1. the power or ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity.
2. ability to recover readily from illness, depression, adversity, or the like; buoyancy.
It was in the crook of a tree that my neighbor had “gifted” me. A harsh old man who had a problem getting along with adults and who sometimes used us to gain information as to the workings of the neighborhood saw my attention to the tree and said it could be mine. It was the perfect climbing tree with branches in all the right places and about two-thirds of the way up there were three branches that had grown out of the trunk in such a way a reclining seat was formed. I would climb up there when the inner workings of my home were filled with tension. I would run to that tree when I wanted escape. I would flee there from fights and when I was told no. I would seclude myself there to read Anne of Green Gables, Animal Farm, and Sarah Plain and Tall. I would hoist books, and paper, and pens and write poetry that would make Elliot cringe. From that tree, I could hear the birds twitting about, and the squirrels chortling, the waves lapping up on the beach of my lake, and the trees brushing their leafy branches together flirting with each other as the breeze tickled their thick bark skin. It was there that I found the ability to calm my body and return it to peace. It was there that I found hope laid out in the foundations of nature. There I discovered myself. There I first realized that I was separate from those around me. There I realized that gurgling in the depths of my stomach was a longing for more and a thirst for hope. It was there I realized I could have control and manipulate my responses and it was there that I learned that I would have to rise up myself.
It was there that I learned that I was my own protective factor. I was resilient. I did not know this term until I turned 34. But hearing it put a name to the fire that had been kindled in that tree.
How did I do it? How did I get to where I am at today?
I saw the strength inside myself, leaned into it, and cultivated it.
Sometimes in a healthy way… but more oftentimes not. Resilience can turn into the bitter fires of stubbornness, or it can be used to ignite hope.
Adoptees. We are all born resilient in different ways. Mine was laid in my gene pool through Viking DNA. But in others, it can appear calmer, more passive. It can look like a slow steady determination or a sprint to the finish line. Look for ways you are resilient and lean into those strengths. Call them out in a positive light in yourself. Make sure you are not using them to hurt yourself or others.
Adoptive parents. Your child’s resilience may look like anger, a temper, passiveness, defiance, the need for control, the need to have quite and calm… Children often present their strengths in the unhealthiest ways. It’s frustrating and can be alarming, but it’s up to us to recognize those and cultivate and guide them into positive attributes.
Side note:Pinterest has many great ideas and printables on how to re-name those qualities positively.