Fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed

Iron Goes Through Fire Before It Becomes Steel

As a child I grew up in an environment of unforgiving chaos and danger. Abusive violence and unpredictable explosive expressions of mental illness were my norm. Neglect was a positive thing in my world. I thought everyone lived this way for a long time – people could appear “normal,” but I assumed it was a facade. It wasn’t until I met my wife and began to be assimilated into her family that I learned this wasn’t true. It took many years of therapy and the love and support of my wife for me to understand my story. When my first psychiatrist told me I was exhibiting classic symptoms of PTSD (as an adult), I remember thinking WTF?

The thing is, I wasn’t exactly broken. I had learned to survive and adapt – a skill that would end up serving me well…

Now, I am well aware that things could have turned out very differently, but I want to make an important point here. Struggling and learning to adapt is critical to succeeding as a human being in life. I remember thinking, at some point in my therapy, that I had an edge over most other people. I could remain very cool and calculating in the most dangerous situations. I was hyper-aware of my environment and could read people and sense danger with a high degree of accuracy. I knew how to adapt to my surroundings to achieve the highest degree of functionality. I had learned these things in order to survive.

Overcoming exposure to crippling, extreme stress ultimately enhances our ability to adapt and survive. ¬†But the stress doesn’t have to be this severe¬†(indeed, it shouldn’t be) to achieve the same effect. Although every individuals ability to cope differs, we are all stronger than we realize. We are built to survive.