The Art of the Comeback: Resilience

Shania Twain is on the cover of AARP this month. Yes, I’m a member, and, yes, I read the magazine. I hadn’t known what happened to her, but I certainly remember her meteoric rise in country music and can sing several of her toe-tapping, female-empowering tunes. She truly did make me feel like a woman even if I was just mopping the floors in my domestic household.

She disappeared from the music scene. I didn’t notice. My life went on. After I picked up my magazine this morning on the front porch, I eagerly turned to the article to put the pieces together. She is making a comeback after a series of life blows including the loss of her instrument — her voice. The article is about comebacks of celebrities over 50, but it made me think about my own reinventions and the people I know who have made comebacks in their lives.

If we are lucky, we get the opportunity to reinvent ourselves. Yeah, yeah. I know it’s devastating when something bad happens that ruins your life, but it’s the only time that we usually take the opportunity to go back to the drawing board and take a new look at where we are headed and where we might want to end up.

It’s the reinventing that makes life worth living. I have reinvented myself after divorce, after recovering from an addiction and in my career. I feel another reinvention coming on. Something inside is telling me that a new way of being is percolating. I can ignore it and wait for the wrecking ball of change to make way, or I can choose to make the change willingly. I’ve done it both ways and both have their gifts.

The AARP article provides some tips on making a comeback, but I’ll give you my version here. The first thing I do is accept where I am and grieve the loss of what once was. I literally spent two years after my second divorce in this spot. I spent that time evaluating who I was, identifying the issues I brought to that marriage and considering my choices for the future. I also spent time taking care of myself. I started running. I changed my diet. I got back to practicing yoga and meditation. I practiced healing my codependency issues. I had to lean in to the destruction and understand its anatomy before moving on to the next stage.

It’s this stage of grieving and evaluation that people want to skip. They want to get to the next step. Sometimes, you do have to get to the next step if you’ve suffered a job loss (that’s happened to me, too) as you have to eat. But if you move on too quickly, you just end up traveling down the same path and end up with the same pile of rubble somewhere else down the road. Besides, there’s always something you are bringing to it that needs to be corrected. If you don’t identify that, the broken cog keeps on tripping you up.

Exploring was the fun part!

The second step for me was the exploration. I made myself sit in exploration for awhile. I wouldn’t let myself date because I knew I’d just end up in another relationship. I explored my life as a single person. I took up camping. I got a dog. I made a list of things I thought I’d like to do and tried them. I learned to budget and take care of myself better. Somewhere along the way, I realized that I liked being single and that maybe, for me, that was a better way to be.

It’s a humbling process to look at your own shortcomings and start over. But when we are most humbled, we are much more open to the possibilities. The job that doesn’t pay as much is a necessity. The vacation that is not extravagant actually seems quite interesting. Keeping up with Joneses begins to look kind of frivolous. A different kind of life that never appealed to you all of a sudden has some attractive elements. Faith, which may have seemed weird before, may become the only hope you have.

When I am more open to change because I need something, I see more options. It’s my openness to change to that matters. Life provides. We either pass on the options or we grab one or two. And in grabbing the options and exploring them, we will find our way back. “Back” may look totally different than the successes of the past.

I have known so many people that have made comebacks. Every single one feels better about where they are now. As humans we are very resilient. We fear change, job loss, the loss of a partner, a debilitating illness and a myriad of other tragedies. We can choose to adapt. Or we can choose to wallow in the ruins and decry our bad luck. The irony is that what we feared most can become the most important story of our lives.

From my experience, the steps to being resilient in the face of tragedy are:

Take the journey to acceptance. Grieve the losses. Identify your part. Understand yourself and what truly happened. Try humility on for size. Sit in the rubble and pick through it.

Explore the options to move forward. Go wide. Resist hasty or desperate choices. Be open to the synchronicities that bring you to new realizations. Resist just rebuilding the same structure to ease your anxiety.

When a path begins to feel right, keep exploring it. Go deep. Meet people on the same path. Do what they did to get where they are. Take some classes or get a mentor. Learn and take some risks.

Enjoy your new life. Mentor others coming along the way. Appreciate the new landscape. Write or record your journey. Someone else needs the encouragement.

Did you make a comeback in your life? What are the steps you took?

2 Comments on “The Art of the Comeback: Resilience

  1. This lovely! Thank you for the reminder to keep going, to ‘explore’ more and to take risks.

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