Just because it’s carried so well doesn’t mean that the burden isn’t heavy. And it doesn’t mean that’s how it’s supposed to be.
Resilience. It’s a wonderful trait to have, one which can get us through anything. But we’ve always glorified resilience so much that so many of us have grown up with toxic familial relationships in unhealthy home environments and have still done the best to survive, and thrive. Or have been in toxic work environments for financial stability, job security, or just to say we have a job, and we’ve done well at it with what we could. We’ve often been called strong and resilient.
But is that how it was supposed to be? This survival and thriving against all odds — was it normal? Was it how everybody else was doing it? Nope. That’s why their resilience was glorified. But hey, before you glorify resilience, take a minute to question it.
If you happen to have people you call family but just can’t deal with — those who continuously choose to hurt you emotionally and make you suffer — you might begin to have an existential crisis very early in life. And you may long to get out of the jungle and go settle someplace far away from that mess. You may crave freedom. You may ask questions like “Why me?” or “Why not anybody else? What did I do to deserve this?” The truth is, you’ll never know. It is what it is. It all comes down to privilege — the privilege of having an emotionally healthy, understanding, supportive, and loving family. Yes! That is a privilege, not known to so many. The presence or absence of the privilege results in how resilient they become.
You must choose not to be stuck with how those family members treat you. They’ll never change. Their personalities have already solidified by the time they were 20. And they’ll never be mature enough to see how their words and actions are affecting you, even if you held up a mirror and showed them. So you’ve got to limit your interactions with them and set a limit to how much time, space, and energy you share with them.
And the next time you see someone achieving great feats while having grown in a toxic environment and being amazingly resilient — in whatever circumstance and way that might be — just pause and think about the differences in your circumstances and theirs. Appreciate and respect them, but also think if they really deserved to go through so much and then triumph. Reflect on their greatness and all that eventually led to it. Also, how much resilience had to do with it — and why. What if they didn’t have to be that resilient? What if they didn’t face what they faced or didn’t go through what they had to go through? Question if what they went through was normal and healthy. Question if romanticizing toxic upbringing is what has led to people normalizing it. Question if dandelions really had to grow through those cracks in the concrete pavement or if they deserved to grow through clean earth, with nurturing care and ample sunlight.