Components of Resilience: Creativity & Adaptability

This is part four of a series of posts dedicated to breaking down components of resilience. The series is an elaboration on a post I made in 2015, continued now as part of the June 2016 Carnival of Aces on Resiliency. In part one of this series, I covered tenacity. In part two, I covered affect management and positive frameworks. In part three, I covered support network and discernment.

In this final post, I will cover creativity and adaptability. Compared to most of the other items, these two are fairly self-explanatory. Since I don’t have to focus on giving an overview, I’ll be focusing more on my own experiences this time. Warning: I will discuss parental abuse, including some major privacy violations, and invalidation/gaslighting. I allude to but do not mention other kinds of abuse, but mostly it’s just general trauma/recovery talk.

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Components of Resilience: Support Network & Discernment

Support networks are a crucial part of resilience, and may even perhaps be the most important factor. It’s not hard to find evidence of the health impacts of isolation or the protective effects of having supportive community. Those with strong support networks are less likely to develop PTSD and among those who still do, good support is likely to significantly reduce symptom severity.

In order to have a healthy support network, you need to be able to recognize what healthy relationships look like. If you can’t recognize when a relationship is becoming unhealthy, you can’t take steps to keep yourself safe.

Discernment is the skill of perceiving, understanding, and exercising good judgment. A person with “discerning tastes” is someone who has strong preferences about aesthetic quality, like a gourmand. The psychological use of the term is much broader—it is more related to perception and decision-making in general.

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Components of Resilience: Affect Management & Positive Frameworks

This is part two of a series of posts dedicated to breaking down components of resilience. The series is an elaboration on a post I made in 2015, and is continued now as part of the June 2016 Carnival of Aces on Resiliency. In part one, I introduced the series and covered tenacity. In this post, I will cover affect management and positive frameworks.

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Components of Resilience: Tenacity

Have you ever gone through a time where things just keep coming? Where you keep getting knocked down, over and over and over again, every time you try to stand back up and start over? That’s me this past year.

I don’t really feel tenacious. I feel more like I’m under-leveled. And the only way to level up is just by grinding. Boring, frustrating grinding.

Here’s the thing that I think people are apt to misunderstand about tenacity: It’s not about never falling, or about how long you stay on the ground after you fall. That doesn’t matter. It’s just about getting back up, and trying again.

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Resilience through fiction, or that time I wrote a vampire novel that was secretly about trauma

This post is for the June 2016 Carnival of Aces, which is on the topic of “Resiliency.”

Content warnings: discussion of trauma and violence (sexual and not), mentions of substance abuse and suicidality and self-harm, all in the context of talking about a work of fiction

Between 2008 and 2011 I wrote the longest piece of writing (fiction or non-fiction) I’ve ever produced–a 133,472 word, 251 page (single-spaced) vampire novel.  I poured most of my creative energy into it for 3 years and then just hid it away in my hard drive.  I returned to it recently, when I mentioned in a conversation to a friend and suddenly became intensely curious whether it held up or not.  For the terminally curious, I liveblogged my reread, but this is not really a post about the vampire novel I wrote (thank goodness–no one wants to read about that).  Instead, it’s a post about resilience, how the vampire novel I wrote helped me process a lot of the things going on in my life, and the extent to which I can gauge how much I have grown and changed by looking back on it.

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Friday Question – Self-Care, Expanded Conceptions

What are some forms of self-care for you that people don’t typically suggest/encourage or think of as self-care?

– Are there things that you do to take care of yourself that you’ve had a hard time recognizing as a form of self-care? Have any of your needs gone unmet because of this?
– Are there things that others often suggest as self-care that just don’t work for you? What are they, and do you know why it is they don’t work for you? If you can articulate that, it may help with explaining to those people why they should stop suggesting that to you, or possibly help you figure out what it is that you need instead.
– Is it helpful for you to, as Miri put it, “distinguish between the self-care we do to replenish and sustain ourselves, and the self-care we do to prevent ourselves from falling to pieces completely”—in other words, to think about self-care very differently depending on what you need in the moment? What kinds of self-care work better when you need to replenish/sustain, and which work better when your goal is to just keep yourself together?

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An Ace Survivor’s Manifesto

I am allowed to occupy space in the universe, regardless of how “difficult” or “complicated” or “messy” I may be.

I am allowed to identify as a survivor or a victim or something else entirely. I am allowed to identify as asexual, even if I don’t know whether past experiences “caused” or “contributed to” my asexuality. I am allowed to use the words that work best for me.

Responsibility for my assault(s) lies with my attacker(s), not me, my sexual orientation, my relationship decisions, or my attitude toward or willingness to have sex.

I am not required to defend my sexual orientation because of my status as a survivor. I am not required to defend my status as a survivor because of my sexual orientation.

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When Sexual Abuse Comes in the Form of Words

One aspect of CSA that I don’t see discussed very often is sexually charged verbal abuse. My experience with this is as a CSA survivor specifically, but I could also see where it could potentially be an issue for adult survivors of sexual violence well.

In my own experience, the sexualized verbal abuse I was subjected to has actually been one of the hardest aspects to recover from long term.

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When there never was any “before”

Not every trauma survivour has had a life before the trauma/s. It can have happened/started in early childhood and/or there may be no memories of a life before or independent of trauma.

Even for people where there was a “before”, recovery is not about going back to that state, especially not if the “before” was a long time ago, in childhood or in a completely different stage of life.

We know it’s hard. Having to figure out everything new, what is a healthy coping mechanism and what’s not doing me good, how does a healthy relationship work/feel, what are my likes, interests, needs, skills, beliefs. What is my personality, who am I and what is really me and what is “just” due to trauma. This is hard to figure out and painful to even have to adress in the first place.

But it’s possible.

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