“What gives you your resilience, Diane?” my friend from Minnesota asks me quite frequently. I never know what answer he is searching for. I never know what will scratch that itch he has.
“What do you mean, Gary?”
“You have not had an easy life, yet you continue to bounce back–time and time again. How do you do it?”
That is too big of a question for me. Yet, my mind races back to the accident that leaves me stuck in bed–day after day. The driver’s seat was ripped off its bolts; I was thrown into the backseat, shaking uncontrollably, while still attached to the driver’s seat. The windows all around were gone. The rear end smashed beyond repair by that truck loaded down with 35 appliances.
“Don’t drive that truck when you’re overloaded,” the boss told the driver a couple of days before the impact. “The brakes won’t hold.”
If it weren’t for the heavy generator in the back of the Cavalier, my seat would have flown into the grill of the truck–I’d be dead, instead of pondering my friend’s question. That was almost twenty years ago.
“Di, how do you keep getting back up and have such a happy attitude about it? Many people would fall down/give up and realize they had nothing left for them because their old life was gone,” he continued.
Thoughts of those nightmare years of lawsuits flooded my brain. Then, after the lawyers took their share, the doctors’ theirs’, I was left with only a pittance to buy a little place in the country out of that $250,000 I was awarded.
I moved to the forest in a little cottage with a lovely meditation brook, with no one to bother me. Finally, I had peace. The most glorious peace I had ever felt in my life. Sure, I was broken from the accident. Sure, I was struggling to come back after a head injury (the second one). And, the next ten years left me with an unidentifiable illness which only added more disability to the disability I had already incurred.
But, I had peace, silence, nature, animals who thought I could walk on water–even on the days I could barely crawl out of bed. There was time to think. . . . Time to dream. . . . And time to find that hope again, that I had lost so long ago. Oprah and Eckhart Tolle taught me how to be happy. I practiced that every day–every single day. I focused on the rich, vibrant colors of the flowers of spring and summer, the fresh air, the butterflies, and birds. My animals would do something goofy, and as soon as I caught myself laughing, I laughed harder, I laughed longer, and I would laugh so hard–had I been around anyone else, they would have thought me to be barking mad. I learned to grow those chemicals in my brain that needed so much care and nurturing to thrive. Negative thoughts would hit–some days hard, really hard. In my brain, I’d be screaming STOP IT! I’d scream until all I heard was the screaming, and . . . the thoughts would fade away. It became easier then. When those old, tired tapes of the horrors of my life would start up and play, I’d listen, and then ignore them–focus on something different, brighter, happier.
I found Long Ridge Writers Group online–a school to teach me how to write for magazines and journals. They gave me as much time as I needed to finish the course, “Breaking into Print.” Still not sated, an online search led me to Southern New Hampshire University, which has the best writing program in the country. That was the best decision of my life. My brain is stronger, clearer, and my confidence has returned. I’m no longer a person on disability with no goals/no ambitions. I’m a person with a wonderful future ahead of me. I’m a writer. I have a lovely cottage in the country. I have animals who love me beyond anything else in life.
Sure, I can’t stand or sit for long periods, I don’t look the same, my personality has changed, and my house is an absolutely disaster of clutter that can’t be tamed, but push those negatives aside, and I have the whole world open to me–a whole wonderful world of possibilities that I call resilience.