Bouncing Back

Bouncing back.

Bounce (verb) – to move quickly up, back, or away from a surface after hitting it.

Back (adverb) – toward the rear, in the opposite direction from the one that is facing or traveling.

Also known as resilience.

As a society we prize a resilient individual. The person who is able to come back from a challenge or traumatic event.

Following September 11, 2001 the ability to be resilient in the face of terror was a prized ability.

I’m not saying there is anything wrong with being able to bounce back from a tragedy.  But sometimes I think we take it a little too far.

I recently had an experience that really made me think about what bouncing back really looks like. This experience made me question if bouncing back is possible. Should it be possible?

One of my coworkers recently attended a 4 day training on preventing sexual violence. One of the days was a half day, so she and I had lunch together and chatted about the training. She shared with me that one of the things they talked about was how important it is to not alienate the perpetrator.  To make that person feel that there was some coming back from the terrible act hir had committed.

I kept my breathing calm – partially because I do believe that we can be forgiven. Indeed, forgiveness is crucial. But also because I did not want to come out to my coworker as a survivor. I know that “coming out” has a completely different context to survivors of abuse when compared to those who come out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender and I applaud those that have that bravery. The thing they have in common is how scary it can be to tell someone what you are or what you’ve experienced.

Thinking about my own experience, exclusive from greater social trends, is not something I have done for a long time. But the conversation we had sent me reeling back to that time. That, along with the new “memories” feature on Facebook, had me thinking about exactly what had happened. It was not pleasant. It was not cathartic. It made me realize that I have not fully healed from that experience. I have not “bounced back” to the person that I was.

This thing with the bouncing made me think about another part of my life that the phrase “bounce back” applies to.

I’m sure it is not shocking to you, dear reader, that my thoughts went to motherhood. There is so much talk about getting our bodies “back.” As though your body, my body, was stolen by this little child. And sometimes that is true, especially in the United States. Here, 51% of pregnancies are unintended. For me, this was something that was 100% intended. But still, I’m not the same.

After such a tremendous event, how can you go back to the way you were in any sense of the word? Your body is changed forever. Even if the scale says what it did prior to your pregnancy weight is distributed in new and unusual ways. Skin is stretched, it does not go back to it’s original tautness. How can your mind go back to the way it was? Chronic sleep deprivation, spending hours on end clapping and exclaiming “Hooray!”, and trying to get some time to yourself all ensure that you will never think about things in the same way again. And yet, there is so much pressure to be the same!

Now, it is true, I am slightly melancholy today. That said, here is the conclusion I have come to.

We need to stop!

There is no joy in staying the same. Relish in the changes.

Even things that were terrible, they made you who you are. And you are incredible!  You are someone who has traversed through adversity and made it out. You are someone who as brought life into the world. You are someone who makes a positive impact on those around you every day, whether you realize it or not.

Don’t keep wishing you could go back to being the same.

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