As the saying goes, 'the hardest battles are given to the strongest soldiers'. If you aren't big on life quotes you may completely dismiss that, but in any case, know that you are capable of overcoming even the toughest of life's battles.
The following Quora writers did it, and so could you!
For more stories, take a look at the original source thread at the end of the article.
Dealing With My Abusive Mother
“The hardest thing I have ever done is cut off all communication with my mother.
She had me when she was 18 years old. In a time when it was much more socially acceptable to abort a child, my teenage mother and 19-year-old father opted to go the marriage route and raise a child along the way.
The years were hard for them. My mother had to sacrifice her dream of attending college and making a career for herself so she could raise her child. She worked full time as a secretary while my father worked part-time and attended college in the evenings. Through a combination of family, friends, neighbors and the occasional babysitter, I was shuffled around in different types of care while they were away.
As a child growing up, I never wanted for anything. They provided for my every need, from toys to clothing to food. I was a happy child because of their sacrifices.
As the years went on though, the family fell apart. My mother enjoyed more than her fair share of drink, no doubt coming from a long and distinguished family history. She constantly belittled and demeaned my father and me, and I always assumed this was a reaction to some kind of blame or spite she had for us for ruining her life.
My father and mother separated after over twenty years together, and I left my broken home and found solace in the barracks of a military college and later in the military. I never went home, because there was no home to return to.
For a time, I was bitter at both my parents for splitting up, even though I was a young man, I was still a spoiled child, and my feelings proved it. My mother began to seek out more comfort in the bottom of a bottle. With it came more hate, more vitriol and more egotism pointed at my father and me.
Just as her partying spun out of control, my father found love again and remarried a wonderful, lovely lady. This, frankly, upset me deeply. I felt like he moved on and I was stuck holding the wreckage that was my mother. I called my father one day and let him know how I felt. It was a conversation that I still deeply regret to this day. I am still so embarrassed by the things I said, and I am ashamed that we didn’t speak again after that for five years because of me. Because I was a brat.
As for my mother, she called one night in a stupor and threatened the life of my new wife. At that point, I knew that her erratic behavior was out of control. I begged her to get help, to stop her destructive lifestyle. Only after the birth of my first child did I realize that I was starting down that dark path too, and so I quit drinking. I knew I would destroy my marriage if I didn’t get myself under control. I started to really talk to my wife about this, and ask her to forgive me and help me. I didn’t want to turn into my mother, and my wife and my children were not deserving of going through what my father and I did. I learned from my mother. It was a hard lesson, but a valuable one. Happily, my relationship with my wife and kids are the best they have ever been.
Ironically, my mother never seemed to learn the very lesson she taught. She refused to believe that anything that had happened between my father, her and I was her fault. Her belittling of my father was, for her, a matter of interpretation. Her demeaning of me and my wife was a lack of tough skin, so she thought.
Until she got help, I couldn’t expose her to my family. She continued to believe that she was doing nothing wrong, so I stopped calling. I stopped visiting, and I made it clear that she needed to get help.
I have since reconciled with my father, and I think we are on the best of terms. My mother, though, hasn’t seemed to change. I called her for the first time in nine years during these past holidays. We spoke a bit about things, and then I began to catch the occasional snide remark towards me. I was unable to get ahold of her on Christmas Day, and she accused me of lying and saying that I never called.
I haven’t spoken to her since but I know she hasn’t changed.
I am so very grateful for my parents and the sacrifices that they made for me, but I have to draw the line when it comes to my own family. I simply cannot expose my wife and my children to a person who refuses to come to grips with her demons and lacks forgiveness in her heart.
If she ever calls and asks for my help with a genuine willingness to change for the better, I will be there. But I don’t see that ever happening.
It’s too bad. She’s missing out on some superb grandkids.”
Trekking In The Himalayas
“Being a trekking enthusiast, I decided in May of 2009 to do some trekking in the Himalayas. I registered myself with Youth Hostels Association of India (YHAI). The batch I registered in happened to be the first batch, starting the 1st May in 2009. We had 6 camps in total during the course of the trek. The 4th campsite was located at an altitude of 13,800 feet.
We started walking at around 5.30 a.m. and it was snowing, not heavily though. The visibility was quite good. By 8 o’clock we reached the top and now we were walking in an open, densely clouded and windy atmosphere. The snowing got worse and the temperature fell to almost minus 17 degrees celsius. All of our supplies were frozen. We were left without a drop of water or a morsel of palatable food. All that was left to do was to walk with a herd mentality. The winds were shaking us from all the sides and it was too difficult to survive. That was the first time I ever got scared for my life. With my nose and lips bleeding, the jackets stuck to our backs, innumerable blisters inside our shoes, we walked for a good 5 kilometers till we reached a sliding point. The climate grew harsher.
