“That which does not kill us…”

If I see one more inspirational quote that tells me adversity is good for me or that all I have to do is pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again, I believe I will scream so loudly they will hear me in Kathmandu!

“That which does not kill us

makes us stronger.”

The stand-up comedian responds, “Yes, but it almost KILLS US!

There are so many ways life almost kills us. The responsibility of caring for elderly parents, a disabled child, a spouse. The burden of being a single parent. Discovering that the person you thought you could trust with your most precious heart turning out to be unworthy. Losing a loved one to illness or death, slowly or suddenly. Being worn down looking for a job or being in a job you hate. Fighting for our own lives when sickness strikes and doesn’t politely go away like it’s supposed to. All of the above happening all at once! Trauma, emotional dark pits, cascading series of unfortunate events. They happen. Life happens.

How strong are you feeling right now? Not terribly? Me neither.

Some days we just have to rage. Cry, whine, moan, pout, eat ice cream right out of the carton or whipped cream straight from the can.

Lowering expectations sucks but that is exactly what has saved me from becoming a depressed bitch of the first order. While dealing with my chronic illness, it’s been a struggle to give myself permission to take a break from Facebook and Twitter, to let the writing go fallow for a few weeks, to not exercise or count calories every single day, let my husband take over the cooking, not answer every email or voice mail the minute it hits the in-box, to not read the book club selection (Columbine, for God’s sake! A great book, very well written, but jeez!). The hardest thing is to take a break from judging myself.

When I manage to remember to practice a little self-compassion I can feel my body melt a little, even relax. “Thank You!” it seems to gasp. How could I not realize how tensed up I was?

You might say I have no choice but to stop since my brain on prednisone is alternately scattered to the winds or depressed. But I DO have a choice, every day, every hour, every minute. I’d rather feel the peace of accepting that which I cannot change than the grinding, tectonic friction of anger and guilt. I’m not always successful. So what? I’m not perfect and I don’t necessarily think anger is always a bad emotion. Sometimes anger is righteous.

It’s just that anger held on for too long will inevitably backfire on us and who wants that? Besides, holding on to anger is exhausting and I do not have the energy to spare.

Your burden, I do not doubt, is more complicated, more entrenched, harder to detach from, than mine. But this I know. You are doing your best. It may not feel like it to you, but you are. I know you are.

In order to live long enough to get to the ‘makes us stronger’ part of the quote we must accept that we are good enough, we are worthy enough. Now! Today! If you can’t believe this for yourself then hear me. I will believe it for you. For all of us.


  • Wonderful post! Thank you so much for writing it! Love the graphic, too, lol!

    • Your encouragement was key, Amy Jo. Thank you for pushing me to speak from my heart and for the image idea ;-)

  • Kim

    Thank you for this..I never feel like I am ENOUGH!!!

    • Dear Kim, That feeling or thought that we are ‘never enough’ is the lie. It is dishonest and deceitful. It’s really good at weighing us down and keeping us second guessing ourselves, but it is a lie. We are not only good enough, we are “powerful beyond measure” as Marianne Williamson said in one quote that I can get behind! http://explorewhatsnext.com/afraid-of-me/

  • Melanie

    I stumbled on one of your articles today and have now read a few of them. I really like this one, it gives a different perspective on things.

    You wrote “I’d rather feel the peace of accepting that which I cannot change than the grinding, tectonic friction of anger and guilt.” I completely agree with that. I just don’t know how to get to the peace and accepting part. I am 29 years old and was a full time college student, mom of 4, wife, and patient advocate and I woke up with a bad headache one day. Nine months later I am now crippled by neurological pain and other neuro symptoms after having several spinal taps and 6 operations for a brain condition.

    Last night I started writing goodbye letters to my family as suicide seemed like the best thing for me and my family. I won’t hurt and they won’t be burdened by me. After reading two of your articles, I’m starting to feel a little hope. I will be looking at more of your articles, I really enjoy what you have written and hope to find one that tells me how to move through the grief process and how to get stronger.

    • Dear Melanie,

      I am grateful that anything I wrote gives you hope. Hope is very precious and needs care. I want you to continue to nurture it, not just by reading my articles but by talking with someone, and by someone I mean a good therapist. If you are thinking about suicide you are not thinking clearly. The trauma and anguish of your medical condition has distorted your thinking and while that is understandable, it is dangerous unless treated. It may take some time to find a good therapist for you so in the meantime I want you to either call me (716-308-6683) or the suicide prevention lifeline 1-800-273-TALK. I am honored by the compliment you pay my writing but sweetie, you deserve “to move through the grief process and [learn] how to get stronger” with a personal one-on-one guide.


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