Resilience and why women are so great at it
My resilience comes from my Mother; which came from her mother before her.
At some point in our lives we have all been faced with tricky situations that require a hard decision or choice to be made. You have to act fast otherwise you risk the chance that everything could fall apart. This is where we have to use our whole being or as much of it as we can to get through it and our resilience is a key component to the makeup of our being.
Its one of the construction layers of our existence.
The women in my life all embody this. From my mother to hers and hers before her and so on and so on. From my aunts to my best friends. To my sisters and my teachers.
Most of my most influential people in my life have never been a man, always women. From my english teachers to my theatre teachers; they've all been massively empowering and nurturing in my growing up.
And as a gay boy from a relatively small town, I needed this.
So, what makes an empowering and resilient woman to me?
They have to be able to stand up for what they believe in.
Even in the toughest of times, they fight for what is right in their hearts. They show up and consistently show up for what they believe in because when faced with adversity, they show it who's boss. They're not afraid to spread their message but always with love and from the heart.
They walk with love and light in their step.
With so much fire inside of them, they never burn anybody else in the process. They go forth in their decisions with love and light and an abundance of positivity.
They go above and beyond for everybody else before seeing to themselves.
They put others before themselves because they're able to see the bigger picture. They're caring and nurturing of others as people before them have been of them. They see life like a game of dominoes; if one falls down, we all fall down. They work tirelessly to the point of exhaustion so that others are taken care of and can get a good night's sleep.
They have passion.
Everything they do comes from a place of passion. They give and keep on giving because they enjoy it. They're passionate about their causes and want to share it with the world.
They're not afraid of vulnerability.
Vulnerability isn't a weakness to them, in fact, it is a strength. They will let you see them cry and they will let you be around in times of darkness because they know you'll be around in times of light; just like they are for you. They realise the importance of accepting one's emotions and learning from it.
And above all, they are human and they are themselves.
They make mistakes, they are human. And while, they may not always feel their best, they always try to be their best. They are them self and they accept themselves for all of their being; the good and the bad.
In light of this, I want to take you to the women in my life. They embody attributes of all of the above. My resilience comes from my Mother; which came from her mother before her.
I'm trying to imagine my life without my mother and that's one heck of a scary thought. After losing one parent to suicide in 2012, I don't think I'd be able to cope with losing another one. When my Dad died, my mum was faced with unprecedented decisions. She could have crumbled but she didn't. She had her family to look after and had to be strong. She showed up everyday despite the pain because, well, she had to. That's the type of woman she is. Despite everything, she gets on with things. There were times when I held her hand and without saying anything I told her it's ok to crumble, we're all here to pick you up. You don't have to be the strong one all of the time.
At this time, our family consisted of an 18 year old on the brink of despair, two 15 year old twin boys (me) silently getting on with things and an 18 month old baby needing a stable unit. When everything was anything but stable we managed to stay afloat. We had an incredible support network around us. An aunty who stepped in and did everything she could to ease the pressure whether that be ringing up companies and dealing with letters. Another aunty who travelled away from her home to come help and support her sister. Grandparents who sheltered and protected and did everything in their power to make sure everybody was alright.
Fast forward 8 years and we have pulled through. We bloody well did it. Through the pain, the grief and a lot of tears, we survived. Now, I'm not saying it gets easier because well, it doesn't. Day to day life may be masked but when you're hit with a burst of pain randomly, you're thrown back into the moment when you first found out he was dead. But you do get better at managing these moments. Somehow, you learn to turn the pain into smiles...take a song on the radio for example; that used to be his karaoke song and while initially it hurts like hell, little by little it hurts a little less.
When I think of my mother, I think of a strong and independent woman who's been through more than one person should be able to handle but she came out surviving. She lost the love of her life and had a family to bring up all at the same time. She knows what it's like to go through hardship and still come out smiling.
She, like my Nan is someone I aspire to be like.
My Nan always said she gained her confidence when she had kids of her own and got older. She recalls being shy as a kid and a lot of her memories are of minding her siblings children as she was the youngest of six, so when they all wanted to enjoy a night out, she was the one to look after the children. She's always had a passion for looking after people and I think that's why she's so good at it and why she has spent a lot of her life as a carer. She found her voice as she got older and what I see now and what I've seen for all of my existence is a woman who is forward thinking, open to change and has an infectious laugh. She will go anywhere on her own and likes her own space...a bit like me. She's also the biggest joker I know.
My whole life, I have been surrounded by resilient and empowering women and while the men in my life are wonderful, I've learnt a lot of my lessons from my ladies.
And for that, I thank you. And I thank all women out there in the world for consistently showing up in a world where people want to shut the door in your face before you've even got a foot in.
From someone whos not afraid to admit it...we need you and we always will!