Now, after the sliding point, as we are walking one lady collapses followed by another. Both women had extensive trekking experience, and by extensive I mean 20 years or so. They couldn’t feel anything, not even a pinch on their arm or a slap on their cheeks. Frozen stiff from the storm, they started breathing heavily. I along with three more able trekkers carried them on tarpaulin sheets. We covered the descent faster than usual as we had to keep ourselves and the ailing women alive. We crossed the snow point and then began the jungle with lots of muddy paths and tiny streams. We carried them to the camp, where they were supplied oxygen. But no life-saving equipment was available. I ate and slept for 16 straight hours. The skin on my back was ripped. Similar was the case of my feet. The following morning I found out the two ladies had succumbed. The cause of death remained unknown till the bodies were taken to the base camp by the porters. The autopsy reports suggested pulmonary oedema.
It was a team effort indeed. A few batches canceled their reservations on hearing the news of the first batch. Trying to save the lives of the ladies as well as mine will remain the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”
Leaning To Accept The Reality Of Life
“Playing with an injured leg in Armenia’s National Basketball Championship finals’ game was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.
I was the starting shooting guard for Polytechnic Basketball Club in Armenia. In the National Basketball Championship Finals’ first quarter, I severely injured my leg. I shot two free throws and signaled the coach that I could play. I wanted to play. All my sweat in the practices was for this day.
But I wasn’t lucky enough. I couldn’t run. I could barely walk. The coach substituted me and I had ice on my leg. The player who substituted me did poorly – letting his player score twice and air-balling in a minute of playing time.
I realized that I had to play to help my teammates. I told my coach to put me in the game. The pain had receded a bit, and it seemed like I could run at half my normal pace. My leg still burned but, in the end, it wouldn’t have mattered if we won the game.
But, we lost it…
We lost it by a few points even though I played through pain. And after the game, it took my leg weeks to recover from the injury. At that time, I could barely walk. Yet, I learned one of the hardest lessons of my life:
SOMETIMES THINGS ARE OUT OF MY HANDS.
I did everything I could – played with a severe pain – yet we lost it, the championship. I learned to accept this reality of life. It is what it is. I don’t cry anymore when something doesn’t go according to my plan. I learned to accept the way things are…
Sometimes, good and sometimes, sad.”
Being Released From Solitary Confinement
“I spent 8 years in solitary confinement and was released from it. The first week I was out, I couldn’t sleep because I was used to sleeping in a lighted cell, on a rubber mat with lots of noise but now all of a sudden I had darkness, quietness, and comfort. I would freak out around people since I hadn’t had human contact in so long and panic attacks would take over when certain things would trigger it. The food was too rich for my system and I didn’t know how to deal with positive emotions so I would break down crying over the smallest positive situations.
The good news is that 14 months later, I own a business helping others overcome adversity and find happiness.”
‘Admitting I Needed Help’
“The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do was admit that I needed help.
Before you think, ‘wow, this kid must be some loser that only appears in young adult novels.’ I’ll have you know that my life has its ups, too. I have quite a few friends and I enjoy soccer, music, writing, and science. So it didn’t suck like it stereotypically should, but it wasn’t all sunshine and butterflies either.
Growing up, I was always self-sufficient because my dad needed to devote much of his time and effort to making enough money to support the two of us. He tried his best to be there, but sometimes circumstances got the best of him. I couldn’t blame him – after all, being a single parent in New York City is probably the hardest financial struggle to exist. I was always used to coming home to an empty apartment, getting good grades by myself, cooking, and doing chores. I missed my father, but I never said it because I didn’t want to add another worry on his shoulders.
I kept this bold face on at school for years, only ever opening up to one of my close friends. Other kids often made fun of me because of the way I dress or the low-quality stuff I owned, and later bullied me, even more, when I came out. I let them use me because I knew some of them had it worse than me, and me being their punching bag made them feel somewhat satisfied with their lives. All the time, I never opened up on how much they really bothered me.
Then one day in July of 2016, I snapped. I was sick of my father never being there and noticing something was wrong with his son. I was tired of the teachers who expected more and more of me the better I performed. I was done with the intolerant excuse of human beings that I came face-to-face with Monday through Friday.
So I ran away.
I dumped all my books out of my backpack and took only what I thought were the bare essentials – clothes, a toothbrush, antiperspirant, water bottle, energy bars, $400 in cash, and my phone and charger. I dyed my hair (originally brown) black with green highlights using cheap hair dye and a do-it-yourself video. And I left.
The first night out of my house, I slept on the N-train alongside two homeless women and ate one of my several energy bars.
The next day I stopped by a Walgreens to freshen up in the bathrooms. Then I got a dollar menu burger for lunch ( or brunch) and strolled around the city until I decided to take a break at Starbucks (and use their free Wi-Fi to check my Snapchat).
Here comes the downfall.
Out of the million people in NYC, one of the baristas happened to be the daughter of my dad’s co-worker. Freaking perfect. She called the cops because my dad had apparently missed work to look for me and some of his closest co-workers knew what had happened. The cops came and took me to the police station, where they then called my dad.
Following that was the juvenile court system (who convicted me of a status offense), psychiatric evaluations, and a week at a youth mental ward in a hospital. Everyone pushed me to ask for help but I blatantly refused to admit anything was wrong. It was like a metaphorical tug-of-war with two people of equal strength.
