resilience of the heart

right now I’m working on a writing test for my students. the key aspect of this test is focused on resilience, and the resilience of rural communities. today I realized the irony of wrestling through this topic, at this time. I have not felt very resilient lately. I have been discovering dark parts of me that, when revealed, started to tear apart at the people around me, the people who love me, and some structures I have helped build. as I’m considering resilience of a place, I wonder what resilience means for a person.

most of the hardship in my life has not been physical. I grew up in a middle class home, in a quiet, boring, midwest town. I would ride my bike or rollerblade nearly every night during the warm months, or, in the cold, dark months, would read in my bedroom until my mom yelled that dinner was ready. but my parents fought, a lot. I wanted to please my parents, to not cause any trouble, but I always felt like I fell short.

in one of the articles for this test, it discusses how, in rural places, the notion of belonging within a community, and the community itself, is crucial for resilience (McManus et. al, 2011). for years, I have felt like a fraud in my religious community, in my marriage, and, less lately, at the place where I work. I have perpetuated this idea by isolating myself, not speaking honestly, and burying how I feel–and by not often asking for help.

for years, I’ve sought belonging and worth, and avoided rejection. but lately, I’ve felt my heart and my desires leaking, escaping, burning up, fleeing. I’ve felt chipped away, revealed, unable to hide any more. and I’ve spoken up. I’ve been honest. and I’ve even questioned my own desires–all of them. I’ve hurt those I love, who, I feel, are my protection.

I wonder if, all this time, I was resilient, or if I was simply surviving.