Mount Mansfield in the morning on the way to work…the fog, the ‘silver lining” all seems right here!

What is resilience? I think I have it!

I have always been told that I am resilient. I do believe I am but I am not fully sure how I became that way but I have my ideas. I do know that when something bad or upsetting happens to me, I start thinking about the best way to work around it or how to manage it best. I start doing some fast math to decide how I want to react. I am looking for cues about how the situation occurred and what can I do to leverage a good outcome.

Here is an example. I knew my marriage was over. I knew we would be divorcing soon enough so I started grieving and going to therapy early on to help me “work through it”. I figured that the kids would mostly end up being with me since thats the way it already was for the most part. I started making purchases while I had more money that would help me in the long run. I got both the girls a laptop and a phone( so they would have them through highschool). I got everyone’s shoes updated to fresh ones. I took care of the dog’s shots. I made sure I had my own bank account. I bought a car in my name only( to help my credit history be more individual). I paid off credit cards etc…..you get the idea…

I did NOT wait til the moment of divorce to get these things done. I started adjusting my sails literally years before it happened. I didn’t deny my situation or to pretend it wasn't happening. I just started shifting my goals and planning ahead. Nothing I did was to speed it up; if things had changed, all those preparations would have been harmless and still good moves for the long run.

Now I am divorced and I have new goals that are made to set me up for success later on. I am 53 years old so I know that I want to pay off my condo early. I am doing this now while I am at my youngest and strongest. I hope to have it paid off in less than 7 years. It would put me at 60 years old. I keep my nose down to the grindstone so that later, if anything goes wrong, I will still be ok and in good financial shape. I do NOT assume that everything will stay the same. I expect things to get harder or that I will not be as active later. Its not a negative thinking thing — its a “ why would getting older make me MORE likely to be able to do more?”… Logic says to prepare for less energy.

I am catching on to the idea that this MAY be “self-care”. I struggle with what people mean by certain terms but I am getting to realize that “self care” is taking care of MY needs. This is how I do it. I foresee my needs and plan accordingly. Resilience entails that, in my opinion. I am this way for me and my needs. Being unprepared or not dealing with an issue hurts me more than anyone else. I don't want that kind of victim life.

So how do you start thinking this way? Think about a problem you have. It may be a physical injury, a money problem or a job situation. Think about the symptoms or scenarios that this problem creates. Pain, embarrassment, financial woes. How could you start to fix it? Do you need Dr Google? (it can help you figure out where you need to go or what type of doctor to see- I don't believe its a waste of time), would it be good to decide what kind of personality type you are dealing with at work? Do you need a certain amount of money by a certain time? How can you set yourself up for success?

Start heading toward a resolution of the problem. Don’t wait for some divine intervention….Look to yourself and begin making the moves to get you to where you want to go or to how you want to respond to a problem. I treat the problem similar to a disease. I treat some of the symptoms while I look for the underlying cause. (can you tell I am a nurse?) If you can get to the root of the problem, all the symptoms will go away with it but sometimes you need to control some of the symptoms of the problem while you look deeper. For example, if you keep coming up short on cash for the month — you may need to work some overtime to take care of the symptom of lack of cash but you will need to find where the money leak is to really stop the problem. Maybe you eat out too much or you have trouble saying “no” to the kids. That may be your root problem that REALLY needs to be fixed. Working extra one month just buys you time to figure out a new plan.

I will tell you one thing that may be a bit of a bummer…..my resilience has come from trauma and abuse as a child. I am not sure that always maneuvering my response to life and situations is “normal” but it has kept me on my feet and kept me sane through some bad stuff. They say that its not what happens to you but how you respond to what happens to you….. I guess that is true for me. I feel like maybe resilience is a mixed bag. Its like flexibility on crack. I have to try to not always be too flexible because I will stay way too long in a bad situation by just adapting to it, or I will be too flexible with parenting because I just keep working around any pushback… Its tough, the thing that has “saved me” has also kept me in unloving relationships too long and has allowed me to take a bit too long to figure out that I should just leave.

Its why I titled this, “ I think I may have it”…..its the good news, bad news….I want people to know that if you aren’t as resilient as you want, it may be because you haven’t been pushed into it and that is more than OK! Resilience and the flexibility it entails is a tool. The hope is you know when to use it and when to set it down.

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LeShea Lavigne

LeShea Lavigne

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