While I was on vacation, I read Elizabeth Edwards recent book, Resilience: Reflections on the Burdens and Gifts of Facing Life’s Adversities. I was looking forward to the read because I've admired Ms. Edwards for the strong and graceful way she's handled herself while campaigning for her spouse, fighting terminal cancer and dealing with the adultery of spouse John Edwards.
When I finished, I posted a review in my examiner.com column; it wasn't favorable because I felt snookered by title. If it was Reflections, or My Life, I could have warmly accepted this book's content. But Resilience? I didn't feel the title matched the content.
When I got back to work this week, I started reading the comments. Many are the kind of things some women say that encourage other women to keep surviving, settling, limiting their own power. I don't see any victory in accepting the status quo, keeping the peace, putting on a happy face, not wanting to rock the boat, making do, or making sure everyone else is happy and satisfied, all while you are dying inside. That isn't resilience, at best, it's simple survival.
One reader commented that I'm naive. She said there are different "clubs" that we don't choose (illness, betrayal, loss of a child), and implied that I don't understand. Yes, I do. I understand all too well. My understanding colors my viewpoint. Though I'm not a "member" of one of the above mentioned clubs, my earlier life was riddled with family dysfunction, much of which continues to this day...without me being in it. Once I realized that I didn't have to live like that, and could make better choices, I did. I was determined that craziness would not rule my life; I would make a better life for myself. I have. When I knew better, I did better.
Over the past seven years, I've interviewed hundreds of women who have done the same. Most of them did not have Elizabeth Edwards upbringing, education or financial resources. They demonstrated their resilience through illness, betrayal, abuse, etc. The result was victory.
Still, I'm glad I read the book and see Ms. Edwards in a new light. And, in agreement with the general tone of the comments, I say, "God Bless You, Elizabeth!"
You can read the review and comments at http://tinyurl.com/ResilienceBookReview