I was never a shining star in PA, but I was quite good in my chosen competitive sports. No, I was probably not god sent natural talent (I mean I had some inclinations) but what I had was willpower and the understanding that it does not need to be enjoyable. Difficulties were not difficult for me.
I am not justifying my abusive childhood here, but there is something I did learn watching my mum that was also used to pushing herself through pretty much everything. This something was that you just need to get through the difficulties, and these are not something that break you. While I was still growing up to my early twenties my mum had two fatal illnesses – fatal meaning with a success rate of survival below 20%. She defeated them both. I have no doubt it was because of what she was used to going through. Her friend all the while just had a minor illness and for years later complained that she cannot go to work because of the side effects.
I have gone through the operation that was life threatening. What amazed me the most was how easy the recovery seemed compared to what I had read from other people. Low and behold even doctors and physical therapists were surprised by my success. This success was not because I did not feel the pain. It was because feeling the pain was nothing new for me. I had done years of sports where pain was normal part of the sports. I had had years of emotional pain….Pain was nothing new for me.
Nobody chooses to feel the pain. This is not what it is about. But there are benefits in going through adversity and pain in early life which we can use for our benefit. It develops resilience. A lot of other people feel rather spoilt and tender compared to what we have gone through. This resilience combined with compassion is a tool which most people do not possess.
Don’t get me wrong. Having a difficult childhood sucks. Having multiple challenges in early life sucks. But there are gifts that result from it. Mostly it is the ability to push through pretty much everything. It is a weird combination of vulnerability on one hand, because these experiences make you more sensitive in many ways, but on the other hand, going through abuse demands extraordinary resilience. Surviving abuse, loss and pain early in life teaches you how to survive the worst. So whereas not preferable, there is something we can teach to the world out of this experience.