spark of resiliency drawn in the hand of the authorResiliency is that little spark or voice that tells you that things can and will be different, hopefully, better. Even in the darkest of days or moments in my life, that spark has been there. It was that spark of resiliency that pushed me forward. That thing drove me to continue to fight against the things that I had grown up believing about myself. 

I don’t know what caused that spark of resiliency. I need to understand why I had that spark of resiliency when others did not. It is that question that started me on this journey. I don’t think I started with that spark. I think it came later in life when I began to question what I learned in an abusive environment. I don’t know if questioning is enough to develop the spark of resiliency.

Beginning Spark of Resiliency

But where does it come from? It’s a question that many scientists from different circles of academia have asked and are still trying to find the answers to. I don’t think that I will be able to answer those questions in my blog either. Rather an awareness that resiliency is something that we can learn. We are not beholden to any darkness that threatens to diminish our light. 

I think of resiliency, or the beginning of it, like a spark. It is akin to trying to get a campfire started with a spark with flint and tinder. There are nuances and angles that you have to get just right to get that one spark. And it is that spark that will ignite a larger fire. 

Much like fire, that small spark can and will spread to become a larger fire. As that fire grows larger, illuminating the darkness and pushing the shadows further away from that central flame. As the shadows moved away, I remember realizing that I was no longer stuck in the shadows. I needed to learn that because I thought I was lost forever within that darkness.

Pushing the Edges of Resiliency

As I noticed more of my surroundings without the darkness and the shadows, I was able to see clearly for the first time. In doing so, I was able to keep pushing the boundaries of that darkness. I was moving around the edges, feeling for those boundaries, I realized that there weren’t any. I thought I would find rigid boundaries, not the amorphous boundaries that I found, which separated the light from the dark. 

The only rigid boundaries were the ones that I gave myself. And those that were enforced upon me by others that became incorporated into my self-talk. It was that spark of resiliency that first started my questioning of those boundaries. And begin to question those thoughts that told me things about myself that were not true. 

As I continued exploring the edges of the space between the light and the dark, I began to see a gray area that separated those spaces. There wasn’t a hard line, nor a rigid boundary that held me within the light, nor within the darkness. And while I pushed and felt my way around that grey area, the light followed me. And so, with my spark, I was able to move the darkness back even more.

Is There Science to My Spark?

There is no science behind what I feel the changes that I made. But within the pushing of the boundaries, I imagine that my brain was forming new neural pathways. They circumvented the areas of darkness within my physical brain. My brain installed those roadblocks during the formative years of my brain to protect me from abuse. 

Childhood abuse affects the physical development of the brain. My brain is most likely no different. As soon as I have an fMRI, I will know for sure, but I can only make assumptions until that day. And I assume that my brain was restructuring itself, looking back on my reaction to an abusive environment. And it was during another formative time that I think that spark of resiliency began to ignite and push the boundaries of the darkness. 

Our brain goes through a pruning period around the time of being an adolescent. During that time, our brains are starting to pare back on the neural pathways that they no longer need. This paring back of neural pathways happens to coincide with teenage rebellion. As the brain evaluates the neural pathways and connections, it causes us to push against all of the things that we have learned. Hence, the teenage rebellion years.

Fuel to the Spark of Resiliency

And boy was it a spark, probably larger than anyone, even myself could have predicted. I took rebellion to a whole other level. Because I had to, for my survival. I didn’t know it then; I just knew that I had to keep pushing. I would do whatever it took to get that spark to become larger to keep pushing back that darkness. 

Other people in my life helped my spark to grow. I think they sensed that when my spark was starting to sputter. Those people were teachers, friends, and friend’s parents. It was almost like they felt I needed them to be there to give me something additional to provide that little spark more fuel. 

People always saw something within me that I have never seen. I think that was what got my spark going in the first place. Whatever it was they saw in me; it started something inside my mind. What they told me countered the abuse that I was enduring.

Continuing to Fuel the Spark

It took time for those words to sink into my inner dialogue. Unfortunately, every day I went home, what others told me was torn apart and thrown to the side during the day. And then, the next day, I heard words of encouragement again. That cycle continued until I moved out of the house. 

I am still working on keeping that spark alive. I had forgotten about it, or maybe I covered it up because I was sad that I lost it or that I thought I had lost that spark of resiliency. I was drowning that spark in alcohol. In part because I was miserable because I wasn’t pursuing my passion and purpose. 

Almost two years after starting my journey, sober, in therapy, and on medication for depression and anxiety, I found my spark again. It is in that rediscovery that I realize that I love that little part of me. And how much I have missed that part of myself.

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