How To Persevere Over Adversity
(10 minute read)
I once had a dream I will never forget.
I was lying on a white sand beach in a beautiful tropical location.
My two eldest daughters were playing volleyball by the water. As I looked at them, I remember thinking: “They’re going to have so many boys wanting to be their boyfriends.”
My 4th daughter was building sand castles, lost in her own little world, completely disinterested in anything other than her little sand kingdom.
I pulled out my phone and checked my webstats.
$100k in revenue for the month. Not bad for the first week.
My 3rd daughter, my beautiful autistic princess, she gently grabbed my hand and in the sweetest voice possible said to me: “Daddy, can you take me to the bathroom?”
“Yes, sweetie, of course.”
As I got up from the sand, I looked to my beautiful wife, holding our 5th child. She looked like an angel with her baby bump.
“We’re going to the bathroom…” I say as my 3rd girl and I walk towards the beach washroom.
While I wait outside the girls bathroom, I order a gold plated Desert Eagle in .50 AE. I think to myself “It’ll be nice to have the transfer completed by the time I get home.”
My autistic girl walks out from the bathroom and smiles.
I had that dream shortly after I quit my last engineering job and decided to never work in the field again.
I was liquidating my small business and resolving to start over from scratch.
I had no income and a limit on how long the funds from liquidating all my business assets would keep us afloat. I ballparked the math at about 2 years.
I had to build a system that would allow me to stay home with my family so I could support my wife and 4 daughters.
Our autistic daughter, at 5 years old couldn’t talk, was still in diapers, had no situational awareness whatsoever, meaning if someone didn’t watch her for more than 10 seconds, she could injure herself or someone else. She could run out into the street with no awareness of traffic. She would walk off with complete strangers without a care.
She had (and still has) the sweetest smile. A look of permanent innocence that only small babies have. I know she’ll be okay in life because that smile instantly melts anyone’s heart.
Everywhere she would go, even though she would always cause a ruckus, grabbing, pinching and biting people.
Fairly often, if she was overwhelmed or frustrated she would ragdoll on the floor and meltdown, screaming at the top of her lungs a shrill shriek that if you didn’t know any better would make you think she was dying.
It was hard.
Every day felt (and still feels) like Basic Training.
I often found myself wondering what if in 2005 when I had been a Corporal in the Army Reserves what if I had gone on deployment to Afghanistan instead of staying home.
I was SO close to putting in my name, but when I met with my parents to tell them my intentions, for the second time in my life I saw my Dad cry, begging me not to go.
I didn’t put my name in.
Would that deployment had been as hard as waking up every day rushing to see if my daughter had smeared her diaper all over herself and her room?
Would it have been harder than having to spend another new years in the emergency room because she needed stiches after cutting herself when I turned my back for a minute to charge my phone.
Would it have been harder than to hear another girl her age in her Sunday school point to her and tell her Dad: “That’s the bad girl who messes everything up. Nobody likes her.”
Would a combat deployment have been as hard as struggling with the feeling of guilt from the nagging thought, almost every waking moment: “I have to outlive my child, because she’ll be helpless without me.”
I have buddies crippled by PTSD from their deployments, and I wonder if the horrors they see in their flashbacks are the same as the fear I felt every waking moment that if I let my daughter out of my sight for 10 seconds, I might never see her again.
The only thing I could compare it to in my mental frame of reference was Basic. The hardest physical experience of my life, but only an 8 week long course.
Every day for the past 4 years has felt like Basic.
For the first 2 years, every day felt like the moment I was on the field ex at CF Det Dundurn, Saskatchewan during the summer of 2001. (2 Platoon: “Following the Rock of Authority”).
In the dead of night, I stood inside my platoon’s bivouac, my pants and boots soaked in my own piss.
I had held it during my night shift while on sentry and we had been given explicit warnings against “cat sanitation” in the bush. I thought I could make it to the porta-potty but I held it just too long.
I just wanted to just quit and throw in the towel. But I didn’t.
The last 2 years (including 14 months of COVID lockdowns as of this writing), have felt more like a 10 km rucksack march during basic.
Like I’m carrying 100 lbs. of kit, physically and mentally exhausted, but still going. Like I can finish the march, no matter how tired I feel.
I can spend the rest of my life like this.
I wake up each morning and don’t touch my phone until I have written down in my paper journal 3 things I am grateful for, 3 things that would make the day great, and 5 things I HAVE to do.
Before bed every night, I write down 3 things that went well that day. 3 things that I can improve on and most importantly, rank myself on a scale of 1 to 10 on how well I acted in alignment to the dream of my family in a tropical paradise.
At least once a day I say to my wife and each of my children: “I love you, beautiful.”
Every night as I lay in bed beside my wife, I pray with her:
“Thank you God for this day, for every day before it, for every day to come. Thank you for my beautiful wife and our beautiful children. Bless us this night with restful sleep and beautiful dreams. Prepare our minds to receive all the blessings you’ve prepared for us with humility and grace. In Jesus name, Amen.”
Then I say to my wife: “You are the best wife in the world. You are the best mom in the world. You are the most beautiful woman in the world. You are the healthiest woman in the world. You are a precious gift from God, a tree of life for your children. You are an angel. You are loved. I love you.”
At times when I face challenges and adversity that make me feel like giving up I remember that dream of being with my family on a tropical beach.
That dream exists somewhere in my future.
I don’t know exactly how or when, but I know it will only be there if I keep going.
That is how you persevere over adversity.
Dream beautiful dreams and remember them.
Never forget or give up on your dreams no matter what adversity you face in the present.
The present is only just a memory in the future.
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