. Without resilience, heartache, disappointment, and yes, even love, would be debilitating. You see, to me resiliency is about understanding the essence of who you are and being bold and blunt with yourself. Being able to be grounded in that understanding so that when the ups and downs of life happen, and they will, you don’t lose yourself, but instead, come back better and stronger.
I’m 45, been married for 17 years and have 2 teenage boys. And at this point in my life, I believe…no, I know that I have an incredible amount of resilience, but that doesn’t mean I always have.
I’ve lost myself before. I have lacked that understanding…that knowing of oneself that is so critical for one’s growth, for one’s happiness. And for the sake of whoever reads this, I want to share two examples of when I lost and then found myself again.
I grew up on a self-sufficient farm in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia. And I loved growing up there! I loved riding horses, milking the cows, slopping the pigs and collecting eggs from the chickens. Chickens, by the way, are nasty, foul creatures (pun intended)…but that’s another story.
At the age of 12, I was still uncertain if Santa Claus was a real or fictional being. In fact, most of the kids in my class ridiculed me for believing, but I needed to believe, because Santa always gave the best presents! But it was at this innocent age in my life that my resiliency was first tested.
One day, I was playing hide-n-seek with some kids in town. There was an older boy in the group and he told me that he had a great place to hide and swore no one would find us if I went with him. After a few minutes of following him, I had warning bells telling me that something was wrong.
Every person, whether male or female, should be taught to listen to their gut. Unfortunately, I hadn’t been given that lesson.
Without disclosing the graphic details, he stood over me with a 2×4 in his hands, threatening to kill me if I didn’t do everything he said and told me he would kill me if I ever told. I endured his attacks for 3 months.
I didn’t find myself again until I was 16, suicidal and diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and bipolar depression. At the insistence of my therapist, I committed myself to a psychiatric institution. During my 14 week stay, I learned that I had value and worth.
At 18, I fell “in love”, got engaged and I blindly moved with my fiancé to two different states. I say blindly, because these weren’t discussions, he moved and I went with him. His needs became my needs, his likes became my likes. He did drugs, so I did drugs. He raped me, I stayed. He cheated on me with a co-worker, and suddenly, I remembered that I had value.
I left, but didn’t realize just how lost I was.
I still remember very shortly after I got my own apartment, walking into a music store to buy a new CD and realizing that everything I picked up was a group that I knew he liked. When I asked myself if I liked it, I didn’t know the answer and it shocked me to my core. I walked out of the store and went home realizing that I had once again lost myself. That very moment was the true start to my journey towards genuine self-discovery and sharing…a journey towards true resilience and bold self-awareness.
And now, at this point in my life, I wake up every day knowing who I am, what I stand for and the strength that I want to impart to other women. I know that part of being resilient, to be able to shake yourself off after a challenge, is also understanding who you are and who you want to become. This is not so you can go back to the person you were! Instead, this is so you have a launching pad from which to grow during and after your challenge.
There are three questions that you can ask yourself to help increase your personal resilience and resolve for your life…to become the leader you’re meant to be.
Every day, ask yourself:
- What do I believe?
- Who do I want to strive to become?
- Who can I help today?
Above all, embrace your answers…be bold with yourself and with those around you. Love who you are now and trust your gut. Trust what you instinctually believe to be true. Because in the end, it is true for you and will help you to be the best you can be for yourself and everyone around you.by