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Resilience, the trophy no one wants

My parents divorced when I was 5. I vividly remember the day my Dad left. After the divorce my Dad will start to walk away from his children entirely. People say oh kids are resilient, they adjust. I mean they do adjust but isn’t that just survival? We adjust because we have to in order to thrive. Surviving takes resilience, but resilience shouldn’t be something we are applauded for, it’s not something to celebrate. Instead those of us who are resilient should be given the grace to grieve it. The freedom to explore the trauma that forced us to be resilient. We should be given the confidence and support to say, that part of our story was really fucked up and I am not ok. We should be giving our children a voice to express their resilience. We should be holding space in schools and homes for them to not be ok. We shouldn’t ever have to pretend be ok when we aren’t, especially as children. We should be taught that it takes strength to show up as the most un-ok version of yourself and ask for help. We need normalize mental health evaluation. Therapy should be as important as seeing your pediatrician for a well check. Mental health resources should be accessible.

Some will read this and think, divorce? that’s no big deal. I can tell you that to a child divorce is a very big deal . I’m not saying stay in marriages that aren’t working. My parents divorcing was probably better for me in a million big ways, but that doesn’t minimize the fact that as a child it was hard to process. One day you have a whole family and the next day you do not. Children don’t have the emotional capacity to understand the complexities of adult relationships. All they know is love is simple. Children see love as an untarnished, freely given thing. If they don’t get help or the tools to navigate it all it can be really confusing.

I did not adjust well to the divorce, or any of my childhood trauma. I definitely did not do what was expected of me at home or at school most of the time. I was angry, sad and confused as a child. I was attempting to sort out and understand my grief around a father who didn’t want me. (Which by the way I didn’t know was grief until around the age of 35.) I was expected to go to school, focus, and pay attention. I was supposed to be a good girl and follow the rules. Meanwhile everything inside of me felt like the rules were suffocating me. I felt like those rules and expectations were asking me to pretend like my life was ok. My body, heart and mind did not feel ok, I was not ok. I learned at a young age to fake ok-ness in order for everyone around me to feel more comfortable. Those very big adult expectations were asking me to not unravel or show emotions in school, at home or anywhere. I was a child trying to understand why everyone else’s Dad’s adored them but mine couldn’t bother to even call me let alone see me. All of my unheard and unresolved sadness would compound and build into a raging, vengeful teenager. That teenager would grow into a still angry young adult women, and continue to wage war on those around her well into her thirties.

So yes, I am resilient. I have continued time and time again to survive despite my circumstances or whatever traumatic event is thrown at me. However, Resilience is not my super power, that was my tool for survival. I’m not surviving anymore. I am living. My superpower is diving into my deep dark trenches and healing myself piece by piece. My super power is in my new found vulnerability, which is the opposite of resilience. I don’t want my legacy to be about how I bounced back quickly after traumatic events, that was the band aid to keep myself going. I want my legacy to be my vulnerability. I want to be known for sharing my messy and hard. I want to normalize falling apart and feeling everything. I want this world to stop asking us to be brave and strong and closed off. I’m ready to help people rip off their bandaids and bleed. My purpose on this earth is to hold space for people as they unravel. I’m not in the business of fixing people up, I’m here to help them break it all down.

Let’s make vulnerability the new resilience, because the more we share our messy, the more we free up others to feel ok and do the same. I’m hopeful for each of your undoing. May you rip off your bandaids and bleed out all of what you’ve held in for far too long. ✌🏼

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