Home Coping & Grief Would I Change It If I Could?

Would I Change It If I Could?

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Imagine you could re-write your life.

Would you do it?

Would you remove your struggles and omit all of your sadness and pain? Would you remedy every regret—every bad decision? Would you take more chances—different chances—or try harder? Would you sift through your life, altering details and discarding parts of your history onto the cutting room floor until ultimately editing all of the pieces together to create your one perfect story? 

Sounds tempting.

I’ve been sitting with this idea a lot lately—often wondering what our life would be like now had I not been paralyzed. It usually comes in the form of short daydreams and—as much as I resist them—the I wish I could thoughts invade. 

I wish I could take my kids swimming on my own.

I wish I could remember what it feels like to be barefoot in the grass.

I wish I could stand next to my husband. 

I wish I could physically be the woman I used to be.

And then I wonder—would I wager the life I’m living now in order to change what happened to me? Because I cannot have both. I cannot have my current reality and change my past—it’s impossible. 

If you’re a literal person, I’ve already lost you with this post. I say it’s impossible to change your past and keep your current life. You say it’s impossible to change your past at all so why are we even talking about this. But just go with me here for a minute. Please?

I believe life is a series of accidents. From the instant you are born, you are thrown into a life you have no real control over. And every moment that follows is a product of what came before and the decisions and actions of innumerable people—including yourself. When you truly consider everything that takes place in this world on a daily basis and can comprehend how the slightest change in your day could have impactful effects on your life, you start to take stock of where you are at and everything that had to happen for you to get there.

Now, I wish I wasn’t paralyzed. I wish my accident never happened and that instead we went back into our house to have dinner and put the kids to bed. I wish Ian went to work the next day and I took the kids to school and the accidental moments of our life went on from there. 

But our life didn’t go on from there. And if I were to change what actually happened, there would be no guarantee we would be where we are today: Together, healthy, safe, happy. So while it may seem perfectly reasonable to say that I would absolutely change what happened to me, I wouldn’t. 

I wouldn’t re-write my life because my life is good. Who am I to risk the life we are living and give it back to happenstance in order to ease this struggle? Who am I to erase the lessons, the conversations, the understanding and the growth in myself and my entire family? I don’t believe this happened for a reason, but I do believe we have given it purpose. 

Everyone has struggles and we all have regrets. And maybe your pain is too much. Maybe you would go back and re-write your story—I wouldn’t fault you for it. Making peace with the negative aspects of your history takes a lot of work and a lot of self-reflection and, even then, there are some things that are just too hard. But being able to look at your life in the present and say changing what happened to me isn’t worth risking what I have now, is a pretty powerful sentiment. 

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9 comments

helensamia July 26, 2019 - 2:16 pm

I would change my life back to not being paralysed…. i hate my life now …it is not what I thought it would be …there is so much I miss out on .. i have a wonderful husband beautiful home and family but I am constantly thinking about how it could have been … i just want to go for a walk or to stand for a while … sitting is painful our bodies are not meant to live that way ….

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Codi Darnell July 26, 2019 - 2:22 pm

I hear you. It’s not easy that’s for sure. Sending you love and strength

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Brendan Birth July 26, 2019 - 3:10 pm

“Maybe you would go back and re-write your story—I wouldn’t fault you for it. Making peace with the negative aspects of your history takes a lot of work and a lot of self-reflection and, even then, there are some things that are just too hard.”

It definitely took a lot of work to make peace with negative aspects of my history. I had to learn to realize that the negative aspects helped grow me into a better person, ultimately. But it certainly wasn’t easy.

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joannereedauthor July 26, 2019 - 3:16 pm

This was an incredibly brave and motivating post, thank you.

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Gina Allison July 26, 2019 - 3:24 pm

I would change my life back to not losing my mobility. It’s a daily struggle, especially as a mom. I feel all the things you feel. But there is also a side of this spinal cord injury that has taught my family a lot. It has brought us closer together at times, it has shown my kids compassion and although I wish I could have my walking back right this second, I have to believe that there is a lesson to be learned here.

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thegsandwich July 26, 2019 - 5:10 pm

Very compelling piece.

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Steph Cowie July 26, 2019 - 7:40 pm

This is one of my favorite posts of yours! This is certainly a tough one. I like to believe that there is a purpose for everything. And that we all need to believe in a higher power. My son actually told me that while this is a loss he is happier person in that having this injury has allowed us to become closer as a family. He said we were all racing around. Missing one another literally! Thank you Codi! Hope you don’t mind I shared your blog post. Thanks again.
Steph

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Codi Darnell July 26, 2019 - 9:05 pm

Thank you Steph! And thanks for sharing

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Kaitlyn July 27, 2019 - 10:15 am

“I don’t believe this happened for a reason, but I do believe we have given it purpose.”

Very well said. When tragedy strikes, so many people like to tell you that “everything happens for a reason” or that “God doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle” or maybe even “well, if you just prayed harder…” Like you, I don’t believe that. I think sometimes bad things just happen. However, it is human nature to want to invest meaning into the random calamities that strike our lives…and I think that our ability to give tragedy a purpose is far more meaningful than the trite sentiments given above.

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