There is a lot of pain in this world. There is a lot of cruelty and tragedy that is truly unavoidable by any of us, but the power of pain can be defeated by one thing: resilience.
Resilience is a frequently misunderstood word. People who choose to be resilient can be mistaken for being “numb.” People might look at them and think that they can only be so resilient because they don’t feel the intensity of the pain that comes with life. Resilient people don’t cry, they are unattached, they feel nothing.
Oh, but they do feel something. They feel everything.
They feel the pain of loss so deeply it becomes a part of them. The disappointment of betrayal is so heavy they have to carry it on their backs, and the reality of some people’s intentions knock them off of their feet because they hardly ever see it coming. So with heavy hearts and wounded bodies, they are kicked to the ground, along with everybody else. This is where we find the difference between those who choose to be resilient and those who choose not to be. See, we are all knocked down by the struggles of life; they would hardly be struggles if we weren’t, but only some of us fight to get back up.
It is important to recognize that resilient people are not a race. Resilience is not a trait; you are not born with it, it is not an advantage only some of us are lucky enough to possess. We are all capable of resilience. Resilience is a choice, and it is a choice that we are presented with not once, not twice, but over and over and over again for as long as we live.
Being betrayed by someone you love, or worse, someone who led you to believe they loved you, too, hurts so much that you might never want to put yourself in a position to be hurt like that again. You’ll probably spend days, weeks, or months trying to piece together the puzzle in your mind that you thought you had already put together because nothing makes sense anymore. You’ll feel angry, disappointed, maybe even vengeful. You’ll feel like you can’t trust anyone. You can confine yourself to a life of loneliness, bitterness, running away from love, or you can choose to take a chance again one day, and maybe, just maybe, find the love you deserve. You can choose resilience.
Losing a loved one leaves you feeling so many emotions all at once: confused, angry, sad, empty, and above all, helpless, because there is literally nothing you or anyone can do to make it better. Most of the time, we have control of our lives, but not when it comes to this. Nobody can bring back the person you have lost. It is out of your control. A tragedy like this could leave you in a dark place for a while, but at the end of the day, you are left with two options: accept it or not. Accepting it doesn’t mean forgetting; those we love remain in our hearts forever, whether or not they remain in our lives. It might take time, as grieving is necessary. However, at some point, you can choose to be weighed down by the anger you hold inside of you because you never got to say goodbye, you can choose to live in fear of losing someone again, or you can choose to cherish every moment you still have with the people in your life, and every moment you still have in your own life. You can choose resilience.
Pain will always demand to be felt, but it does not have to define you; you don’t have to give it that power. You can choose to be defined by the one thing that knocked you down, or you can choose to be defined by how many times you got back up and kept going.
previously published on ThoughtCatalog