Resilience is something I’ve thought about a lot recently.
I find that when I’m in an emotionally or physically hard time, I think about what I’ve overcome.
The first time I really recognised my resilience was after a car crash years ago. I should’ve been far more damaged physically than I was, but I wasn’t. My body protected itself at the time and healed. I imagine all that hurt and pain slowly knotting together and covering over with a scar tissue of resilience. When I think back to the accident I feel it all over again, but it’s less painful each time. The bruises faded, the cuts scarred – my body recognised the hurt, but it healed and got me back to myself, albeit with the occasional twinge to remind me that I’m not invincible. When I hurt myself, which happens rarely thankfully, I remember that I’ll heal, that my body can fix itself.
I think about this during yoga, when we breathe into the joints, into the muscles that hurt. That it hurts now, but that my body will become more resilient to this, it will stop hurting and aching and next time it’ll be easier. I ease into the discomfort knowing that I’m building a tolerance whilst building my muscles – knowing that my body’s been through worse and come out stronger on the other side.
But then there’s emotional resilience. Recently I’ve been spending time with people who remember different parts of me – more on that another time – but when they recount experiences that I’ve forgotten it makes me think about how my brain has stopped me from remembering the weeks spent with a guy, or the time one literally picked me up in a bar. I’m often aware of how my brain protects me from thinking about things that emotionally distress me – like the loss of people close to me – but I hadn’t thought about it in the context of men.
When I first truly had my heartbroken I was 21. I held onto that relationship so tightly that I remembered everything with painful clarity. The way he held me, told me he loved me, the cute names he called me, the way he stroked my face and my hair, the day he told me he wasn’t happy, the week leading up to him leaving, the day he left and the look on his face. When I type that now I still get a lump in my throat. It took me an agonisingly long time to get over him, even now I think if I saw him walking down the street my heart would shatter and I’d lose my breath, but I’ve managed to love other people and be with other people since. I am more resilient as a result of feeling that heartbreak so harshly.
I can tell that I’m more resilient as I uncover truths that my heart and brain have hidden from me. Things that it would’ve hurt to remember, I don’t remember. My brain wraps them in this emotional scar tissue for long enough so that when I’m reminded, it doesn’t hurt anymore.
Knowing that I’ve made it through physical and emotional trauma gives me strength. I’m in a situation currently that hurts me daily in an often light, but occasionally severe, way but knowing what I’ve been through leaves me feeling comfortable that I’ll come through the other side. I think we’re like those thirty centimetre rulers that we had in school, we bend and bend and bend under the weight of our problems and pain but then something magic happens – we spring back, stronger than ever, ready to get on with our lives.
Humans bounce back; we hurt, we protect ourselves, we heal and we move on. My heart heals itself with the eternal optimism of the romantic that I am, and I’m grateful for that every day.
The comeback is always stronger than the setback.