I’ve been thinking this week about resilience. Specifically, taking stock of my own resilience and finding out how I can improve it. People tell me I’m strong, but I’m not sure I am. I have great capacity to endure – that is, I can put up with a lot of shit for a long time (that’s not strength though in my books, that’s the opposite) – but I’m not sure whether I’m particularly resilient.
I heard resilience described once as ‘bouncebackabilty’ which was probably borne from the same boardroom as ‘blue sky thinking’ and ‘touching base’. But David Brent aside, I suppose resilience is about bouncing back. Thing is though, the idea of ‘bouncing’ suggests a certain speed that I don’t really have when it comes to getting over stuff.
I heal slowly but I heal well. Even physically, I know from experience that a c-section or even a small operation can leave me bedridden for weeks but my body does a fantastic job in that time of healing the skin well without infection.
I’m like that in my head too. I know that things have happened that could change how I am as a person but somehow the real me still seems to shine through (albeit maybe a bit dimmer). People let you down, people hurt you, but you have to bounce back.
I’m not sure I bounce back. It’s more like a commando crawl. But I get there. Eventually. I do wish my resilience kicked in quicker, like other people’s seem to. But maybe long term my way is better: feel it keenly now so that it doesn’t fuck you up further down the line. So that infection doesn’t set in, so that you’re left with a decent scar.
This week I’ve been paying attention to my resilience. I felt like I’d been making a comeback to myself, but then certain things set me back. All the same, I encouraged myself. When all the eggs smashed, I didn’t even swear under my breath. When the washing machine went on the fritz I took it in my stride. When I locked myself out of my online banking for 7 days I kept my cool. I took comfort in knowing that I might be feeling a hell of a lot lately but strangely one of the things I don’t feel is stressed. Maybe there just isn’t room in my head for it – what with everything else that’s been going on – but I’m going to claim it as a victory all the same.
Then, right at the end of the school week, came the beckoning finger from the teacher and the request to ‘have a word’. Spaghetti Legs is not cooperating, his behaviour has gone downhill lately. He is pretending not to hear the teachers, not doing as he is told, distracting other children at quiet times, and generally not listening.
This was too much for my improving sense of calmness. This wasn’t like when I spilt the bag of rice all over the kitchen floor moments before I had to leave the house but managed to clean it all without so much as frowning. Because this means more to me. This is my son.
On the drive home from school I bollock him. I am furious and have quiet tears running down my face as I snap my tellings off at the windscreen and they bounce off and reach him in the backseat. He cries and says he doesn’t like himself, and I reassure him that he should like himself because he’s a great kid and we all like and love him – although I don’t change my tone when I tell him this because I’m not done bollocking him yet.
I can’t stop myself. All of my anger at what I am going through is suddenly being vented at him.
“Do you want all the teachers to think you’re a naughty boy?” I demand to know. He answers back through his tears that no he doesn’t. I don’t leave it there. “Because they will think you’re a naughty boy forever if you carry on like this”. This makes him wail and I hate myself for saying it. It’s pointless, it’s not even accurate, and it’s quite mean of me.
I know that if I was in a better frame of mind I wouldn’t be losing my temper like this. I want to roar at him but I don’t. Because it’s not really him that I want to roar at. But he’s the only one in the car, he’s the only one who’s available and he’s the only one who’s opened the door slightly for me to vent at.
When we get home he tells me he doesn’t want to live with me anymore. I know that one day that won’t just be an upset threat from a four year old but a reality. I know that one day I am going to need real resilience.