noun. a difficult or unpleasant situation
Adversity comes and goes with the ebb and flow of life, striking its opponent without warning. It rears its ugly head in the silence of the night, when the moon is bright and the world resting. No one is immune to the wrath of adversity and we’re rarely prepared with hearts shielded for battle. We never have the choice about whether we want to step into the ring or not. The doors are flung open and the whistle blows as we stumble our way into the blaring lights dazed and confused, trying to put up our fists to fight between the stings of each unexpected blow. We don’t consciously choose adversity. It would be insane to seek suffering. But suffering is a part of human experience, the harsh polarity of the overwhelming joys we are blessed to enjoy. It’s the duality of living - the dark blanketing the light, suffocating the pleasantries we naively believe will consume our days.
When I was told my daughter was blind, developmentally delayed, reliant on medications to survive and may never walk or talk, I couldn’t change the devastating reality that her brain didn’t develop properly. I couldn’t stop the feeling that I was being kicked in the guts over and over again as they explained the complexity of her diagnoses and risk to her potential development. I couldn’t shake the feeling that my heart had shattered into a million pieces. I couldn’t piece back together the dreams and expectations I envisioned for my family as we cautiously navigated a very different reality to what we believed we’d endure.
But I could choose how I responded to the experience.
Those first few weeks, months and years as a special needs parent carry a tightly closed fist full of harsh blows of a new reality bathed in adversity. You get told things that nightmares are made of. You experience challenges beyond comprehension. You cry an ocean of tears. You live each day in a haze of survival, pushing through each moment hoping that a better one is waiting around the corner. But through all of this, you unknowingly build a resilience that was waiting in the pit of your belly to shine through you. As you traverse along a very uncertain road, you quickly release layers of unnecessary baggage, unintentionally aware that there’s only enough room for necessities on this new path. You grow wings of strength and learn to trust a dormant voice inside your Soul that convinces you in the depths of a million sleepless nights that you can actually do it.
And you do.
Mackenzie demanded full presence from me, my undivided attention. She called for me to experience and live each moment because the next one was so uncertain. She encouraged me to find unapologetic joy in the moment, rather than consume my heart in unsurmountable sorrows of the overarching storm clouds that buried me at times. Her demands for presence were a divine offering to choose to let the light into the dark, especially when the darkness seemed impenetrable.
This presence her needs willed of me encouraged me to build a relationship with my body, and my Self. I learnt to trust my Self by listening to the intuitive offerings of my inner wisdom. What I first labeled ‘mother’s intuition’ became a wise old friend living inside me that I could I turn too when no one else had the answers. I talked to this inner voice in my dreams and fears and waited patiently for her response. She sent information and messages through my body, which became a messenger for the wisdom of my Soul’s voice. When washed away in the considered limitations of our lived experience I lost sight of the potential for growth. When I returned to the present I was able to immerse myself in the Now, choose to find something to appreciate in the grace of the moment, and open my eyes to the potential for what could be. It opened my eyes to the possibilities.
There are many things that I can’t change about my daughter, her needs and our situation. And there are many things that I had to surrender too, knowing that I couldn’t do anything different to create a different reality for her, or us. There are obvious limitations to her lived experience being blind, developmentally delayed and reliant on medications to survive. I can’t change the influx of adversity that knocks on our door and embraces me like an old friend at times. This is our path, our destiny.
But what I’ve been blessed to learn along this challenging journey is that I can choose how much of my energy I exchange in the welcoming of adversity. I am empowered to respond to adversity with deep presence, knowing that there is nowhere I need to be but in the experience, no matter how joyful or heart breaking it feels. I know that those feelings have a time limit - impermanence ensures they’ll be replaced with new feelings in new moments. I choose to accept the experience with belief that there is divine purpose for the road we walk. I can choose to find something to feel grateful for, knowing that gratitude allows resistance to melt away so the experience can move through me without hesitation. It’s a choice to find the light in the dark, even when it seems impossible I can always choose to see it. And I can choose to trust. To trust the offerings, the challenges and the opportunities to learn and grow in the face of adversity, and not drown in the limitations.
Adversity has given me a platform to reassess, to embrace change and seek possibility, and lead me on a path to personal growth. You can choose not to let a bad experience be the proudest or best moment of your life. I choose to see adversity as a catalyst for growth rather than an opportunity to fall victim to the emotional trauma. Adversity has allowed me to see that possibility is limitless if you’re open to it, if you’re listening to the wisdom of your heart, responding with presence and trusting the process.