When I was getting my Master's degree in counseling, I began reading a bunch of information written by Frederic Flach about resilience. When two people experience the same tragic event, for example, what allows one person to perhaps "recover" better than another? I hung onto his every word, believing particularly in the pieces in which he spoke of how people seem to "bounce back" quicker and better from traumatic events if they have at least one confidante and a good sense of humor. I happen to believe that your odds are doubled if your confidantes also happen to have great senses of humor, but I'll keep my opinions to myself. This phenomenon of resilience makes sense, right, and might not seem so mind-blowing, but I have always tried to apply the concept to students I taught or even colleagues with whom I work. Resilience and adaptation to change may be fairly closely related, then, as we see people everyday in our life and work respond to change with attitudes that would lead us to believe their entire world was turned upside down, while others take the change in stride.
Flach has done much more work in the field since that time, talking to survivors of war, natural disasters, abuse, and much more and his findings have led him to some interesting thoughts---some that make me go "hmmmm".
He says that he believes that every time we experience trauma, severe illness, death of a loved one, war, or any other life-altering event, we should actually expect to go through a devastated process of feeling sad, terrified, angry, etc. But instead of coming out "on the other side", he says we should actually expect to become a "new whole"---I liken that to a "new normal".
My experience with breast cancer taught me so much, and, for the last two years, I have been walking the walk, doing the next right thing, taking the medications that were prescribed for a not-allowed-to-get-near-estrogen body and telling people I was "fine". In actuality, I truly am doing fine, but it's definitely not the same "fine" as before the diagnosis. My body is different, my emotions are different, my "I don't take any medications" mantra has been altered, but I am surviving, mostly because I still believe in those key pieces of resilience of which Flach spoke way back when. I have a close cadre of soul-sisters and soul-brothers (and my biggest human rock, in the form of Dave), I have a sense of humor that is a God-given life-line, and speaking of that higher power I choose to call God, I have a faith that gets me through some really tough moments.
I'm grateful to have rediscovered Flach's work in a just-in-time moment, and I encourage anyone going through any sort of stressful moment (he says it doesn't have to be big or monumental, but the stress can simply be everyday worries and troubles that tend to get people down) to take a look at his work.