What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger! That’s what my Mom always said, mostly when current life events sucked, and their seemed to be no immediate exit strategy. Like saying it was the same as winging a little ray of sunshine over the situation, right? This simple technique may have sufficed when I was five and I was being strapped in a pair of white tights, buckle shoes, gloves and a hair bun; however, as I grew older, it required a little more reflection.
They say you really can’t appreciate your parents until you become one, and I genuinely believe that now! I admit I bought into my mother’s ranting of “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger………” it just sort of rang out with no ending, like that’s it, no further explanation is required, and I guess I thought ok, that’s it. Somewhere in my “tween” years, I remember thinking, “well if this is it, I don’t like it!” And you know what? I got mad, and I got determined, and I learned to move to a place where the same things couldn’t hurt me in the same way again. Well isn’t that special? Perhaps what doesn’t kill us, does in fact, make us stronger!
To point to an early example of how this theory works, my freshman cheerleader tryouts. I had made the squad every year since, well since every year. Captain one year. It never really occurred to me that I wouldn’t make it the crowning glory of years of junior high school, but I didn’t make the freshman squad. I didn’t make the second squad to cheer for the girls’ team! What? You must be kidding me! I made it home from tryouts, climbed into my Dad’s lap, and whaled like a two year old. My mother……….you guessed it, just wanted me to know I would survive this bump in the road, and what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. I’m pretty sure I was just about the age to think, “screw you, it doesn’t’ get any worse than this!” The next day I was called to the principals office late in the day and told some lame excuse about they had determined that my scoring had been misplaced, it was a horrible mistake, but they had determined they could place me as captain of the girls’ squad as consolation. Unfortunately, they couldn’t add an extra person to the freshman squad. It wasn’t until many years later that I found out that my Mom went to the school the next day raising holy hell, only to be told the school felt my placement on the squad may have posed a financial burden on our family, what with my Dad’s illness and my Mom’s need to work all the time. Oh no you didn’t tell my Mom she wasn’t providing for her children good enough! Next day I was on a squad of some kind, that’s all I know. I guess what doesn’t kill us does make us stronger, because my Mom never let me know a thing at the time, but I think she made her point at one junior high school. The next year, I was more determined than ever to make the high school squad, and I did!
All of that stuff seems a million years ago now, but the lessons learned were engrained in me. Life has been very good to me at times, and not so good at others. I honestly feel like life has tried to kill me a couple of times, and it’s certainly kicked my butt a time or two! But every single time I come out on top, it’s like Conan the Barbarian beating his chest screaming, “I am a beast, I can take it!” All right, I’m exaggerating, but it feels pretty good to get through the tough times, and know you can. If I’m honest, I know that my ability to endure can be attributed to those early lessons. After all, it probably never is as bad as we think it is. When I’m struggling with the process, I pause and look around, because there is always someone with a lot more burden to carry than me! People like my friend, Ellen, best friend ever, mother of five, and in treatment for stage III breast cancer. Ellen is in the fight of her life, and you truly couldn’t meet anyone with a better outlook on life, so what could I have to complain about? If what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, when Ellen gets through this cancer thing, she’ll probably be a giant