The evening before I was set to be discharged from the hospital, my dad visited me in my temporary bedroom after work. No doctors, no cops, no therapists. Just him. He brought my favorite childhood toy – a matching Marlin and Nemo plush toy pairing because they resembled my family.
I hugged Nemo close, and my dad put his arms around me. No words were said for several moments.
Then, I asked him, ‘I missed you. I miss my friends, too. And Sensei Tang and Coach Davenport and everyone and everything. Why can’t I be normal?’
He replied, ‘Because some people are made to be different. After all, how many boring office workers made history?’
I smiled just a little. ‘I still want to get outta here though.’
‘You’re leaving tomorrow’, he reminded me.
I struggled for several seconds to put the words I needed in my mouth.
‘Dad, please help me.’
He kissed my forehead. ‘I’m more than happy to.’
I was discharged with a diagnosis of bipolar and generalized anxiety and am currently on medication and seeing a therapist once a week.”
‘Be Ready To Die In It, Or Don’t Do It At All’
“About 7 years ago, I was laying in a hospital bed about to die.
(Wow, way to keep it light, dude…)
I had a lung infection I was walking around with for months without realizing it because I was so wrapped up in what I was working on I was burning the candle at both ends, and then taking a blowtorch to the center of the said candle.
And then one day, I woke up in the hospital. They’re seriously talking about taking out a piece of my lung to get rid of a cyst that had developed to try and combat a secondary infection. They’re talking about calling the family to say goodbyes, as the prognosis isn’t good.
I remember I was seriously upset about it. I specifically told them not to cut me open, and to find another way to fix it. But that’s not what I was upset about.
I was mad because all of the time leading up to that moment was what I would politely term as wasted time. Ignoring people I love in pursuit of something that was, in the end, just. Not. Freaking. Worth it.
Being faced with your own mortality is far worse than the platitudes you read like, ‘YOLO’ (ugh) and ‘we all have this one life…’ That sort of thing was just useless to me.
And it still is, in a way. It’s usually spouted by people who I strongly suspect have never really been touched by tragedy, or smelled death in their every exhale.
It’s a sickly sweet smell, by the way. It makes sips of water taste like pond scum. It’s cloying, like walking past a Yankee Candle shop in the mall, but all the time. It’s unavoidable.
I cried, at least I did whenever my body would afford me the energy to waste. I tingled all over because I couldn’t get enough oxygen no matter how hard I tried to suck in air… And the effort to do so was pitiful.
And in my mind, I raged…
Against myself and my own selfishness…
Against the happenstance of a random microbe gaining purchase…
Against the loneliness, I had unthinkingly wrought upon myself…
Against the doctors who watched, calmly and callously detached from the outcome…
I had turned away everyone and everything close to me in some Ahab-esque pursuit of an obsession. Worse still, I had found it. Met it. Conquered it. Alone.
I still think about that line in Moby Dick where he talks about if his heart was a cannon he would’ve shot it at the beast. I almost did or did my best to try.
Recovery from that sickness took months.
In that time – not all at once – I had a lot of time to think upon what had brought me to some sort of lesson or resolution. I learned to appreciate the decisions I had made and the choices of others who moved on because I left them no choice. I learned to reassess and re-evaluate why I do what I do, and how I do it.
But the main lesson I learned – and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done – was to inculcate this lesson into everything I’ve done from here on out: It isn’t enough to just say,’You made your bed, now lay in it.’
You better be prepared to die in it. The gravity of decisions I make now is a lot lighter because of this truth. And it’s actually really liberating.
I don’t give a care what other people think, or at least not so much. I care more, and more deliberately. I still make mistakes, but I like to think they’re not the callous moves of lack of care or the omission of good intent. I’m forgiving of myself and others when things go wrong. I don’t hold a grudge… I mean, seriously, what’s the point? I don’t do what I don’t want to, because life and time are precious, and shouldn’t be wasted. I don’t agonize over decisions anymore. Momentum succeeds where inertia prevails, and I know now I can always change course if I’m going the wrong way. I appreciate those moments when I’m ‘wasting time’ because they aren’t wasted. I choose them.
I cuss less when I’m driving. I drive slower. I’m not in a mindless race anymore. A turn signal isn’t a message to the enemy, it’s a helpful communication of intent. I want you to get home safe, even if it’s not something you’re thinking about. So I drive carefully.
Mainly, I appreciate the value of everything I do and do nothing, NOTHING without being present – in the moment – as best as I’m able.
Oh, and Love? If I Love someone, they’re sure going to know it… I flood them with it. No one close to me will ever again doubt it or wonder. That means I’m playing grab-butt and smooching in public, and if you’re offended by public displays of affection that’s YOUR problem. But the recipient of that Love with a Capital L isn’t ever going to think I held back.
If you’re in my life? I chose you. If you’re not, well… I Love you anyway, even if it’s at a distance.
This is your time. This is your turn. Your moment is right around the corner… It may even already be here. So choose. Stop leaving it to chance. Stop worrying about what others think…
That’s the hardest thing I’ve ever accomplished, and the lesson is ongoing – learn how to be ready to die in it, or don’t do it at all.”
Points are edited for clarity.