According to dictionary.com, the definition of resiliency is “the ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.”
It is my belief that our circumstances from childhood formulate and mold our reactions to life situations and personality traits as we mature into adults. In some cases these traits can be our greatest strengths. If we are not mindful, they can also become our greatest weaknesses. This is something I learned from Steve and I see that in myself. My resiliency developed from my childhood experiences and for the most part has been effective in getting me through life’s challenges.
Part of my resiliency is due to my single minded focus when trying to accomplish a goal I have set for myself. When I worked for IBM, I had a client that called me “gum in the hair” whenever I would try to resolve a technical issue for her since I would leave no stone unturned and was relentless in finding a solution for her. This singular focus has served me well in helping me be resilient and bounce back from adversity many times in the past.
However, there are times when it works against me. In some situations, there comes a point when my mission has become fruitless and it does no one any good (myself included) for me to continue on the path I started. My challenge is to know when to give up so I can take a step back and re- evaluate the approach I have chosen.
Of course, when it comes to adversity, there are many who are far worse off than myself so I can only speak to my own reality. In 2007, I was diagnosed with tonsil cancer and went through surgery and a grueling six weeks of radiation therapy. Steve was by my side and he was my rock. He would make trips to Sloan Kettering in Manhattan fun and a great adventure for me.
I thought cancer would be my biggest cross to bear in my life. But now, I think it was an exercise in resiliency to prepare me for what was yet to come in 2015 when I lost the love of my life, Steve, to suicide. Not even eight months after Steve had passed, I was faced with another major health challenge, one that I must battle without him; no more great adventures to see the doctor.
Now, as I look beyond the empty examining room chair that Steve would have occupied at the doctor’s office , I must focus on the faces of the good friends I will lean on to bolster my resiliency. These friends, who have been by my side every step of the way since Steve passed, will make sure I will never be alone in dealing with the health challenges that lay ahead of me.
Coming back from cancer with Steve at my side now seems like a piece of cake. Currently, I am faced with the prospect of battling an incurable, progressive disease without my partner while I am still grieving his loss. Even though it has been over a year since Steve passed, I still breakdown multiple times a day thinking about him and the wonderful life we had together.
Right now, my failing health symptoms are a manageable level of daily aggravation and frustration and the impact on me pales in comparison to the loss of my soul mate and best friend.
However, facing this disease without Steve by my side making me laugh along the way, will be the truest test of my resiliency, but…
I am a survivor.