Who better to talk about adversity than Christopher Reeve? He said, “When the first Superman movie came out I was frequently asked “What is a hero?” My answer was that a hero is someone who commits a courageous action without considering the consequences…Now my definition is completely different. I think a hero is an ordinary individual who finds strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.”

Wouldn’t it be nice if we can all approach life like that and be able to bring back balance and harmony to our lives? Because we are being stretched to the limit, as we nurture our growing children, our aging parents, our professional lives and our personal selves, it’s even more important to know how to handle adversity when it comes knocking at our door.

For me, it wasn’t until I experienced the greatest challenge of my life that I realized how unprepared I was to cope. That time became a dramatic awakening that ultimately led to personal growth and an ongoing spiritual journey of exploration and fulfillment.

It started in the early part of 1978 when I became pregnant. My husband and I were ecstatic and planned on having a natural delivery at a birthing center in New York City.

Unfortunately, from the moment I conceived, I had morning, afternoon and evening sickness.
I couldn’t wait for the first three months of pregnancy to end, because I believed I would feel better. I didn’t.

Finally, on one of my routine doctor’s visits, my OB/GYN advised me to see a gastroenterologist for tests. The results came as a shock during this, my introduction to the miracle of motherhood. I had Crohn’s Disease, an inflammation of the intestines, which was considered incurable, highly debilitating, painful and chronic. Although it was not life-threatening, here I was five months pregnant with an incurable disease! My fear of the unknown was my greatest enemy and threat. I didn’t know what to expect or how my lifestyle would be changed.

I cried continuously for three days. Through a twist of fate, I already knew something about Crohn’s Disease because my brother-in-law suffered from it. He had endured several operations and had taken numerous drugs to alleviate both his discomfort and prevent subsequent flare-ups. Knowing this scared me even more, since I was concerned that these drugs might harm my unborn child.

I became depressed and wallowed in my misfortune for hours on end. I felt I’d been doomed to a lifetime of misery and hopelessness. Fear seemed to rule my life.

Fortunately for me, I was surrounded by people who supported and encouraged me. My sister recommended I read, “Three Magic Words” by U.S. Anderson, which explained the Law of Attraction, the concept that we attract into our lives what we put the most attention on. The book explained that we are the creators of our own reality and that by harnessing this knowledge, we can make powerful changes that even create what we most desire. This was a new and profound notion for me to contemplate. Could I, at this crisis point in my life, take charge and turn my life around?

In desperation, I started meditating to find some answers, as the book suggested. In quiet introspective moments I realized that somehow, in some way, there was a lesson for me to learn from this frightening, challenging experience. I continued meditating daily, disciplining myself to visualize total health, my whole body healed. I began to feel more in control, less like a helpless victim. I started believing I was an important factor in my own healing process. I felt I made a major shift in my perception of the situation and I was able to finally feel hope and even experience inner peace. With this renewed motivation, I decided to explore alternative treatments and see where it took me. If this didn’t work, I would most certainly do the medical route. Fortunately, for me, I didn’t have to go there.

Meditation and visualizations became a big part of my healing process, along with a healthy eating style, and positive attitude. This gave me comfort, reinforcement and a sense of inner calm. I kept my faith through setbacks and discouraging times, because I always knew I was on a perfect path towards my success. It just felt right!

It’s been 30 years and I haven’t had any recurring symptoms. I consider this illness a wonderful blessing, because it changed my life and spiritual focus. It sent me on a voyage into the sublime realms of my body, mind and soul. From this crisis, I learned perseverance, faith, love, discipline and commitment. I learned that setbacks do not mean failure, nor do they mean defeat. I learned to believe in myself and to trust my intuitive sense. I especially learned to keep my mind steadfast on the positive and to focus on the end result with determination and conviction.

The principles I followed 30 years ago, I still use today. I am now confidently experiencing a new career and I am more enthused and excited about life than ever. I firmly believe that anything is possible with the right direction and the right support. Someone once told me that the difference between “try” and “triumph” is a little “umph” and I believe that in order to triumph over adversity, that little push from within is the difference between being a victim or being a victor.

Author's Bio: 

Amy Sherman, LMHC, is a licensed mental health counselor in private practice. She is the author of “Distress-Free Aging: A Boomer’s Guide to Creating a Fulfilled and Purposeful Life.” Contact Amy at amy@bummedoutboomer.com or 561-281-2975. Go to bummedoutboomer.com for further information.