Life isn't perfect. Everyone experiences misfortune at some point(s) in their life, and while it may start out as a negative ordeal, it doesn't have to stay that way. More often than not, adverse situations in your life can turn into learning experiences; teaching you not only about the ability to overcome, but also about others, and about yourself. Many of us assume that we don't need to know any more about ourselves than we already know, but adversity pushes those seemingly absolute boundaries and causes change and reactions that we'd never see otherwise.
An Example of Adversity in My Own Life
Arguably, pretty much my entire childhood was an adverse experience. My mom was never very patient with me and my sister as kids, and struggled with depression and bipolar disorder significantly, resulting in the use of lots of different pharmaceutical drugs. She'd scream and yell at us constantly for arguing a bit, playing and having fun "too loudly", and consistently have our dad punish us when he got home from work.
That wasn't so bad, it was basically like having strict parents. But what really pushed everything over the edge was when my grandmother (my mom's mother) passed away. My mom fell into an even deeper form of depression than she had before, relying even more heavily on the drugs to keep her emotions "in check". It's understandable to grieve when someone close to you passes away, and everyone handles it differently so I tried my best to be patient with her, even through the coming events.
To give you a few examples of just how bad my childhood was after my grandmother passed away, the first was that literally for months on end my mom would lock herself in her bedroom, and never eat dinner or come out to see us. The only time we'd see her is if she was screaming at us. My mom has a high-pitched voice when she screams, and my younger sister once when my mom was having another fit, started laughing at the sound of her voice.
My mom pinned her down on a bed and forced a pillow over her face, suffocating her for several seconds. I tried to push my mom off and yelled that she was only joking and she didn't mean it. When she finally released my sister, I held her close, the laughter on her face turned to pure terror and shock. I can't even imagine what she was thinking. I remember screaming at my mom for doing this, not just because I was angry about what she did to my sister, but also to draw the attention back to me so my sister wasn't taking the brunt of it.
Further along the timeline, after experiencing several suicide scares with my mother, we all sort of grew numb to it. It had literally gotten to the point that she'd say she would off herself at least once a month, to both my sister and I as well as our dad. A couple times she actually did attempt it, and ended up in the hospital with some fake cover-up story, and ended up back home again, the same miserable person that she always was.
The most recent attempt was a couple years back now, I had just moved out and was living ~40 miled away in a different city. My older brother had already been out of the house for years as he was 10+ years older than me, and serving in the military. One day I get a strange phone call from a friend of my brother's I'd never met, saying that some serious shit was going down at home with my mom, and I needed to get up there immediately. He'd called because my brother was overseas and didn't have an option of calling me, so he asked his close friend to.
I hopped in my truck and nearly speed up the canyon the whole way home, having no idea what to expect, but also expecting the worst. My sister was 16 or 17 at the time, and still didn't have her driver's license, but I found her driving my dad's car on the only small road away from our house. I slammed on the breaks and pulled over, running to the driver's side of the car.
"Mom and dad got in a fight, dad got super drunk and upset and drove off and has his phone turned off, and mom's not responding, she overdosed on depression meds or something, I even tried throwing water on her face and she won't wake up." She said, obviously distraught. I yelled for her to move over and let me drive and get 911 (emergency service in the USA) on the phone.
My mom was face down on the seat, no movement, no response, I couldn't even feel a pulse. Tears streamed from my eyes as I screamed her name, telling her to wake up with no avail. She was a horrible mother and I hated her for all the years of abuse she put us through, but she didn't deserve to die.
I practically screamed to the 911 operators the situation, and I remember speeding down the highway 10-20 miles over the speed limit, asking them to tell the cops to ignore us because my mother could die.
We made it to the meeting spot, and next thing I know I'm in the front of an ambulance with 6-8 paramedics in the back trying to resuscitate my mom, tears streaming down my face and hyperventilating, the ambulance hurtling down the canyon to the nearest hospital, horn blaring. I'll never forget that moment. I thought she'd be dead before we ever got there and I'd hear that horrible flat-line noise from the heart monitor. I remember even feeling guilty for the poor paramedic that had to listen to my histerical sobbing next to him.
My mom spent nearly a week in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) as they pumped her stomach, a breathing tube shoved down her throat because she wasn't even breathing on her own. She was weak, and couldn't talk for almost a week afterwards because the breathing tube had hurt her throat, and all she really did was glare at us. If I hadn't left my apartment when I did to get up to the house to my sister and mom, she'd probably be dead.
After her recovery, she was bitter and spiteful. She blamed me and my sister for everything, and blamed my dad for "ruining their marriage" when he'd also put up with her ridiculous shit for years. I was furious at her for that. How dare she blame him when all he's ever been is supportive and she's the one that's been an absolute monster? The people at the hospital forced her into a mental ward, because of the depression, the drug abuse, and also to keep her on suicide watch.
Weeks later, it finally ocurred to my mom. It was as if for years on end, almost an entire decade, she always felt she never did anything wrong, and it was everyone else's fault. It finally sunk in. Nearly 10 years of guilt for her actions all came crashing down at once. All the times she screamed and yelled and abused, and she didn't even remember the worst parts. That was probably the worst part. Life-changing events for me and my sister, like your own parent attempting to suffocate you, something you never forget, and my mom doesn't even remember doing it.
It took my mom almost a whole year, but she finally turned herself around. She was actually a happy person. She apologized to my sister and I profusely for months on end, begging us for forgiveness, fearing she'd lost her only children left. It took me almost a year to finally forgive her and let her back into my life, but my sister still holds a grudge and I don't really blame her.
The change in my mom was incredible. In a sad way, I was almost proud of how far she had come. It took her almost a decade and a near-death experience to realize how horrible she'd been to us, but she was finally a good parent. She was patient, she was kind, she never screamed anymore.
It was almost unnerving, surreal. When you spend that much time with an abusive parent and then suddenly they're not anymore, it doesn't feel real. You keep second-guessing yourself, expecting them to snap at any second and revert to their old ways. I was scared for months of this happening, of a repeat of my childhood.
It never came, fortunately.
Learning to Overcome
There are two main things that I learned from this one, massive, continued experience.
One, is patience for others and forgiveness towards other people. Some people endure experiences like this and hate the person forever. That's fine, in some cases it's necessary, but for me personally, I wouldn't consider hating the person forever a "resolution", it'd just be more like coping with a problem that still exists. On the other hand, having patience with someone is a thin line, especially when it comes to abuse, both physical and mental. If you're ever in an abusive relationship, you need to get out. Patience doesn't mean you need to endure undue suffering for someone else. Patience is being brave enough to accept that some people will never change, and some people will take a long time to change. Change in people doesn't usually happen overnight.
The second thing I learned is about myself. I learned that I never wanted to grow up to be like my mom. To this day I still avoid taking prescription drugs whenever possible, not even something as simple as ibuprofen for pain relief. If I can heal without the medication, albeit maybe painfully if it's something physical, I'll do it. I also learned that I like making others happy. I was always sort of this "therapist" in my family, and even now they still come to me to vent or talk. I don't particularly like listening to people complain all the time, but I do like causing happiness in others.
I learned that I like doing things for other people, giving them warm, fuzzy feelings of joy inside, because for a long time, I didn't have that.