Updated: Jul 26
The last few months have taught me a lot about resiliency, receiving and recuperation and how they intersect. I have had the great fortune of having a lot of examples of resilient people and powerful, intentional living and considered myself very resilient. The last few months put that into question for me in a big way. When you look up the definition of resiliency in the dictionary you find: the ability of a person to adjust to or recover readily from illness, adversity, major life changes, etc.
Pivot and overcome illness? Check. I used to have pain so strong it would take the air out of me, and I would find myself suddenly screaming and crying on my knees from it out of nowhere. I had an entire year of daily migraines and was so anxious and depressed I only slept for 3-4 hours a night. Allergies ravaged my immune system and asthma made my panic attacks ticking time bombs. I worked very hard to still be breathing and living on this beautiful planet. Create beyond adversity? Check. Being a multi-racial Latina in the United States in the 80s and 90s, society and family told me more about what I couldn’t do than what I could do. Money was tight having dedicated parents who earned teachers’ salaries while caring for two medically complicated children and myself. My parents and key mentors along the way encouraged me to ask, “What CAN I do? What do I want my life to be like?” The “No’s” bolstered me to prove myself, to rebel against convention and to form something unique choice by choice. Move through life changes? Check. Check and double check. My parents each married and divorced multiple times and with the new people came new expectations, different communication styles, exposure to new worlds and backgrounds to learn from and either integrate or dispel. We also changed residences more than 10 times by the time I was 15 years old. Packing is one of my superpowers!
So resiliency has been a big theme of my life. When you define yourself as anything, though, it can become a limitation, and that’s what happened to me. I saw myself as strong, capable, and resilient and though I love growing and acquiring new skills, I didn’t think this was an area in which I needed more develop and perhaps I didn’t NEED it, but I sure got a whole new batch of lessons on it whether I wanted them or not in the last year.
When one issue after the another in my new apartment messed with my sense of safety, comfort and calm that activated my RESILIENCY PROGRAM. Get to work! Ask questions. Be proactive. Reach out and ask for what you want. Consider different avenues. That didn’t stop the more than 20 maintenance requests from needing to be submitted and for me to have to talk to the corporate office to get things addressed.
Then, I had a breakup that was unexpected and fast while simultaneously going to trainings where I was gaining leadership tools to address mindset, communication, and choice in a different way. I quickly realized during the classes that the way I saw resiliency didn’t leave as much room for receiving as I thought it did. More receiving was possible. More on this in a moment.
Then, Abuela Raquel, my grandmother died, and although we knew it was coming in many ways, when it finally happened the DO-WHATEVER-IS-REQUIRED sub-program kicked in and my mother and I flew to Puerto Rico together, landed at 1am, met her at her bedside at 2am and held her as she passed at 3am. It saddened me and yet I did what I’ve done that’s worked before and turned to gratitude.
I’m so grateful that I could be with her in her last moments and she wasn’t alone.
I’m grateful my mother and I have each other to tag team the tasks for the funeral and memorial.
I’m thankful that I am confident in Abuela’s love for me and that there is no doubt that she knew how much I loved her. What I didn’t expect is for the series of events from the two years prior that was then capped by momentous grief to have such a profound effect on my nervous system. I have so many tools available to me. I facilitate people to be able to have more ease partnering with their bodies, listening to their inner knowing and shapeshifting through challenges and I found my nervous system assaulted repeatedly from a seemingly never-ending onslaught. I ramped up my self-care and when I say “ramped up” I mean quadrupled literally. More time in nature, more workouts, more sleep, more energy work sessions. Unknowingly at the time, A DIFFERENT PROGRAM was turning on with potentially detrimental effects. I was trying so hard to give myself time to recuperate, process, heal and grieve.
I looked for systems to create more space in my business, so I could dedicate my time to clients, content creation and continuing to build rapport with my network. Administrative tasks, promotion and marketing can be handled by others, and I was eager to find a way to do that. Joining the Inspired Choices Network for my Choosing a Different Future podcast went a long way to receiving the support I was asking for and then the constant changes in my business team from the last few years took another blow and tasks kept getting put back on my plate, but my plate had shrunk. My body had no desire to work the 12-to-14-hour days that it would take to get everything done while my team members dealt with personal strife. My spirit couldn’t handle more when everything felt so raw and additional stressors in my living situation, at work and with family continued to pile on. By the end of 2022, I was feeling crushed by the weight of all the neglected business tasks, given the high standards I have for myself, and my business and it was negatively affecting my sleep. Every few weeks, I would need to change the combination of things that would provide me with quality rest.
