As a four year-old I was quite obviously in charge of keeping my head safe by escaping. I had the Itty Bitties; I had the bats. I also had glorious cows to watch (ah, a daytime activity), from the tippy-top of an enormous pile of dirt. Our neighbors were farmers and I’d spend hours up there, waiting, scrutinizing. For some reason, I made a part-time career out of cow observation. Now, there was no MOO-la in it, of course, but I was praised by the farmer and his wife every time I’d spot a cow who was also, coincidentally, escaping – from the fenced-in pasture. The praise was worth more than any amount of money. Oh, how sweet, tantalizing and delectable it was! Better than the most delicious kind of cheesecake. Of course, if you don’t like cheesecake, then you’ll have to think of your own analogy.
Looking back, I realize how adept I was at finding ways to liberate myself from emotional pain. I found so many methods! Cow observation, bat contemplation, and mouse conversation! Mouse conversation? There was an adorable mouse that showed up many nights to chew through the outside-facing wall of my bedroom. I’d talk to the little critter on the nights he or she showed up to make more holes, his or her cute pink nose poking through them.
Well, all this writing about overcoming, escaping, the ability to deal with what life dishes out, led me to think about adversity. Adversity is the best blessing, a wonderful teacher, if you choose to see it that way.
Kids are pretty tough beings, that is true enough, and if I think about what I had to learn how to handle as a child I’m amazed. But what’s more amazing are the things I’ve had to battle as an adult. Oh, the adversity-versity!
Once I’d been broken-in by the abuse I received from my family, it was easy enough for other abusers to get hold of me. I am still stunned by the number of abusive people I’ve pulled into my life. I never knew, I never saw, but thank God now I do. My original abusers were disguised as parents and other family members. Later abusers would be disguised as schoolmates and friends – as teachers, guidance counselors and other school staff. And of course, much later, abusers would disguise themselves as boyfriends. The worst abuser of my life showed up around age twenty. Me – my very self. And of course the most awful part of that was that I had no idea I was abusing myself. Well, if abuse isn’t adversity I don’t know what is.
But it doesn’t stop there, I’ve had to face the adversity of being very physically ill, from the moment I was born, pretty much. There are days I can barely walk and doing dishes is an accomplishment. Oh, I shall not forget discrimination. There is more of that adversity stuff. I’ve been discriminated against for having mental health issues and physical health problems alike – one just as trying and painful as the other. What’s surprising is how common this is – it happens all the time. The weak ones really do get it!
But then, like a phoenix does rise from the ashes, you can choose to view adversity as your best friend, as a patient and loving teacher, as a wise guru. From an abundance of adversity determination can come. From determination, a few small successes. From the few small successes, CONFIDENCE. From confidence, more success. And from that, a life really worth living. Time, time, time. It just takes time. And then, you don’t feel weak anymore, you feel STRONG.
I’m not sorry my body is sick. I’m not sorry I’ve been abused – physically, sexually or emotionally. I’m not sorry I’ve suffered terrible psychological suffering! I’m not even sorry I’ve felt the sting, many times, of discrimination. In short, I’m not sorry for the adversity that’s shown up quite a bit in my life. On the contrary, I am blessed by it.
Adversity is a lamp that lights the way out of darkness. I am blessed by adversity.