Resilient?

A friend suggested that I give a talk at a conference entitled “Women Of Resilience.” I wasn’t sure why she would think I would be an appropriate choice for a speaker. I wasn’t even sure about the meaning of the word—I had a vague notion that resilience had something to do with strength, which seemed odd.

She said, Look what you endured, how far you’ve come. you’re resilient.”

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I was skeptical. I looked up the definition

According to the Dictionary.com, it means, “recovering readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyant” and Merriam-Webster defines the term as “tending to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.” Synonyms for the word include strong, sturdy, bouyant, irrepressible, adaptable.

I would agree that the bloody brain counts as adversity or misfortune. But I wouldn’t say that my recovery was quick or easy. It’s been more than ten years now, and I’m not fully recovered. In fact, there is no full recovery from severe brain injury. I’ll never be the person I was in my past life, which actually suits me fine. Life is certainly harder than it used to be, but the bad patches are tolerable. Also, I like myself much better now—I would describe myself as more human. And I’m without a doubt more comfortable in my own skin. Nope—I would not want to revert to the old Deb.

I don’t believe I was bouyant, but to be sure, I looked that up as well. Wordsmyth’s definition was “marked by lightheartedness or cheer,” which made my hackles rise—when you feel like crap, you are not cheerful. Yes, I joked about it at times as a way of coping—one can’t be miserable the whole time. In fact, there were plenty of times when I was actually happy. But the word cheerful implies I was jumping up and down for joy. Nope, I definitely wasn’t joyful.

Was I strong? Did it require strength to make it through to where I am now? Possibly, in some sense of the word. But I’m a tad uncomfortable with that term. In the early days, most of the time, I felt as if I was merely existing, barely managing to put one foot in front of the other.

Nope, I don’t feel resilient. I’m just me, a survivor. But I couldn’t deny that some aspects of the word did apply to me. I thought I might as well send in a proposal to speak at the conference—the organizers could judge whether I fit their notion of resilience or not. It certainly couldn’t hurt.

Not only did they deem me a good fit, but they seemed excited about the prospect of me giving a presentation.

I spoke of my journey through the frustrations and the tears, the obstacles and the triumphs, the grief and the joy. I told them of the gains as well as the losses.

And I got a standing ovation.

Perhaps I am resilient.