• Alicia Assad

The Truth Behind My Positively Curated Words and Photos

“Just let me be a mess, and when I am ready to piece myself back together, I’ll be even stronger than I was.”

Photos by JLM

Last week, I shared the news that we are relocating to Hong Kong and declared 2018 the year of adventure.

At least, I’m striving to own my #Adventure2018 goal, which feels more manageable with each comment and positive story I have received.

In fact, I've since gathered a long and inspiring list of women who generously shared their wisdom with me. The emerging theme of the messages I received this past week?

“I moved world-wide as a child. The experience was a gift. It made me who I am.”

Wise words of women I admire for various reasons have manifested into an authentically positive response to my oldest daughter's remorse about leaving. “You will thrive!” are the words I passionately relay to her, for I now have a beautiful vision of who my almost nine-year-old is yet to become.

Some of you even applauded my “courage,” and while I momentarily savored these compliments, I then felt, well…inauthentic.

I do NOT always feel courageous.

If I appear courageous, it’s because you are reading my carefully crafted sentences and peering at my life through a positively curated social media feed. Some of you have even commented, “How cool. You are so strong. I couldn’t do that.”

When I say, “Yes you could!” I mean it with my whole heart, because behind my happy photos and inspiring words is fear. Indeed, I am experiencing ALL those feelings YOU would feel if you are in the “Moving to Asia is scary!” camp.

Truth be told, I have been rather ungraceful these days, you just aren’t privy to the WHOLE picture.

So heed my bold confession: I have spent more time than I care to admit over the past few weeks as a blubbering mess. When Asia transitioned from a possibility to it’s happening, a tidal wave of emotion came crashing through my resolve. I cried as I told the kids' teachers and my friends. Sometimes, I would just burst into tears while I was driving around town or in the grocery store. I fought passionately with Eddie during a dinner with special friends (it was really ugly). Heck, I cried so hard on Christmas morning, I had to put Preparation H on my puffy eyes (yes, it works). Then, I wept through the days that followed even though we were on an awesome family ski vacation.

At some point during this breakdown, Eddie asked, "Where has your positive spirit gone?" I replied, “Just let me be a mess, and when I am ready to piece myself back together, I’ll be even stronger than I was.”

Somehow we both knew I meant it, because I’ve fallen apart and pieced myself back together a few times in the past decade in the aftermath of trauma and loss with the outcome of increased strength. Faith and acceptance allowed me the space I needed to process, and grieve what I must give up for the sake of adventure and growth.

Finally, those tears have dissipated, and the beauty I have found in this breakdown is that I am just a tiny bit stronger than I was.

Indeed, I am even more resilient.

I also feel much better having set the record straight about my "courage."

I am currently soldiering through the tasks required with breaking down my life and moving abroad. I am striving to be courageous. I am modeling resilience. But still, I am really scared.

I am excited, terrified, joy-filled, and sad ALL at the same time.

I am the WHOLE experience.

Therefore, if you ever look at my feed and think I am any stronger than you feel at any given moment, find your way to my blog and I’ll tell you here what’s really going on. I want you to know HOW I am managing, because I wasn't born resilient - I work hard at it.

In fact, I even studied resilience under Dr. Karen Reivich who is a leading expert in the fields of resilience, depression prevention and Positive Psychology. You can quickly read about her Resilience Ingredient List or pick up her book The Resilience Factor, but I point to Dr. Reivich today, because her words never fail to inspire me:

"Resilience is not all or nothing. It comes in amounts. You can be a little resilient, a lot resilient; resilient in some situations but not others. And, no matter how resilient you are today, you can become more resilient tomorrow."

Indeed, I have wavering amounts of resilience, but what always brings me back to a place of strength is authenticity. I learned this valuable lesson nearly five years ago when I found myself in a burn unit at the bedside of my toddler who was fighting for his life. I was nine months pregnant with a baby needing surgery, and I had a four-year-old daughter at home. In this moment of extreme vulnerability, I crafted an email to my dearest friends asking for help. I said,

"It's bad...I don't know how I'll cope...I can't face this alone...I need your help..."

Eventually the flood of support in my inbox was so overwhelming, I created a blog to keep my well-wishers in the loop.

Since I'm still blogging away, it appears that in hardest experience of my life, I discovered my calling to be a storyteller. This revelation inspires me to embrace the turmoil I am currently experiencing and write my way through what I know can lead to something soul-quenchingly good.

Hence, even if only for a moment, I'm feeling quite adventurous and thinking,

I am courageous enough.

I am strong enough.

These are positive and powerful statements, indeed, but they began as thoughts inspired by you. So thank you for reading my words, offering your support, and helping me find my way back to a place of resilience.

I have pieced myself back together again, and I am stronger than I was.