Stoicism: the endurance of pain or hardship without the display of feelings or without complaint.
Resilience: the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
I was raised by resilient women who operate with a “logic over emotion” mindset. I didn’t understand this when I was younger. I would get frustrated because NOBODY would discuss their emotions like I wanted them to. I would vent to multiple family members about different topics and the response would be something vague like “well, you’re loved and taken care of, just focus on that”. WHAT? Yall, my feelings are hurting! I have a million questions about a million things! Help me process them. I think the women in my family are so stoic and resilient because that’s how they learned to adapt to life’s happenings. Any time they were faced with a hardship, they took on the challenge and handled it in the best way they knew how.
Thanks to mom & grandma, focusing on my education has always come second nature to me. Grandma told me to always pay attention in school so I can work a job I actually liked when I got older. Mom told me as long as I make a plan for my life and stick to it, that she would support me in every way possible. I feel like the only time I really, really had to put in work in my life was when I was recovering from my car accidents. Honestly, I loved the attention I received from my family during my recoveries. I felt like they were finally being emotional and showing their love for me in a way other than making sure I was safe and fed. They would ask me how I was feeling, if I was hungry, if I needed them to do anything for me; it was amazing. I mean, I knew my family cared, but the way they loved on me throughout my recoveries showed that they really, really, actually, whole-heartedly cared for and loved me.
*trigger warning - suicide & opioids*
My second car accident changed me. When I woke up in the hospital and saw the external fixator attached to my pelvis, I was soooo irritated. It was my senior year of high school! Graduation was in two months! Bye-bye prom, bye-bye senior pranks, bye-bye spending the last weeks in school annoying my favorite school administrators. In the hospital, I requested opioids around the clock. I was already familiar with different pain pills from my first car accident, but this time I was prescribed wayyyyy more. I was sent home with 3 different opioids and some other medications. I tried to overdose a few times. It never worked.
My family said I became more straightforward with my words and my facial expressions after the 2nd accident. I wasn't aware of that until it was brought to my attention. I tried to control my words and facial expressions around them. It worked a little. To this day, I'm still trying to control my words and facial expressions. It's hard.
I never told my family I wanted to kill myself because I assumed they would fuss at me and lock me in a church forever. Everywhere I went I was constantly told “you are so blessed, you are so strong, I am so happy you’re recovering, God really has a plan for you”. I agreed with them, but in my mind, I could only think about how I wouldn’t have to worry about any of this if I was dead. This thought increased when I had to learn to walk again.
My external fixator was removed on June 5th; graduation was June 9th. I was determined to walk across the stage with my classmates. The night of June 6th, I had to use the bathroom. My legs were soooo tired and my pelvic bone was so stiff that I felt like I couldn’t walk to the bathroom. I got in the wheelchair and made my way down the hallway. I got back in the bed and had a real conversation with myself. I could either learn how to walk again or I could spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair. I chose the former.
I replay that conversation in my head whenever I’m faced with any difficulty. I can either do something and reap the benefits, or not do something and face the consequences. It seems simple in theory, but it is extremely difficult in practice. And, being emotional about things we have to handle will only harm us in the long run. Yeah, feel your feels and manage your emotions accordingly, but make sure your responsibilities are taken care of.
In college I learned about trauma responses. I think my mother’s side of the family is so logical and loving because it’s a generational trauma response. When faced with doing something and reaping the benefits, or not doing something and facing the consequences, there’s no room for emotions! The women in my family are stoic and resilient! They handle their business and put their emotions aside. Unfortunately, I think the women in my family have neglected their emotions for so long, that they don't even try to process them.
So, when I saw these yellow beauties, I was reminded of life’s difficulties. I was reminded that life will beat us up, but we have to take it on the chin and keep it moving. Look at these beauties. It’s obvious that, like me and the women in my family, they have been through some trying times, but they are still standing strong and beautifully.
Strength appears in different forms – stoicism.
How I Apply it to My Life:
· Tough times are gonna happen, handle your responsibilities and keep going. Smile for the camera, cry in the shower.
· Mary Mary – Can’t give up now
SLIDESHOW: Little me, injured me, older me.