As a survivor with keen interests in the sociology and psychology of what makes humans tick, this Latin phrase stands out most to me of all those I’ve come across. Literal translations range in meaning depending on where this phrase has been used.
In history, military soldiers had this phrase embroidered on their caps as they suffered painstakingly to protect their nation. The 27th infantry regiment in the United States, which was established in 1901, also adopted this phrase as its motto.
Several meanings have sprung from this phrase including:
“No Fear on Earth” (US 27th infantry)
“Difficulties be Damned” (British Duke of Lancaster Regiment)
Other translations include:
“Nor do hardships terrify”
“They don’t terrify the rough ones”
“Hardships do not deter us”
Today, this phrase, whichever one of the above translations applied, can best be used to describe my mental state of mind as I walked into a room filled with familiar, yet cold faces (the kind you see in a horror movie after everyone is possessed and zombified). I was not alone, but yet I was…
For the first time in over two and a half years, I was put in a position where help wasn’t available where I most needed it. While I have tried to escape the wretched and tyranny of my demise, I felt like I was back to square one- where it all started. Why? I did not know. After all, it’s been so long and I’ve made significant progress throughout the past few years and built a kingdom of warmth, strength, and grace that no one hands down in my mind could ever match.
That Little Voice inside My Head
That was where it all started… No amount of meditation or distraction could seem to drown a little squeaky, spineless voice inside the back of my mind, whispering, “You just aren’t good enough”. Wasn’t that the point of therapy? To completely eradicate and evict this voice since it wasn’t paying rent anyway?
Of course, when you least expect it, it echoes quietly through the fragments of your hair, out of your skull, right into your psyche where you were sure you had it gone and banished forever.
In cognitive therapy, triggers of depressive thoughts or stress (cognitive distortion) are identified before trying to fix the problem. The idea of focusing on the negative is approached by acknowledging first the triggers and thoughts that cause this uproar of negative and unnecessary emotions. Effective coping skills are then practiced and used to manipulate the process before a person feels entirely useless and incapable (flight or fight syndrome). This therapy shifts a person’s perspective and thought process to something more aligned with his goals so a more desirable behavior and reaction can be achieved.
Now, you must be thinking, in no way was I going through therapy right before I was placed in this situation! In fact, coping with this was the last thing on my mind as I walked into the room. But, like everything else, my trained response kicked in. Instead of looking at the face that placed “You aren’t good enough” into my head for years and years before, I started noticing the hideous outfit some lady had on in the corner of the room, the loud bickering of unhappy couples trying to ruin each other in the midst of their battles, and even the nicely blown-out hairstyle of the deputy sheriff (for the first time!).
Slowly, my thoughts only composed of “You are good enough” and eventually, as I sat in one of the folding chairs far back away from the center of the room, I thought, “Maybe you are way better than you think!”
Nec Aspera Terrent – My Mantra
I heard the voice of a wise man I love far, far away, “Steady… steady.” Another voice from a wise woman (how did you guess they might be related), “You’ll be good.”
A pat on the shoulder from someone dear who decided to tag along for support, always ready to flash a great smile of encouragement.
An unexpected message right before I walked in the room – “I love and believe in you.”
Numerous other messages from the morning sending love, hugs, and prayers from halfway across the globe flashed in my head.
My mind was a whirlwind spiraling with people who care and stood by me… I wasn’t alone. Difficulties be damned – Nec Aspera Terrent – No hardships shall terrify.
Someone called my name- my turn. Dang! (Thought bubble gone.)
As I approached the bench, my head was held high and it felt like an easy walk. No shifting or fidgeting, no darting around the room for who was watching me. I made my stand and walked out smiling after I received a nod of acknowledgement and acceptance shortly after. Done!
Did it matter that this entire issue still wasn’t resolved on the spot? No. Did I care that I still had a long journey to go of non-stop bulls#$% every six weeks or so? No.
What mattered was that I did it! I did it myself! I finally had the courage to stand tall and say what I needed to say, on my own, by myself, with no one to represent me at all. Would I have been able to do it a year or two ago? Maybe not. (Now my head is buzzing with I did it my way by Elvis Presley!)
THE CREDIT BELONGS TO THE MAN WHO IS ACTUALLY IN THE ARENA, WHOSE FACE IS MARRED BY DUST AND SWEAT AND BLOOD; WHO STRIVES VALIANTLY… WHO AT THE BEST KNOWS IN THE END THE TRIUMPH OF HIGH ACHIEVEMENT, AND WHO AT THE WORST, IF HE FAILS, AT LEAST FAILS WHILE DARING GREATLY.
~ THEODORE ROOSEVELT
My story has been silenced to protect those around me and to ensure a safe haven for us. Little did I know, that among everything else spinning around me while I was at a standstill, life kept going on and on…
What have I missed? I do not know, nor will I ever find out. One thing’s for sure,
the vulnerability I experienced standing up against what was wrong and for what I believed in was hell worth the risk rather than being quiet and hiding behind the blinds that keep my home enclosed and dark so no one could ever look in.
Is this a breakthrough, a blessing in disguise? Maybe, but how can I be sure unless I give it a go?
With lots of love, especially in times of struggle and hardship, Nec Aspera Terrent.