Most days I feel like I have found my place. I have purpose, independence and feel grounded in my sense of self which reaches far beyond the simple terms of mother, wife and paraplegic. I find safety in our routines and notice that I laugh far more often than I cry. My injury, like everything else, exists only as a part of me and I venture through the days and weeks much like anyone else. It’s as though I’m following a trail through the forest, not quite sure where it leads but enjoying it knowing I will come out the other side. Then there are days where I reach a breaking point. The days where I take a wrong turn and lose sight of the trail. My injury fuels my anxiety until I’ve blurred my reality enough to believe that without it I would never have to deal with anything difficult. And that is when I struggle to see anything except my injury; That is when I struggle to get out of bed.
Do you have a favourite place? Somewhere that holds a special place in your heart? A place you return to knowing it will look the same and feel the same every time you go there as though it stays frozen in time during your absence? The first time I came here, I was sixteen years old. It quickly became one of my favourite places.
Bathing suits. The worst, right? I loved them as a teenager – I had a borderline obsessive collection of bikinis all meant to show off my adolescent figure untouched by pregnancy, breastfeeding, age or the unexpected. But three children – three c-sections – a few too many extra pounds and a whole lot of negative self-talk later, bathing suits became the enemy.
There is a quiet knock on my door. I convince myself it’s nothing even though I know you’re out there. But, you see, you’re very controlling and the last time you came in it took me years to fully recover. I’m going to try and ignore you – pretend you don’t exist – but I’ve dealt with you enough times to know you don’t leave on your own accord and will manipulate me until I take a stand. Even from the outside you have begun to entangle me in your own version of my reality.
“Wisdom begins in wonder” – Socrates
Every parent celebrates upon hearing their little one’s first words. But parenthood takes a dramatic turn for the wine cabinet when a child learns the word “why”. The relentless questions reveal the outer limits of our patience and, all too soon, our own knowledge. Once children figure out that the answers exist somewhere, “Can you google it then Mommy?” becomes another question in their repertoire. Their stream-of-consciousness method of questioning could be turned into the world’s most lethal drinking game but, I try to remind myself of the quote above that suggests we don’t learn by being complacent, we learn by being curious.
Being nominated as a top 30 blogger at VancouverMom.ca has been very exciting. Not only is it amazing to have my blog recognized, but to be chosen among 29 other women who are creating and sharing content they are passionate about is humbling. Help Codi Heal has grown with me through my injury and I wanted to give a quick snapshot of how it came to be.
This photo is a good representation of where Help Codi Heal began. I forget sometimes that the blog only exists because of my accident. It seems strange that something so fulfilling in my life stems from something that was so devastating. Although maybe I wouldn’t have needed fulfilled had the devastation never occurred.
Regardless, this was me. I was 3 days post-injury and overwhelmed with messages and phone calls and feeling incapable of responding to everyone in a meaningful way. Many would say I didn’t have to reply but I wanted people to know the truth and I wanted to reassure them that I was okay (or possibly, reassure myself). I started writing short posts on Facebook and Instagram to help keep people in the loop. The posts were honest because I didn’t see the point in being anything else. My posts got longer and the response got larger and eventually I realized that documenting this journey was beneficial for more than just myself.
That’s the short version of how Help Codi Heal came to be. I write here for many reasons from awareness to coping. But, at its core, it is about reassuring everyone (including myself) that life is good. It feels pretty great to be at a point where my blog is being recognized. Thank-you for following and thanks for voting!
You can vote daily now through June 8 for your favourite blogger at Vancouvermom.ca
You and me, we are different. In so many ways, we are different. That in itself is not unique to our situation. From Starbucks orders to philosophies on life and everything in-between, finding a fellow female who checks off all the same boxes that you do would be an impossible task. Even so, there is something about our contrasting physical abilities that seems to set apart my mom life from yours. Early on in my injury that rift between your motherhood and mine felt as wide as an ocean. But as time progressed, I realized that rift–and our differences–is actually minor and insignificant. I think that as human beings, and as mothers, we are more alike than you may realize.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I was never destined to be a world class athlete. I wanted to run at a reasonable pace around my neighborhood, keep up in a backyard soccer game, hike a few local trails with friends and buy an inexpensive bike from Wal-Mart to join in on those family rides around the block. Maybe I’d attempt some home workouts now and then. Maybe we would have all tried skiing together eventually. The point is, I liked being active and outdoors as long as it was relaxed and simple. I never did much that required a lot of equipment; I was happy with a pair of good runners and a yoga mat. But then there was that fall – and this spinal cord injury – and getting reasonably active got unreasonably complicated.
Lying in bed the other night, after a day that wasn’t unlike any other, I found myself suddenly apologizing. “I’m sorry I’m paralyzed”. My husband looked at me in that way he looks at me when I’ve said something completely unreasonable (I’m unreasonable fairly often so I know the look well). He jokingly told me to shut-up and we moved on. But as he drifted off to sleep I started to think about the kind of attention I bring to my injury. In many cases it is a joke or a comment to employ a sort of pre-emptive form of damage control. As though if I mention what I feel is the elephant in the room, I then take control over any obstacles that may arise because of said elephant. But I often also find myself apologizing for things that probably don’t require an apology. These are things that stem from the fact that I’m paralyzed. And paralysis, to be clear, is beyond my control (I triple-checked). So instead of falling asleep that night, I contemplated my approach. Why do I bring attention to my differences and apologize for my limitations? And should I stop?
What is strength? In the midst of this women’s empowerment wave we are riding, how do we define what it means to be a strong woman? We strive to be them, we strive to raise them and we strive to surround ourselves with them. But what is it that makes them? The definitions are evasive and become skewed by perception and tainted by experience. Strength is a very personal battle. It is having the persistence to go after the things in life that you deem important. It is about knowing yourself and your boundaries. It is about prioritizing your life so that it feels authentic to you. And because everyone has their own idea of what life is all about and what comes easily to one person may require a lot of effort from another, we end up with personal beliefs on what it means to have strength.