In this world that takes so much and doesn’t usually give us anything in return, we have to advocate for our own happiness; we have to find and invest our time in the things that make our life worth living. I feel like I advocate for myself most days…other days I take the opposite approach but we all have our weak moments right? While being positive and choosing to live my life isn’t always easy, it does feel like my only option.
I am well aware of the things my injury has taken from me – I’m reminded every day. I also know all of the things I am still left with – I’m thankful every day. But has my injury given me anything? Of course my immediate and probably obvious answer would be to say that it has given me nothing. But like most things in this life, it isn’t quite that simple. As much as I would love to send my question out in to the cosmic void and forget about it, I’m afraid that would be highly out of character. My desire to find clarity and acceptance in my life has overruled any wishes I have of ignorance and because of that, I gave myself a task: Can I admit that my accident has given me anything positive?
It’s a big question and I’m sure it would come as no surprise that my immediate answers were of the sarcastic variety. But I discovered that no matter how sarcastic, small or seemingly insignificant my answers were…they were something. They are something. And they started the thought process that allowed me to find some real answers.
As I transferred over to my daughter’s bed last night for a special bedtime snuggle, I pulled my legs up on to the bed, boots and all. In her little voice she told me that my boots couldn’t come on the bed. I told her it was fine because they were clean. And that’s where we find ‘para-perk’ number one…my shoes are always clean – so clean in fact that my waterproof rain boots (that have never seen a puddle) could come up on her white duvet cover. And as I’m writing this right now, those same boots are up on my own bed. It’s the little things here people, just work with me.
Okay, I think I started with the weakest one…it’s all about the buildup though.
This next one is actually pretty exciting. I have a lower back tattoo (so wonderfully known as a ‘tramp stamp’) and it’s maybe not my most favourite thing. It was my first tattoo and I got talked in to something I didn’t really want. Anyways, none of it matters because nobody ever sees it anymore (including me!). Who needs tattoo removal when you can just break your back and spend your life in a chair? I think I went to far there didn’t I? Damn sarcasm.
I really think this one is less sarcastic and more actually awesome. The parking. I can’t lie…the parking is sweet (as long as it is open and lame people aren’t taking advantage). I definitely need the closer spot (you can read why here) but I still feel all VIP when I drive in to a busy parking lot and snag the open spot up front. Hell yeah I can park here…I’ve got my little blue tag. Admit it, you’re a little jealous of this one.
But parking is not the best ‘para-perk’. I know it’s shocking that there could be another but when I realized that I could get waxed without the pain of getting waxed I was pretty excited. The painless process to a smooth bikini line is everything I had ever hoped it would be. Is it worth a life of paralysis? Well, probably not. However I don’t have much of a choice in that department so I will take this one as a definite perk.
Now, since giving myself this little assignment, I’ve had to acknowledge some things that are real…not just clean shoes and pain-free hair removal. I have been asked numerous times if I would change what happened if I could. My answer remains as this. I cannot change what happened. I never will be able to change what happened. So what good does it do me to sit here and think about where my life would be had I not fallen? I’ve given myself space and tears for those thoughts. But I need to move forward; I need to evolve my thinking and my life. And in order for me to progress in any way, I have to look for the good. I have to concentrate not only on what I still have, but also on what I have been given. It’s hard to think that positive things can come out of something so awful in my life, but I can think of a couple…
I have met people. I have met wonderful, happy and life-affirming people. These are people who I never would have gotten to know before because wheelchairs made me uncomfortable and nervous. These are people that showed me that life can be whole again and that it can be fulfilling. These are the ones who showed me that it is okay to struggle and cry and hate what has happened but that there wouldn’t be much point in giving up on life being as it wasn’t taken away from us when it easily could have been. I am thankful to have met these people.
My eyes have been opened up to a much bigger world – so much bigger than me and my own little life. I am so much more aware of adversity, all kinds of adversity, and those that are overcoming it every day. Sadly, I am also more aware of those who cannot find their way through it and surrender. I feel like I have personally become a bigger part of the universe because of my pain and because I am more involved and attempting to make a difference in one way or another. I have found a purpose in sharing my story and creating awareness. I have grown as a person.
I never thought I could achieve some of the things that I have. I think I’ve made that pretty clear in my writing. But I was told very early on in my recovery that I was leaving an impact on people. My family, my community and even my doctors and nurses told me or my husband that I was strong and memorable…I felt a bit like a fraud when I would hear this because inside I was shattered and spiraling. What I now understand is that everyone knew all of that, but what they saw was that I was dealing with it – I was handling it. I truly believe that the reason I have come so far is because everyone believed in my ability to ‘handle it’. I certainly didn’t believe that I could…I’m still not sure some days. However, if everyone thought I could cope and carry on than I sure as hell was going to step up and cope. So I have. And I’ve grown and I’ve achieved things I never thought possible and probably never would have known about myself had I not been injured.
So there we have it I suppose…things I have now that I may not have had without my spinal cord injury. When I sat down to write this post I anticipated it to be mostly sarcastic and hopefully a little bit funny. I never imagined that in the process of writing, I would truly find those real pieces of appreciation and unexpected understanding. Goes to show you never know where your mind will take you if you let it.
On a more unfortunate note, my forever-clean shoes will never need replaced so I will have to throw them in a puddle if I ever want to justify new ones. Or I could lose one…people lose shoes right?