Friday, 14 May 2010
There's endurance and then there's ENDURANCE.
I just read about a 69 year old South Korean woman who finally passed her driving test after 960 tries.
I shook my head and laughed before realising that there was a time in my life that I may have done the exact same thing.
Kept trying, that is, until I finally made it. Whatever it was. No matter how long it took me.
In fact, I am convinced I came into the world with the inherent belief that “you never give up, you bear it and get on with it until you achieve it.”
Endurance. It’s something to aspire to. It’s character building, right?
That belief system worked well for me for a lot of years.
In fact, if you had asked me some years ago whether I thought there was anything impossible to achieve I would have said no. I believed that if you tried hard enough you could get the outcome you wanted. Eventually.
However, that’s all very well when you are facing life with just a little adversity thrown in for good measure. But what happens if you are facing ADVERSITY with a big bloody A the size of which you’ve never seen before.
Like most people, I eventually found out the answer. The hard way.
The Universe in all its wisdom decided to give me a big ol' adversity test to wipe the smug smile from my face. And, as I was to learn, endurance and being courageous is not all it's cracked up to be.
The Universe's choice for my big A test was presented to me in the guise of a tall, dark, handsome and, on the face of it, very kind and loving man. Except, as the world turns, he was to prove to be a Jekyll and Hyde character which you can see on any TV crime show on any network, in any country on any night of the week.
Get the picture?
What started as heaven somehow slipped into hell. Given my belief system, and the fact I didn’t know quite what I was dealing with, I stayed in this toxic relationship and gritted my teeth through the terror of it, developing some kind of warped hostage mentality, until it was too late to get out and nearly ending up 6 foot under.
I can distinctly recall thinking while in the grips of this drama that if I tried hard enough and did the right thing it would be fine because that’s how it had always worked for me. I clung to this belief and wouldn't for the life of me let it go. I just had to try harder and harder...and endure it...and more...never giving in or up until everything was alright with the world.
Malignant hope is such a double edged sword isn’t it?
However, like the best of fairy tales, there was a beginning, middle and thankfully an end.
And luckily for me the ending was way better than it could have been. Like the good English proverbs say, adversity makes strange bedfellows, hindsight is always twenty twenty, all things must pass, better safe than sorry, a trouble shared is a trouble halved, time is a great healer, laughter is the best medicine and crime doesn't pay.
(As an aside, I have made a vow that I will never say the words; time heals everything, to anyone while they are in the throes of despair. Even though it's so true. It can drive someone further down the dark pits and is not very helpful at all. In fact it’s about as helpful as buying an obese person who has just started a diet, a size zero bikini to wear when they lose the weight. Grief, like weight, has many layers which have to be peeled off before you can see the positives let alone trying to visualise a different kind of reality. People facing challenges need validation and space).
I will give Monsieur Universe his dues though (bound to be a he surely although Lisleman makes a good point in his comment that it could indeed be a couple). I learnt that having a strong character and showing endurance is not about putting up, staying put, fighting for your rights and trying to win a losing battle. It’s about never letting anyone trample your personal boundaries not even for a second and knowing when to walk (or run away) and when to admit defeat and get help. Sometimes giving up and getting out shows the real courage and brings the real victory.
ADVERSITY with the big letters no longer terrifies me. I see it as some kind of divine intervention almost and if we are open to it then we (the victims and the bystanders) can take the ammunition we sorely need to grow and become better and more empathetic human beings.
None of us escapes the hard lessons that the Universe throws in our path. Some even get way more than their fair share. But next time big fella, I am ready for you, even though you won't exactly find me hanging around waiting! And you sure as hell won't find me attempting to do anything 900 times either. I've learnt my lesson!
What about you, what trial have you faced in your life that has taught you the most about yourself and the world around you? What got you through it?
Image: My favourite relaxation spot down by the lake. It’s bliss. I like peaceful places.