After speaking with my boyfriend, trusted friends and my mother, it became apparent that I needed to get additional support from someone else. When you know how to tap into people’s bodies and realities you can tell who can receive what you have to say with poise and provide you with nuanced guidance and who will take what you say and make it about themselves or go into automatic responses like protection, guilt or sadness. I have very loving, competent and willing people to talk to. Yet, when I looked around most of them had low bandwidths as they were dealing with their own plethora of struggles and upheavals and/or they would go into hand-wringing about me, blaming themselves or protective hypervigilance mode. None of which I needed. None of which would have alleviated the pressure I felt.
It took weeks to find someone that was congruent with what I was looking for and with who I am. As soon as I saw my therapist’s profile picture my body leaned in with a “Yes” and as I read about her background and approach, the “Yes” just became louder and louder. Within the first session, I realized a lot about what had been playing into my challenges the last half of 2022 in particular. It wasn’t just the issues at my apartment plus my grandmother passing away plus work stress plus this or plus that. It was beyond computation. The program I had mentioned earlier that had started to run without my knowing it was cutting off my receiving of myself and what was possible now because I wasn’t totally in the present. I was simultaneously in the now treading water and trying not to drown amongst all the demands on my time, energy and attention while also re-living on a cellular level the worst time in my life 20 years ago. Yes, 20 years ago. I’ll write about that time on another occasion to save time, but in short, in just 4-5 months one traumatic event after another happened to me and it took everything in me, the love and support of family and friends and the help from a therapist for me to leave my apartment to attend classes even though I was vibrating with fear awaiting the next moment my world would be turned upside down again.
Each event created a knot in my mind that was being triggered to turn on with the passing of each loved one (more than 12 in the last 2 years), with crisis addressed, with each issue resolved and with each problem tackled. My body and reality had been doing very, very well given the tools in my arsenal until there was no break from the endless landslide. That’s what tipped the scales.
Resiliency requires recuperation time. Resiliency requires you being able to receive from yourself and your body in a clear way, but things were becoming a blur of grief, fatigue, frustration and anger. In my second therapy session, I recognized that I had been thinking, without knowing it, some of the thoughts that we the precursor thoughts to my suicide ideation 20 years ago. I had been directing my attention on finding new team members and finding a therapist and not on my thoughts, but in the sessions, I was finally able to unload and have it be received without judgment and significance. This allowed me to see the patterns and why I knew it was time to get more personalized treatments.
I’ve been undoing the knots in my mind with EMDR and Brainspotting which is a lovely combination of talk therapy, energy work and research-based intervention. I’m only a few weeks in and yet the echo of who I was and what I experienced 20 years ago is clearing the way for me to receive more of myself now. Yes, I was resilient 20 years ago. It got me to who I am now. I am resilient now.
I wish I had a pithy, inspiring, or insightful ending to this post. I do not. Self-care is a beautifully endless endeavor and I get that this new chapter of it for me is just beginning. What I CAN tell you is that I’m hopeful, more so than I have been in a long time, and I will keep you posted on my journey. For living…. exuberant, joyful, expansive living is an ongoing process and I’d like to traverse the winding roads of it for as long as I can with arms wide open to the infinite possibilities of what I can receive.
How about you?
Resource Links: EMDR: www.emdr.com
Inspired Choices Network: https://www.inspiredchoicesnetwork.com/
Choosing a Different Future podcast: https://www.inspiredchoicesnetwork.com/podcast/choosing-a-different-future-with-siris/
Siris Raquel Rivas-Verdejo is a Life Coach, Speech-Language Pathologist and Therapeutic Energy Worker, who helps busy individuals to connect with their bodies, use the power of language to their advantage and create phenomenal lives beyond what has been projected or expected of them. Explore her library of eBooks HERE and self-paced courses HERE.