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.


  1. Lilly,
    you are such an amazing person. you had a raw deal in life yet it did not make you bitter .
    You are so positive .
    And what a perspective you give to the incidents.Everything in place ,no ambiguity in thinking.
    You are awarded "the owner of best philosophy on life award"

  2. Great post!

    What trial have I faced? Marriage of course - like most people. And yes it did take me 30 odd years to figure out I was peeing into the wind and I needed to turn around and run like hell.

    What did it teach me? In theory FF&L (I'll leave you to work that out), but we all still carry ourselves with us on our journey through life and I suspect we don't really change that much even though we think we have and perhaps are aware that we do know better.


  3. You've written some serious advice here. Would it be easier to understand as a fairy tale? I doubt it.
    Interesting how one word can become a theme for your life. My word would be BALANCE. It goes back to my mom, my engineering background, my observations of ups and downs, and even learning about some philosophies. I think there is even a balance between life and death.

    I do disagree with you on one thing - it would be MS. Universe. There's no way a guy could run this. His ego would get in the way.
    One second thought maybe it's actual a couple and that's why it's direction and progress changes so much.

  4. What a brave and resilient soul you are Lilly. Mesmerizing post.

    This last year has probably brought me the most challenge in life, much greater challenge than the battle with cancer four years ago.

    Maybe someday it will cease to be unbloggable...

  5. great post, Lilly, we all know where you're coming from in one way or another. For example, it took me about 3 years to finally quit a 13 year job and realize I wasn't getting along with my project manager. I just kept plugging away. And I'm guilty of telling people 'time heals all'. Well said.

  6. your post was worth mentioning - so I did.

  7. Oh Lilly ... you already know I have been faced with a few life challenges. I would like to think I faced them squarely (though I know it's not completely true) .. but I do realize every battle has made me a stronger, better person.

    And I so appreciate YOU!

  8. Bravo Lilly!!!!

    I am sooo happy the Big A will no longer be bothering you this lifetime. It took me 15 years to learn to "know when to fold 'em" as opposed to "know when to hold 'em".

    And great advise about telling people time heals everything, it is best just to be there for the bikini analogy.

    All in all another fanastic post.

    Big big hugs.
    Peggy xxxxoooo

  9. @ Kirti - I think we all get our share of raw deals and thats why I think when we are ready we need to share our experiences. I think there is also a funny side to most things that happen - it just takes a while to see that side though!

    @ AF1blog - you touched on something important here - if we dont learn the lessons we keep hitting our heads against a brick wall. You have to learn the lesson, change and move on. My head cant take another beating lol - I get it, I get it..30 years sheesh! That is a long time!

    @ Lisleman - you are so right. I love your thoughts on the gender of the Universe. And balance thats what I aim for. So true!

    @ PHST - thanks for your comment and I have emailed you. Some experiences are too raw to blog about let alone talk about. Big hugs to you.

    @ Christine - its interesting the work analogy. I ahve been guilty fo the same things. Sometimes we confuse loyalty and hanging in there with doing the right thing. Its only when we leave a bad situation we realise that we should ahve done it a long time before. Fear can paralyse us I think. Glad you are happy and at peace now though.

    @ Lisleman - thanks,

    @ Helen - yep, I want to be like you when I finally grow up. You are the eptimom of style and grace and bravery to me.

    @ Peggy - well you are the person that inspired me to not let a certain institution walk all over me either. You have dealt with your trials and come through the other side with a big smile on your face and a lot of heart. Thank you!

  10. Sometimes you just read things at the right time.
    I'm a bit of a hanger-in-there, trying to decide if I can let go or not. I'm reading lots from different people over the last few days, that really tell me that I should let go.
    It still isn't easy though. I feel like I need to be pushed.

  11. Very, very well said Lilly. I too, am was one of those people who always thought things would work out and that love conquered all-- Ha! Been there, done that, not buying into it again! I'm glad it's behind me.

    These days, Adversity has come in the form of health challenges for loved ones and myself. this time around, I think with my head not with my heart (and eat a lot of chocolate).

    Wishing you a wonderful weekend.

  12. absolutely great advice... brava!

  13. Sometimes endurance becomes an albatross round the neck. The screamers and shouters often get out of trouble more easily. Thanks for sharing your story and the insights that pain and time gave you.

  14. My first husband got my twenties and I decided he wasn't going to get my thirties even though I knew it would hurt my kids. I couldn't make him better for me, we weren't equally yoked and I left.
    The most difficult thing was leaving an incredibly meaningful and impactful (for the community it represented) job that was slowly killing my spirit. I worried that it wouldn't go on without my energy (it is petering out slowly) but I had to leave. Once again, it was me or it and I chose me. I'm broker than I've been in years but somehow managing (although the hub just got a lay-off notice).
    The Anita Baker song about fairy tales talks about "no living life in paradise or fairy tales." Glad you triumphed. Let go, let God, try something new, get off the cross, Sister, we need the wood. Congratulations.

  15. Oh my! Thank you for this post. I was about to type, "You can't even know." But I bet you do! My blogging friend Candalaria sent me here - and it was just the right thing to do! You have said, clearly and sweetly, the words that I can't quite get out - and I thank you!

