Post-traumatic growth…

I read an article months and months ago about this phenomenon. I remember it really struck a chord deep down because I of course had to quantify it and choose my biggest regret which was #3 “I wish I had let myself be happier”. I posted a blog about it at some point but never talked about the other part of that story.

That part never left me either and seemed somehow more important or maybe just as important but I wasn’t sure how it related to my life. I think it resonated because I want to take something terrible like addiction and turn into something positive but I just can’t seem to manage that. I want to walk away re-charged with a new sense of purpose. Instead, I am stuck on this ugly loop that just spins round and round and repeats it self…all the central characters playing the same key roles and nothing changes.

I think Ron has done that.  He has walked away from this torturous experience and turned it into a life’s mission to educate  and change the view people have of addiction. I think Annette also has walked away from this experience with a renewed sense of purpose and a desire to be the change in people’s lives. Syd has obviously been transformed by his experiences, reaching out and taking an active role in the Alanon Community. Those are just three people who immediately came to mind, I am sure there are many others.

My question is: Why? Why were they able to live their lives with a new sense of purpose and experience growth when so many of us continually falter. I don’t want to minimize their accomplishments in any way because I only see a small glimpse into their lives…the part they share. Does it have to do with their addicts success? Ron’s son appears to be living happily ever after or is it ones ability to detach which seems to be Syd’s greatest strength or is it Annette’s resilience and obvious joy in giving back to others?

I WANT THAT! I know I sound like a big fat baby but I really do want that and if it was as easy as wanting I would be transformed too…and so would my addict.  I don’t want to walk away diminished from this experience, I want to be super-charged. What is it that makes me unable to achieve what others are able to incorporate into their lives?

Here is a snippet of the original article. I think it includes the link just click on the pink “10 Extra Years”. The video is fascinating to me. It all seems so simple but not really simple at all.

10 Extra Years of Life

Jane McGonigal began her 2012 talk “The Game That Can Give You 10 Extra Years of Life” by listing the five regrets of the dying: “Number one: I wish I hadn’t worked so hard. Number two: I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends. Number three: I wish I had let myself be happier. Number four: I wish I’d had the courage to express my true self. And number five: I wish I’d lived a life true to my dreams, instead of what others expected of me.”

Then she makes a fascinating leap to a little-known phenomenon called post-traumatic growth. We’ve all heard of post-traumatic stress. But sometimes, when people are faced with a deeply traumatic experience — illness, accident, or another brush with death — they walk away not diminished, but super-charged by the experience. Suddenly, they can live a life without fear, focused on what matters most to them. And Jane’s talk teaches the rest of us how we can experience this super-growth, without the trauma.

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About madyson007

I am a mom of 4 who thought she was home free with her oldest son when he went off to college. My serious blunder? Genetics and being naive or maybe just plain stupid.
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7 Responses to Post-traumatic growth…

  1. Barbara says:

    Thanks for sharing the 5 regrets, number three is the one that stands out to me, big time. I am working on it. The rest of your post is very thought provoking too. I sat here and thought about Ron, Annette and Syd (and Lou and Dawn came to mind too). I don’t think there is an answer to the question “why” because there are too many variables and all of us are so different – our temperaments, our childhoods, our personalities. But I do believe that with a lot of work, we can learn to detach, to stop worrying, to allow ourselves to experience joy. The thing is….that work can take YEARS and the work itself is painful and draining and its so easy to say “is it worth it to work so damn hard for this mysterious sense of serenity?” For me the answer is: Sometimes, but sometimes I just don’t care and allow myself to be depressed and worry. I am not “there” yet. I may never be.

    Of course it also has a heck of a lot to do with where our loved one is. Its easy to see how why Ron can experience happiness right now (and I am soooo happy for him). But what about the parent who doesn’t even know where their kid is or if he/she is alive or dead? For me personally, my son is doing better than he ever has, but there have been several slip ups and I know all this could come crashing down at any second.

    We also have to consider what works for us, what comes naturally for us? Ron is a natural born leader, Annette is naturally nurtures people, not all of us are like that so not all of us are going to
    have the same way of coping. For me, I am also a natural nurturer and very empathetic so one thing I had to force myself to do was to slowly blog less and become less involved with things that had to do with addiction (which made me feel guilty and like a shitty person at first). But it helped me get stronger on my own and now I am reading blogs and and even writing this comment that is probably longer than your blog post. (SORRY!). I miss this so much, but for me, I had to distance myself for awhile to get a grip on my life.

    Ok, I’ll shut up now. Bottom line: I think we’re all different and we all have to find our own way, for me going to a therapist was a huge step in the right direction, and then actually working on what he told me to do.

  2. Syd says:

    Barbara is right about all of us being different in how we approach living life. I know that after losing three people that I loved in a little over 3 months, I realize even more that my time is getting shorter by the day. I want to live my life with joy and not trying to run someone else’s. For me, I came to realize that I don’t have to be unhappy. I don’t have to worry and obsess. I can get to living by realizing that others have gotten along in their life without my interference. And I go to meetings to listen to people share that they too are learning to get a life and enjoy it, without the endless worry. We only have this one chance to live in this body. Maybe there are reincarnations, but for now, I simply must concentrate on taking care of me and not trying to solve everyone’s problems. Detachment with love is powerful. And understanding that I am truly powerless over what others do is also the cornerstone of my own recovery.

