I have always been so fascinated with resiliency, particularly what makes some people bounce back in the face of intense suffering and why others crumple. When my children were diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, I felt like I was ready to crumble. So I turned to my mentors and friends: books. There, I found stories and solace in the knowledge that it was indeed possible to recover and even triumph over tragedy. I decided that if others could do it, why couldn't I?
I was particularly fascinated with stories of the survivors of the holocaust. As a child, I was captivated, horrified and heart-broken by Anne Frank's stories in "The Diary of a Young Girl" and those of Corrie Ten Boom in "The Hiding Place". My husband and I visited the concentration camp, Dachau, when we were in Germany a year after we married. It was a very somber experience but we felt that a visit to Germany needed to include not only the beer halls and castles but also a peek at the other side of the country's history. Little did I know at the time, before children, that I would someday be turning my attention back towards those who walked those very grounds as my inspiration for finding my own resilience.
Trying to find my way in the newly diagnosed experience, I turned, again to such books and stories of survival. "Evidence Not Seen" by Darlene Deibler Rose is the true story of a young American missionary woman's courage and triumph of faith in the jungles of New Guinea and her four years in a notorious Japanese prison camp. Never to see her husband again, she was forced to sign a confession to a crime she did not commit and face the executioner's sword, only to be miraculously spared. I also looked to Joni Eareckson Tada who was, and is, paralyzed from the shoulders down in a diving accident as a teenager.
More recently, I have been inspired by Nicholas James "Nick" Vujicic who was born with no arms and no legs. And Dick Hoyt, and his son, Rick, who compete together in marathons and triathlons across the country by dad pushing son, who is wheelchair bound and profoundly physically disabled.
Of course in the "CF World", we have so many amazing role models of resilience. The Stenzel Twins, Ronnie and Amanda Sharpe, Emily Schaller, Jerry Cahill, Kathleen Burke, Elizabeth Nash and so very many others who are too numerous to name. Then of course there are parents who started the CF Foundation years ago as a way to fight back against their children's disease and the many who continue the daily fight for both care and a cure.
And now, I have discovered a new inspiration who is helping me to both understand and continue to discover my own resilience. My "new inspiration" is actually not so new. In fact, millions around the globe have been changed and inspired by him for generations. This is Viktor Frankl, a neurologist, psychiatrist and survivor of Auschwitz and Dachau concentration camps. Author of one of the best-selling books in history, "Man's Search for Meaning", his work is considered the "Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy" along with Sigmund Freud and Alfred Adler (whom much of my own work on parenting is based).
Frankl's theory, called logotherapy, is based on the belief that striving to find one's meaning or purpose in life is the primary and most powerful motivating force in human beings as opposed to Freud's striving for pleasure and Adler's striving for power. Frankl asserts that choosing to find finding meaning and purpose will carry individuals through suffering. I see this as the foundation of resiliency.
Here is an incredibly powerful 10 minute video clip of Dr. Frankl explaining his ideas. I hope this inspires you as much as it does me. It rings very true to my own experience of having two children with cystic fibrosis.