  16. Hi Lilly!
    Well there is endurance and perseverance and then there is delusion. Whilst I have huge respect for those that keep on trying, it reminds me of that Albert Einstein quote:
    "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results"

    It is a fine balance. Sometimes I think getting what we desire/need requires a little creativity and a heavy amount of crazy.

    Happy Sunday. :-)

  17. @ Sucharita - yes, the issue is that if you do not heed the warning signs and brush it off, you get stuck with the albatross around your neck until it chokes you.

    @ Can-can - you I think have healthy self esteem. I love that and it is something we should all be working on. Love yourself first and then everything does fall into place. And I am not talking about self love in the narcissistic way just that we need to respect ourselves and our boundararies first otherwise no-one else is going to do it for us. I LOVE that line about being on the cross. Martyrdom - is one thing but FEAR and SHAME is what keep most people in harms way for so long I think.

    @ Librarian Lee - glad to hear it and I hope it helps in some way. Feel free to email me anytime.

    @ Kimmy - Delusion, so true. sometimes such bad things happen that the only way we can cope is by pushing it to faraway places. The human spirit can put up with losts of things. I think the issue is that we must listen to our gut instinct about everything rather than rationalise it too much. The warning signs are always there, easier to see in hiindsight of course. We must also make sure that actions and words are the same. Nice to have you visit.

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  19. For me the hardest trial I have had to go through would be the death of my mother. I was pregnant when she was diagnosed with Alzhiemers. I was devastated but was on auto pilot for a long time. I think we go through the motions of living sometimes until something happens which jolts us out of our comfort zones. We are never the same afterwards and it makes us stronger and it makes us more resilient that is for sure. For me, if I didn't have faith in my religious beliefs and the love of a close family then I am not sure how I would have got through this. Trials put our lives into perspective. Material things mean nothing. It is just stuff. People on the other hand mean everything. They alone can break our hearts. Yet so many people never learn the lessons and continue chasing rainbows and pots of gold.

  20. Great post, my dear. And I so agree---knowing when to walk away takes as much courage and enduarnce---maybe more---and to me that is NOT a defeat. That is absolutely a Victory. Keeping oneself "in tact" is so important, and knowing when to get off the train before it crashes---

    I cannot believe that woman took the Driving Test so many many MANY Times....Good God! I know some would say that is tenacity---not me. I think it's kind of coo coo...! But good for her she finally made it--I hope she is not too old to drive!

    There have been many adversity's to overcome in my life---Some harder than others. But I do believe I learned something from each one. I wish I hadn't had to go through them, all the same.

  21. It is true sometimes we hit our heads against brick walls trying to make something right. Life is a lot crueller than we can even contemplate sometimes. However, it just makes the good times sweeter. Most of my trials have been career related but who knos what is around the corner. Good post.

  22. Sometimes we don't always learn from the first big mistake we make. My first marriage was a big mistake, but then I went on to a second one having learned nothing. I swore I wouldn't marry for a third time...but I did. But it worked out fine because my eyes were wide open third time around.

    Wonderful post Lilly.

  23. Oh Lilly you have endurance plus.

    For me the hardest trial I've had to go through would be the loss of my baby daughter @26wks, after we waited 12 yrs for her.ther. I was pregnant when she was

    I agree with other commenters that my Christian faith and the support & love of my hsband & close family & friends got us through this.

    "But what happens if you are facing ADVERSITY with a big bloody A the size of which you’ve never seen before..."

    Now we face another huge challenge as my husband has just been diagnosed with cancer.

    You wake up everyday and breath.
    You believe in yourself that you can get through this.
    You hug each other.
    You find people to support you and you ask for help when you need it.
    You remember that its ok to cry.

    Ps I found this somewhere but author is unknown.

  24. @ Sarah - oh you have had a difficult time and I am sorry for that. Thanks for your comment, it is great. Take Care.

    @ Naomi - Yes, I know you understand about walking away too. Thanks for your comment.

    @ Banoffi - We jsut have to deal with these things as best we can and really enjoy the great moments life throws our way or that we actively go out and pursue. Thanks for your comment.

  25. @ Trish - Oh my goodness I did not know. Big hugs. I will email you.

    @ Ayak - I would love to hear your whole story sometime. As long as we learn the lessons. Sometimes we need our heads banged together hard until we get it, ha ha. So glad it all worked out for your! Bravo!

  26. Thank you for this. Came at the right time for me.

  27. Great post Lilly! You are such a wise person and I always learn something here.
    I think my biggest trial is happening at this moment. It´s concerning my mothers health and how to handle it. It´s really going to be a challenge and I hope I have the ENDURANCE to go through it.
    Thanks for the words of encouragement!

  28. @ Betty - yes many of us are at that age where our parents are aging and need our help. Its a time for tough decisions sometimes and I hope that your mother's health issues can be overcome easily. Big hugs to you.

  29. Great post... sometimes it takes more courage to walk away and start anew than to try and endure through something.

  30. @ Lady Fi, thanks for your comment. Love the word anew!

  31. This is a great post! Good thing I read it this morning. A nice way to start the day.


Thanks for your comments.