"Resilience means the ability to return to a prior form. But when communities experience trauma, such as a war or natural disaster, rarely do they return precisely to their normal way of life. More often, people adapt, debate, innovate and try new approaches as they reconstruct their lives. They change the game."
Prior to my visit to the museum, I’d spent the previous few days enjoying the infamous New Orleans Mardi Gras festivities. During the day, I attended the parades, danced in the streets and was a little too excited to catch and adorn my neck with cheap, plastic beads thrown from passing floats. In the evenings, I sipped cocktails and danced with my cousin and new friends. Being that I’m about halfway into my “dirty thirties”, my 10 p.m. bedtime applies both at home and on vacation. This trip was no exception. I left the partying ‘till the crack of dawn to the twenty-year-olds and hit the bed before midnight.
As I crawled into bed, the music from the floats faded and I was left to deal with my own thoughts. Concealed behind the walls of my hotel and buried underneath the covers, I was no longer the happy and carefree woman plastered across my social media timelines. I was depressed and mourning the baby I lost three years ago.
In February of 2013, I found out I was pregnant. I was 31 and felt secure in my job and life in general. Unfortunately, my boyfriend at the time did not feel the same way. What I'd always envisioned as something I would celebrate was in actuality a nightmare, as the man I’d once trusted tried to convince me to terminate a life I'd already grown to love. I refused and instead terminated our relationship.
Determined to be the very best single mother I possibly could, I moved forward, focusing on the health of my baby. At about nine weeks pregnant, I went to the doctor only to find out my baby's heart had stopped beating. My doctor scheduled an emergency surgery for the next morning. Alone, I took the subway to the hospital, cried with the nurses, and woke up to my best friend standing over my bed in the recovery room. The whole experience left me feeling angry, bitter, guilty, hopeless and confused.
A month after the miscarriage, I went to London and Paris. Trips to Brazil, Panama, the Dominican Republic, Miami and Cameroon followed. As a result of sharing the good times with social media friends and followers, I often heard, “I want your life. I wish I could go all the places you’ve gone. You’re so lucky you can do this. Once you have kids it won’t be as easy. Enjoy your life now.”
Many of these statements came from a place of comparing what seemed to be so wonderful about my life, to what they considered to be challenging about theirs. Those same people might be surprised to know that I was in fact envious of parents who held children on their shoulders in helping them to catch beads and other things thrown from floats. Or that I would have preferred to build sand castles with my baby on the beaches of Brazil, Panama, Miami or the Dominican Republic.
Most times, my Facebook and Instagram have showed the “pretty” side of my resilience- travel, encouraging Bible verses, outings with family and friends etc. But what about the “uglier” moments? There are no selfies of bloodshot eyes or snotty, runny noses from crying. There are no status updates about feeling so angry that I could punch a hole in the wall. I’m beginning to understand that the ugly moments we typically try to conceal are just as beautiful and important as the pretty ones. All are a part of the process. And no matter what it is that you’ve gone through or are going through, you are alive and well enough to read this. You are therefore, by definition, resilient.