Could the Common Thread Be… ADVERSITY?

Yeah... they love each other!

Chloe woke me up this past Saturday morning at 1 AM. I was reasonably sure I hadn’t set my alarm for 1 in the morning, so I grouchily sweetly sat up and turned on the light to face the hound dog on my chest licking me anxiously.

“What’s up, Chloe? What’s wrong?”

I looked over to the other side of our bed and noticed my husband was missing. I don’t believe in partial raptures, so was a little bit worried as he had food poisoning the afternoon and evening before. He was one sick… erm… PUPPY. I again asked Chloe what was wrong. She quickly made a bee-line right for Terry. He was passed out cold in the floor!

There was a big bruise on his head and items were all over the floor. It was pretty obvious he had hit his head on the way down. Long story … shorter… he is fine and only has a small bruise on his forehead to show for all the excitement.

Chloe was never trained to alert me to falling husbands. I’m 100% sure that wasn’t on our skills test. Yet, she has been trained to let me know if something isn’t right – if something is out of the ordinary. I was amazed at her calm and immediate behavior in spite of never having any training for this specific task. I have heard many amazing “dog stories” of dog heroes who went above and beyond what was ever expected of them. Many of us know the stories of Balto, Rin-Tin-Tin, Hachiko, Old Yeller, Lassie and more! Dogs seem to have this uncanny ability to perform and succeed when it really matters. When a difference really NEEDS to be made, dogs seem to be able to make that difference. And yet…

Life’s Pressure Cooker

Doesn’t it seem like the same is true of people? Below is a quick list of stories that are examples of this. If you thought very long, you’d be able to come up with your own:

1. A lady I know with advanced Lymes disease is an encouragement to all she meets. She has become an expert on supplements and nutrition, helping others with Lymes and making a difference in her community. Even when she has a flare-up she is positive, upbeat and pushes through until she is in remission again.

2. My cousin, who has already seen her share of trials in her young life, was diagnosed with breast cancer last month. She had a mastectomy last week. She loves God, loves her family, and loves people. She is making a difference even as she faces this cancer, writing and blogging about her experience. I expect her blog to reveal “the good, the bad and the ugly”, while serving to encourage others going through the same.

3. My daughter had a very difficult 2009. It was the kind of year that totally changes a life. Slowly yet with very real determination, I see a young woman stepping out of the ruins “that was” and emerging as a resilient, courageous and influential woman who is going to make a difference in her world. I know this because she already is…

4. One of my peers in Chieftain Christian Academy successfully made it through surgery after being diagnosed with cancer. Throughout the entire ordeal she was positive and significant in her interactions with others. She continues to deal with numerous post-operative difficulties with grace and very real “class”.

5. I know so many people with hearing loss, cochlear implants and Meniere’s disease who make an incredible difference that I’m unable to list every story here. They took a devastating acquired disability and made it work for them as they advocate, encourage and help others.

We don’t exactly prepare for life’s pressures and hardships ahead of time. When we are born, we don’t come with a “how to” manual. We never plan for cancer, brain injury, disabilities, divorce, or the loss of loved ones. We don’t intentionally prepare for bankruptcy, unemployment or victimization. We aren’t trained to respond well in emergencies that are out of the ordinary. We don’t write chapters in our “life’s manuscript” that include all of these hardships… these trials. What is a common thread to all of the above success stories? Adversity. Something none of us hope to experience; but I’ll share some bad news with you. You are going to experience it. Everyone does. It will come.

It doesn’t make you a loser to “lose it” from time to time when you are going through it. That’s normal. You may belly-ache, get angry, lash out or hide. Those reactions are ALL normal. But don’t stay there… there isn’t a single “bad experience” that can sideline someone from life permanently. If it does it was a choice you made. We are resilient. My own “short list” of heroes would tell you a couple of key things, however!

1. God isn’t the enemy, He’s the only reason you get through.

2. Reach out to others. They want to help. Let them.

3. Look for others you can help along the way.

4. Prepare yourself for a long-term commitment in helping others when they experience what you made it through.

5. Be real. Heroes aren’t made overnight. You are going to shed plenty of tears.

6. Tell others. Blog, write, speak, and attend support groups. Share your story.

Yeah… adversity sucks. So isn’t it strange that it alone brings about this incredible transformation in a person’s life? Suddenly you completely “GET” what is really important. Life looks, sounds, smells and tastes different. More than ever before… life – and YOUR LIFE… matters.

Denise Portis

©2010 Personal Hearing Loss Journal

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5 thoughts on “Could the Common Thread Be… ADVERSITY?

  1. D, Thanks for sharing these insights, they are exactly what I needed to hear after a weekend of “losing it”. Thanks for being so strong, faithful and positive in spite of all you have gone through! You are an inspiration to many!

  2. Wow Denise…what happened to Terry is pretty scary. I am glad he is ok and Chloe is a real life saver. It really kind of flashbacks to what happened to me last June/July. You know, as bad as it sounds, we really should never take life for granted and count our blessings everyday. And we should be thankful for God. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Denise —

    Wow, as well.

    You always manage to take my breath away with what you write.

    Since hearing the Chloe and Terry story at Fidos For Freedom on Saturday, I have been telling it to the people who meet Ray, (when we are out in public), and they ask me “what can a hearing assistance dog do?” They are also amazed and moved deeply.

    Thank you for reminding me about the “common thread” and “getting through it with grace and dignity.” Because, sometimes, I also feel overwhelmed, or like I’m “losing it,” and while the “losing it” is not forever … I tend to beat myself up afterwards, for “losing it,” (having feelings and perhaps stumbling through them awkwardly for awhile), since I often expect the impossible from myself, while I easily allow others to be human.

    So, I’m going to work on not beating myself up anymore, and allowing myself my own human-ness; knowing that I am resilient and do come out of those “losing it” spaces.

    You are indeed a rare gem, my friend.

    Thank you.

    -Kim

  4. First let me say that I am glad that Terry is alright! What a wonderful tale (tail?) of intuition on the part of Chloe. I love this piece! I agree that adversity is the thread. It is at the core of what makes us human. The reminder to “be real” can’t be said enough. Thanks for sharing this one!

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