Life can present us with many challenges, especially when we least expect it. Although some of these challenges can be unimaginable and extremely difficult, it’s important to handle them with strength and grace. Difficult times often lead to lessons of personal power and finding your purpose. JJ Virgin, author of WARRIOR MOM, shares how she was able to discover herself.
In September 10, 2012, my sixteen-year-old son Grant was struck down by a hit-and-run driver while he was out walking, and was left for dead in the street.
I would have given anything in that moment to trade places with my son. I can close my eyes and still be standing there in the ICU, holding Grant’s hand while he was in a coma, awaiting the surgery we were told he wouldn’t survive, listening to the machines that were keeping him alive. He had a tube coming out of his head to manage the pressure from multiple brain bleeds, another out of his neck for his central line, and one from the wrist that wasn’t bandaged. He had a torn aorta (which kills 90 percent of people immediately, by the way) and thirteen fractures, plus severe road rash. The entire right side of his body was basically skinned raw. I know I don’t have to tell you what it feels like to see someone you love helpless like that. There is nothing more painful. It is shocking. His father, John, and I were told he most likely wouldn’t make it through the night and that we should let him go. We were given no hope. …
A year later, Grant was playing tennis and working out regularly, and was stronger than ever. … Today he is 85 percent back mentally and still improving every day.
For weeks while Grant was in a coma, I spent my days at the hospital, working next to his bedside. When this happened, I was about to launch my first big book and was in the middle of expanding my business. As a forty-nine-year-old single mother of two, I couldn’t let work slide while I focused on taking care of Grant. I needed to be able to support my kids now more than ever. The medical bills were already piling up, and I wasn’t going to let not having money stop me from giving my son whatever he needed when he woke up. While there were some people who encouraged me to focus on Grant and forget about work, success had never meant more to my family or to me. Showing up less just wasn’t an option. …
This was the worst time of my life. I had almost lost my son. His life was never going to be the same. I hadn’t had a single day in which I wasn’t at the hospital watching my child fight for his life, seeing it affect my other son, feeling guilty while I was on the road for work, wrestling my son away from fights with nurses, crying in private, praying for something better, and trying to show up every day for the people who were looking to me to help them with their own problems. And I knew that more hard days were still around each corner. This wasn’t behind us yet, and deep down I knew that it never really would be.
But I am the type of person who has to believe that I am going to turn the worst thing that ever could have happened to my son into the best thing that has ever happened to him. And sure enough, there were days of amazing progress that made the months following Grant’s accident into the best ones of my life as well. My son was alive, we were together, and every small step forward gave me so much hope. …
Over and over, people asked me, “How did you do it?” The truth is, I didn’t know. When Grant was in the hospital, I was operating on pure animal instinct. There was no time for me to stop and ask myself what I was doing or why, and I had no idea that our story could touch so many lives.
It wasn’t until after Grant was back home that I slowly began to make sense of everything that had happened. As I talked to friends and business associates both publicly and in private to process what I’d been through, it struck me that a number of them had experienced trauma in their own lives. It’s no coincidence that many of the people who had gone on to achieve great success had also been through devastating lows. The skills they needed to be successful were the same ones that had helped them persevere through tragedy, and vice versa.
I realized that without even being aware of it, when Grant was in the hospital, I’d been drawing on lessons I’d learned the hard way throughout my entire life. Using the same mindset and techniques that I’d used to face previous challenges, build my own business, and help hundreds of thousands of people lose weight and get healthier, I had not only survived the worst year of my life but had thrived. I was closer to my family than ever and my business was booming. Even better, I realized that I could teach other people those same skills and help them prepare for the best and worst that life has to offer. The lessons from Grant’s accident were bigger than me. They could reach far and wide and have a positive impact on thousands of people. That idea was exciting.
In WARRIOR MOM, I’ll share with you the seven lessons I learned during the hardest period of my life, lessons I relied on during the difficult times and that helped me discover and tap into my personal power and purpose. These lessons are universal; they’re not unique to me. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, build a better business, or bring a family member back from the brink of death, these lessons together create a mindset that will make you unstoppable.
Just remember, sadness can be a time of growth.