Yesterday morning, it was 6 degrees. This morning, it was 50. Life is exactly like that, constantly shifting and changing. You never know what’s around the next corner. I was talking to my new therapist yesterday about resilience: the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness, or the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity. I was telling her that I’d always assumed that the more hard things I experienced and survived, the stronger I’d get. Kind of like how lifting weights makes your muscles stronger. However, I explained, I feel like my experience has been the opposite — the more difficult things I live through, the less tolerance I seem to have for difficulty, the less able I seem to be to bounce back, the more worn down and weak I feel.
I also explained that my baseline now seems to be “waiting for the other shoe to drop.” I don’t experience joy or ease very often, but am rather waiting and preparing for the next bad thing to happen. I’ll be honest, part of that is because of my increased awareness of our current culture and climate, and my growing sense that this could get so much worse before it gets better, and that “better” isn’t something that even seems possible most days. Part of it is after leaving my CSU job after 19 years, I am suddenly confronted with all the things I’ve been able to avoid, hard things that happened but I haven’t fully processed yet.
Some days it can feel impossible, overwhelming. I thought I’d been doing the work, practicing and studying and evolving, but for all the work I still feel pretty unstable, unprepared. My therapist shared a theory she has, explaining there’s no research to support it, that it’s just an opinion from years of living and working with other people and their issues. She said she thinks when it comes to resiliency, we are like rubber bands. At first, we are supple and strong. We can stretch to our limits and snap right back into shape. As we are exposed to the elements, our experience, we lose our elasticity and can even be stretched to the point that we break.
It reminded me of something I wrote in a Wild Writing class. This is the relevant part:
“Bend and let it go over you.” I keep coming back to this when I’m teaching yoga — that balance isn’t about finding a fixed point and sticking there, stable and still, but rather it’s about all the tiny (and big) adjustments we make to keep from falling over, to stave off collapse, and how even collapsing, giving up and going over, is part of balance. We fall over, we soften into it, and then, if we’d like, we get up and try again.
It reminds me of the story Pema Chödrön tells about her teacher, how she asked Chögyam Trungpa in a moment she was having a really hard time what she should do, how to handle it, and he told her it’s like standing in the ocean, how each wave crashes into you, knocks you down, takes you in and under, but you get back up. And in time, you get stronger, you learn to move with the waves, and instead of feeling like you are drowning, like it’s so bad and so hard you are going to die, you are able to move with it, to meet and ride the wave. Bend and let it go over you.
This is one of my favorite things about blogging, being a writer. I so often find the answer I need, the wisdom I seek, the love I’m lacking in my own words. Some previous day, I took the time to write down what I was thinking or feeling or what I’d learned, and while it was relevant in that moment, sometimes the greater need comes sometime later. On some future date, I find exactly what I need, something I already knew but had forgotten. Today, these words I wrote were exactly the reminder I needed. Even more importantly, they remind me that the magic and the medicine are inside me, that the foundation I thought I’d made for myself is there, that I can trust myself to move through this.