  3. Annette says:

    Oh Madyson….I don’t really know what to say. Remember that you are only seeing a glimpse of all of us here in our blogger community. When I read this I thought, “I wonder what my family would say if they read this?” Probably, “Joyful resilience?! HA!” I just posted a week or so ago on another blog, that I still cry everyday. Sometimes because I am happy, but sometimes because the tragedy of all of this still breaks my heart. So much has been lost…..but so much has been found too!
    My faith is a huge part of any serenity that I can muster up. Letting go of my expectations of how things *should* go, living in today, allowing her choices (and the consequences) to be her’s, knowing what I am able to offer her and what I am not, accepting her as she is, accepting that a life of struggling with sobriety may be it for us….and if it gets better, what a wonderful surprise that will be, realizing that I do not have the right to be punitive or derogatory to her. She is a human being and whether she is living according to my ideas of what is right or wrong, healthy or sick, she still deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. I can think back on things I used to do in the name of not enabling, or having boundaries (and in truth was more about my fear and need for control) that must have been so demoralizing and humiliating to her. I do what I need to to protect my own personal environment, but I do not do things only to have the upper hand or be in control….because anything I do that gives me that illusion, is a lie.
    My husband and I have been talking lately about the concept that when you don’t know what to do next, we should just stop and wait for some direction. When you are lost in the forest, they say to stand still, stay in one place…don’t run all over looking for a way out. That is kind of how we are doing things today. We don’t run around trying to find solutions to what ails our girl. its not our place. Its her’s.
    These are the things that have worked for me. That doesn’t mean that they will be enough for everyone else…I am the first to admit that I am not a complex person, I am straight forward, it all is what it is and I do what I need to do to make my way through it all. I don’t spend a lot of time wondering “why” anymore or bemoaning the fact that we don’t “deserve” this. No one does, but it happens. I can wallow or live. Most days I choose to live in spite of the sadness and the fear and the anger. Most days…..and apparently those are the days that I have shared the most. lol
    Much much love to you Madyson. I watched the TED talk and sent it out to all of my kids and my hub…almost all of who are gamer/computer nerds. Molly and I are the odd-balls who love people. lol

  4. Ron Grover says:

    Dear Madyson,

    What a post! So much has been said by 3 very wise people before me. In fact the notice of your post came up while I was checking my mail. If I wasn’t the first one to read it I was pretty close. Then all day I have thinking about what to say and finally I came to the conclusion you probably want it straight cause that’s how I say it best.

    We are all different and each of us must be what we are. Play to your strengths. I see Annette doing the things she does and wonder, how? I would never have the patience to do what she does. I admire people that do what she does. My admiration grows each day as I see my mother with Alzheimers and my sister playing the role of caregiver.

    Syd’s wisdom and thoughtfulness provides peace for me. I only know him from his writings but he is a person that one day I wish to shake his hand and give him a hug. He is one I feel has so much to teach so many but he seems to be a man that learns each day from others he meets.

    All of us must play to our strengths.

    Yes, of course I believe Alex’s success has a lot to do with my mission forward. To deny that would be lying to myself. However, I was writing before Alex got recovery and his recovery allowed me to relate another phase of my development.

    All day a joke I heard long ago kept coming to mind. I hope I don’t offend too many people but it relates to what you wrote. So here goes:

    James was the most faithful man that ever lived. He lived a life striving for perfection in his faith. Each day he prayed multiple times never failing to give thanks. Then on day James realized how much more he could do if he won the lottery. So each day he prayed and prayed many times for God to let him win the lottery.

    After about 6 weeks of this God is sitting under the tree sucking down a cold one and here it is James on the line again. God listens one more time and comes to a realization. “Holy shit, James is the most faithful man that is walking Earth, if I don’t answer his prayers there will come a day James may lose his faith and then everyone else will see James lose his faith and it will be like dominos.”

    James is in the middle of his lottery prayer once again and there is a voice from the sky, “Hey James, God here. I heard your prayer about the lottery.”

    James says, “Yeeessss.”

    God says, “You got to do one thing for me if you want to win the lottery.”

    James says, “Yes, God anything.”

    God says, “Meet me half way, you have to buy a ticket first.”

    Everybody knows I don’t do the religious or God thing but this joke spoke to me. No matter if you pray, wish, hope or just count on luck, am I doing my half?

    This is what each of us must ask ourself. If I want to be someplace what am I doing to get there?

    Dance to the music you hear. Don’t try to change the song or fire the band.

  5. My short answer (my guess) is that you’re just not there yet. Everyone comes to their time differently. Me, my ex, my daughter – we’ve all grown differently out of this experience. When I read the regrets, it’s #’s 4 and 5 that strike at my heart. I’m working on opening up to them. The fact that you know that you want what you see others have is a start. I’m sorry it’s not a great answer, but I think it’s true. Like the seed under the soil, you are growing…you just haven’t broken out to the sunshine yet.

  6. Annette says:

    Look at all of these wonderful responses! I LOVE love love our blogger community. Madyson, you are in process. We all are! You will find your way. I love how onemomtalking put it….”like the seed under the soil, you are growing. You just haven’t broken through to the sunshine yet.”

  7. Tori Lee says:

    What great responses! I often feel the same way you wrote about.

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