Just Embrace the Suck

My beloved father died a month ago.

It was the pickle-flavored icing on the crap sandwich that has been my last two years (quick recap – brain cancer, suicide of a very close family member, multiple instances of family illness).

To conquer this latest loss, I did what I normally have done and started researching. Thank god there are so many places to find ways we can build resilience!

The NYT says exercise makes you more stress resistant! I work out all the time. Doesn’t help right this minute.

The NYT also says learn new skills! I am constantly learning new things. It’s my job. Doesn’t help right this minute.

This article explains that there are So. Many. Ways. to build resilience! Oh good. Tell me more about how I need to be stronger, that I will get sick, that falling apart is bad and I’m doing something wrong.

Resilience has become a charged word. Yes, we need to build it, yes, we are in a moment in our world where it is being tested like never before and yes, being strong and able to bounce back is better for you. But when people say to me wow, you are so resilient, I feel less pride now and more anger. I didn’t want all this to happen. And I don’t want to have to work hard right now to get over it. I don’t feel like getting over it. Yet I know I will.

My dad used to say, don’t just do something, sit there. He was right. Taking time to mourn, taking time to get angry, taking time to feel victimized; those are all part of building resilience too. Resilience doesn’t have to be stoicism – it can be feeling your feelings and stewing in them, for a short while. It can be learning what your own personal struggle looks like and what your coping mechanisms are in order to better understand your reaction to hardship.

Then as you come out of it, you can see how you bounced back. How you feel better. How you made it through. Hey, I do change out of my pajamas now by noon. Sometimes. But I am also starting to think about the good times – how my dad showed up for me, every day. How overcoming cancer gave me a sense of purpose that I didn’t have before. And that I CAN overcome, and I do have resilience. And you all do, too.

A good friend of mine said the other day that we need to embrace the suck. This has become my new mantra. The suck sucks. It’s ok to sit in the suck. Just remember to get back out, at some point.