When You Stand in a Storm, You Learn Who You Are

Mia Hayes
5 min readFeb 23, 2022

Adversity shows us that our strengths may be our weaknesses

Photo by Dziana Hasanbekava from Pexels

I know the exact moment: 8:35am, November 23, 2010. That’s when my husband was struck on his Vespa by a white pickup truck, and our world went into a tailspin.

It’s the moment my Type-A, I-never-cry personae crumbled and exposed my until-then-unknown fragility. It’s a moment, in hindsight, that I became stronger than I thought possible even though I fell apart for not days nor weeks, but years as I tried to fix my husband who suffered from PTSD and a brain injury. And through it all, I desperately tried to hold my husband and disintegrating family together as I fought to pull myself from the black pit of bipolar depression, self-harm, self-loathing.

The storm had come out of nowhere and grew in fury until I could no longer hear myself scream over the roar of the wind

Until James’s accident, I believed myself to be the strongest, most resilient women I knew. At sixteen, I decided to leave my home in Michigan and build a new life in California, and it had made me both resourceful and tough. I believed in myself and my ability to stand up to adversity and yell, “Fuck you. Just watch me crush this.”

But near-death experiences change you and realizing I almost lost my husband, the love of my life, sent me spiraling. Death, which had always been something that only happened to older people, could come whenever it wanted and that terrified me. I clung to James, afraid to let him out of my sight, and worried constantly about my boys.

After the accident, I wrongly believed:

  • I deserved everything that was happening because I did not drive James to work.
  • That I was a failure because I couldn’t fix James.
  • That I if I didn’t pretend everything was okay publicly, I was weak.
  • That no one would understand or offer support.
  • People expected me to be okay, and I owed it to them to be so.
  • All I had to do was be stronger and pull myself together.

My stubborn, I-can-do-it-myself attitude actually created more problems than solutions. What I thought was my strength had actually become my weakness.

Mia Hayes

40-something who 💯 doesn’t have it all figured out, but long story short, I survived. Love big. Love hard. Love you. www.miahayesauthor.com