Orginially published on April 8th 2009 in my old blog (less than 1 month after loosing my precious Isabelle) on the infertility website I was part of. I however wanted to repost it here as a reminder for me and for others that we can start to learn to heal slowly but surely.
We've all heard the old saying "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger". Personally, in the moment of a difficult situation I know I would have loved to have slapped the person who came up with that line. However when I sit back and dissect the sentence I realize that it is as close to reality as any group of words can be.
With everything that my little family has gone through over the last couple of years I wondered why is it that although I am devastated by the loss of my little girl I am able to keep going forward. I know that I am emotionally exhausted and I have moments where tears roll down my face so fast that a towel is needed to wipe up the little puddle but why am I still able to stand on my own two feet and begin to take pleasure in life again.
So I looked at this sentence again and under the assumption that this has to do with emotional strength rather than physical strength I thought the following;
"What doesn't kill you.."; I am still alive and so something must have been gained from this experience because if it had killed me, well for one I wouldn't have had to heard this for the umpteenth time but more importantly I wouldn't have had to use my thoughts and emotions to push forward.
"...makes you stronger."; My thoughts and emotions can they be compared to resistance bands and barbells as tools to develop emotional strength instead of physical strength?
We all know that the more we exercise our body the more physical strength we obtain. So I wondered; can our emotional strength also be developed? And if so how?
The tools we carry in our minds to get through our lives are usually based on experience. However usually when the above saying is heard it because we have been hit with a new situation and our mind starts to wonder how we will get through this new loss/failure. Our mind starts to work so fast that somehow it manages to ask a million and one questions that we do not have answers to and one tends to think about how we are going to get over/through this newest obstacle. I think that it is here than one can begin to exercise of the emotional mind.
It is at this point that we make our choice to either strengthen our emotional mind or let it remain a soft pile of grey matter. In reality we have 2 choices; 1) We can say "Poor me...there is no way I can make it through this newest disappointment/loss/failure. I simply can not handle this" or 2) We can say "This is devastating but I can handle this" and find our personal ways to handle it and develop our own personal tools to strengthen our emotional mind. I believe that I have always chosen #2.
After my husband's cancer diagnosis in January 2007 I started telling friends the following; What am I going to do? Sit at home crying and saying poor me which really won't get me anywhere or won't help anybody or 2) I can look at my life and realize that yes this sucks but I have a chance to use this experience to help myself grow and perhaps help others. I choose the latter.
Through counseling, my own self stubbornness, my needing to talk and my experience I think I have developed the tools and emotional strength I need to get through this newest devastation.
Through counseling I have learnt; i) that feelings and thoughts I have had are normal and important, ii) that some of those feelings and thoughts are important to hold on to and others should slowly be set free, and iii) that this experience will allow me to focus my life on what is truly important to me.
Through my own self stubbornness I have learnt that I am a fighter and nothing is ever good enough.
Through my needing to talk I have learnt; i) that I am not alone, ii) that people have experienced worse than me and iii) support from friends is the most important.
Through my experience I have learnt that NO experience is insurmountable if I allow myself to use the pain, the sadness and the fear from past experience to develop the tools to exercise my emotional brain...What hasn't killed me has made me stronger.