Never Ever, No, Not Ever

Talking with a brother of mine the other day, he told me “I really want the same resiliency as you.” That got me to thinking. First off, if he thinks I’m resilient, he needs to come listen to me talking to my counselor. HA! Second, if he thinks I’m resilient, then he must see something in me. Third, what in the world does resilience even really mean? Well...a quick Google search answered that question.
 
 Resilience is defined as "the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness." 
 
SIDE NOTE: This word has, to some in the military world, become a borderline curse word. For some, it goes in one ear and out the other. For others, it has great meaning and you find great joy in being resilient and in helping others be resilient. Wherever you fall, being able to recover from difficult circumstances is something that we all need. 
 
Immediately, I realized that if I am so-called “resilient”...then I know the reason(s). 
 
Reasons one, two, three, and so on and so on: The people around me. 
 
Let me make this perfectly clear from the beginning. You will NEVER EVER, NO, NOT EVER be "resilient" by yourself. I don’t have to draw the picture for you of the situation that I have found myself in before, several times. I, like many of us, have found ourselves at one point or another, maybe even now, as the giant elephant sitting on the branch of a lifeless tree overlooking the vast, hot, life draining desert around us and wondering “how in the name of everything good and pure did I end up here?!” There is no good reason why I should be in this place mentally that I am. In the moment, you probably can't figure it out, but if you take a little time, you can always look back and see how you’re elephant self managed to climb up a tree and perch up on that lifeless branch that is not even strong enough to hold your weight, and in which you have zero business being in to begin with, much less, being in the sweltering desert that the dead tree occupies.
 
At some point in time, difficulties hit, maybe one, maybe two, maybe big, maybe small. Maybe it was one huge hit like a sledgehammer that brought you to a crying heep on the floor or maybe it was a small difficulty here and a small difficulty over there, and before you realize it, everywhere you look is another small, annoying, draining, burdensome difficulty. Wherever you are, you made a subconscious decision to allow yourself to either put up walls around your heep of a self or to add a brick with every single difficulty that hit. You felt safe in your little one bedroom condo or you garnered safety as you built your mansion. So you find yourself there, weeks, months, and even years later, surrounded by those moving to and fro, buzzing around you, yet alone in what now is no longer feeling so safe. In fact, your “safe place” has turned dry and desolate. And when the walls fall down, there is no green yard, there is no springtime laughter, there is no backyard fire pit, there is only you, perched in death, in the desert, while everything you built sinks in the cold wet quicksand. Simply put, this all happened because you found yourself fighting for safety, while sacrificing everything needed for you to not only survive, but to bounce back and thrive. If you stay in this waterless wasteland, you will slowly wither away like the rotting, once lush tree you occupy.
 
Whether you are cruising along on your road through the big city or you are hallucinating tropical oasis’ because of the heat exhaustion caused by the glaring desert sun, you can have the tools it takes to truly have mental toughness and the ability to recover quickly. Those tools are available, but the underlying foundation that they are built on is the things we actually tried to keep out of our safe spot by our walls. How backwards is it to think that our walls kept out what we should have been building on in the first place?! Yes, that foundation is you and me and the men and women that God Himself has put around you. Allow me to repeat myself, You will NEVER EVER, NO, NOT EVER be "resilient" by yourself. 
 
When I began to realize this reality, I learned that I was attributing past hurts from circumstances and toxic people onto those around me who were there to shoulder the weight. My wife even repeatedly beat it into my head that she was not my enemy. Experience is a great teacher, but sometimes experience takes practice. We have to practice this little word that, for some, brings up great anxiety, and that word is called vulnerability. That word is defined as the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally. We allow the hard that we have already experienced to make us not even take the chance. Yet, there are quality, great people that are around us that legitimately care about you. It’s tough to open yourself up to being seen. But the men and women that I’ve met that are seemingly mentally tough, are also the ones that are most vulnerable. They have learned by experience that opening up about where we are with the right, trusted people, whether that is a friend, family member, spouse, counselor, or some mix of all of the above. Carve this on my headstone when I die: He 100% believed that EVERYONE needs SOMEONE to talk to about ANYTHING. There is not much greater feeling than that feeling of truly being heard, and when you’re heard, even if you feel as if you are butt naked in front of the person listening, that person responds with nothing more than their amazing and intimate presence. And no, by intimacy, I do not mean sex. While sex is great, true intimacy is being able to be 100% safe with someone no matter what. Friendships, relationships, marriages, families, etc all NEED to experience this level of intimacy. So, find that safe place to talk it out, to let it out, to cry it out, to get it ALL out. Guess what, you deserve it. You deserve those people in your life that love you even if they differ from you, that hold you accountable, that press you forward, that sharpen you, those people that do not tell you what you want to hear. You deserve this intimacy. It is possible, it may be awkward, it may seem risky, but it is worth it. So yes, I'm only "resilient" because of the people around me who hold my big elephant weight up. They are my lush, green life giving, oxygen producing, thriving, weight supporting tree that holds me up. Yet this tree is not in the hot dry desert, this tree is planted firmly in the most amazing full of life fields you’ve ever seen. While it may be nighttime and dark and maybe a little stormy in this grassland, the vast ecosystem and other herd members make it what we are all looking for...safe. And on these sometimes rocky grassy mountain surrounded plains, you aren’t the big elephant, you may feel like that newborn calf that still has wobbly legs (vulnerability makes you feel that way) but yet, your protection and safety allows you to grow into the massive, never alone, Bison that learns to charge the oncoming storm. 
 
In conclusion, the man who told me he wanted to be resilient like me is one of the men who make me resilient. Funny how that works isn't it?

-Trey
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