“The most important thing about recovery is to pass the message on.”
– Maurice Gibb
I lay here in amazement from last night’s discoveries. A part of me I never knew; A surge of a lifelong hidden pain secretly just emerged from the ocean. Moments before, I had begged the universe and angels to please help me and guide me, as I was feeling very sad unaware of what to do. That is when a wave as big as a tsunami hit.
I was eleven; an innocent, smiley, happy child with blonde hair. I remember that day so clearly. I was beaming with happiness. It was the last day of school. I was so proud. Now I was “big.” Next year I would be in junior high no longer a youngster in elementary school. Super excitement filled my heart as it was the first day of summer June 21.st Three months of fun, laughter, and play were ahead! I couldn’t be happier! Life was a fairytale for me.
Like every Friday afternoon, my brother Prometheus and I were waiting for the bus to go to Tang Soo Do School. We waited on a long dirt road that led to an intersection of two other roads. We stood near a donkey and water trough, where farmers brought their animals to drink. As usual, we were dressed in our all white Tang Soo Do outfit. Everything seemed to be going wonderfully, except for the bus being late. As we waited traffic went by. I started getting tired of standing and I asked my brother who was sitting down leaning up against a stop sign if I could sit there. “The bus will be here any moment,” he replied. So I just stood there waiting.
Suddenly everything stopped. I heard a car screech and I thought to myself, “another crazy driver”. There was a lot of smoke all around me, and then I could faintly see a red car spinning and coming towards me. Then I must have blanked out because I had no idea what happened to me. When I regained consciousness, my legs hurt tremendously. I found myself lying on the dirt road, several feet from where I was standing originally. My all white outfit was not white anymore it was covered in dirt. My legs felt weird, different like they were not part of me anymore, disconnected from my body. Almost like they were partially in the ground. The pain was excruciating.
I was very confused and felt much fear. I didn’t know if I would live, if I would be crippled, or lose a leg. I felt very weak and tired, I just wanted to sleep and hopefully when I woke up it would have all been a bad dream. Now with both my femur bones broken my reality switched 180 degrees.
A year of horror began: Being rushed to the hospital, the doctor cruelly yelling at me to stop crying as he violently placed a cast over my legs. Being inserted with a catheter, embarrassed and exposed in a room full of people. Being told I must be rushed to Athens as my case was too serious to stay on the island. Enduring excruciating pain as I was constantly being moved from room to room, bed to bed; I just wanted to sleep. Almost losing my leg as the doctor had placed the cast around my one leg too tight blocking my circulation, I was just an hour away from being amputated. Waking up in shock with these huge alien looking metal things now extending into my legs. My bum rotten and cut from not being cleansed properly by the nurses after going to the bathroom in the bedpan. Being bedridden unable to walk for seven months, separated from nature which I so dearly love.
The worst pain? The changing of my bandages twice a day in order to keep the wounds the holes open around the eight metal rods until they healed. Waking up one morning covered in ants feeding on my open leg wounds and unable to jump up and shake them off. Finally given crutches after seven months and realizing I no longer remember how to walk. Having the bars removed by the same alcoholic doctor who almost cost me my leg, gasping for air as he used no anesthetic or pain reliever.
This is just the physical pain, it comes and eventually it leaves forever. It is healed. What remains, and that which is central to it all, is the emotion behind every experience. That day I lost everything in the blink of an eye.
After my request from the Universe for help I began crying uncontrollably, like I never knew was possible. It was like a river rapidly forcefully pushing through. Images of this long past journey flashed through my head. All the memories were accompanied by this deep pain that cannot be described and I was unaware of its existence. It just came out of nowhere and hit me just as if it were that car. Suddenly I received an influx of profound insights, understandings about my life patterns, cycles, and ways of viewing things. It all makes sense now. Such a small event shaped the course of my life. There are many insights that I could share. I will mention some here.
"When you really listen to another person from their point of view, and reflect back to them that understanding, it’s like giving them emotional oxygen."
– Stephen Covey
I never really believed in romantic relationships. Possible but a rare occurrence I thought. The only person I could truly count on was myself. Pessimistic when it came to marriages & partnerships; thinking “in the end it doesn’t work out”. I blamed this belief on psychological explanations, my relationship with my parents, their failed marriage, a society filled with adultery and divorces. Now I understand where this belief really started.
During my recovery all the people around me that I thought loved me, and whom I loved, just disappeared. My friends vanished. My parents were wrapped up in meeting my physical needs, and so emotionally absent. I felt truly alone, abandoned, lying there day after day. As a child I transformed this into a reality where all those that love you and you love disappear. Relationships you thought you had changed and turned out to be unreal. From then on every time in my life I experienced a difficult or sad moment I felt alone and unloved which would bring to the surface unconsciously those hidden feelings from my accident making me fall even deeper into sorrow. Therefore I concluded that all relationships eventually did not last.
We become so preoccupied with physical and material things that we forget that which is probably the most important. My parents were so involved in giving their support to meet me during my recovery that they forgot the most significant matter of all, something that probably naturally happens in most cases of injuries and disabilities around the world. As we are not experiencing these things ourselves we perceive it through our eyes. It is not easy to juggle the taking care of a person and at the same time knowing what the other is going through.
Social support and relationships are key predictors to emotional recovery. Our bonds with family and friends can be deepened or the opposite can occur. Being in a position of perceived lack of emotional support it provided me with an understanding of the value of caring, and expressed feelings. Another wonderful gift I gained from this experience. A shirt, a car, even a home comes and goes can vanish so quickly, but what remains, what is stable and true for us, is that which cannot be touched; Feelings, emotions, thoughts, memories.
“Be patient and tough; someday this pain will be useful to you.”
– Ron Pope
Perhaps the greatest present from all this was that it raised my compassion, my empathy, and my understanding so that I can take this experience and in turn use it to help others in my life and profession. I have learned that emotional support is so important and a major key towards real happiness. It has provided me with some essential tools to use as a therapist and support person.
Any event small or big can have a greatly traumatic or vital effect on our lives. The severity does not depend on the size of the event but on the emotional impact it has on that individual, how we experience it. What can be highly traumatic for one can be nothing for another. A mere small act of a mother one day telling her child they are stupid can have a larger or similar result as with someone who was sexually abused or had to deal with the loss of a family member or friend. We cannot judge people’s emotions or impose ours based on our own perceptions, values, beliefs, and the way we live our own life. Every person is different with individual needs and their our own journey and path.
“The power we discover inside ourselves as we survive a life-threatening experience can be utilized equally well outside of crisis, too. I am, in every moment, capable of mustering the strength to survive again—or of tapping that strength in other good, productive, healthy ways.”
– Michele Rosenthal, Before the World Intruded
“I’m glad I lost myself, cuz I’m gonna create a better one now."
– Nouf Alfadl
Before the accident I viewed life as an adventure a place of mystery and excitement, it was a fairytale. After the accident I managed to regain this sense, the magic returned perhaps becoming even stronger. This provided an inner strength, a belief in myself, a trust in the world that no matter what happens, we can rise up and endure it all. No matter what comes, I would choose to see the beautiful things, to laugh and take in all the wonderful gifts life has to offer. I was forced to turn within and be my own support system, to believe in myself.
Life comes with its ups and downs. Giving us the tools to learn, expand, grow and truly get in touch with who we are. We can lose our legs, our arms, our voice, our sight but that which cannot be taken from us is our being.
"Sometimes a breakdown can be the beginning of a kind of breakthrough, a way of living in advance through a trauma that prepares you for a future of radical transformation.”
- Cherri Moraga
“A traumatic event doesn't doom us to suffer indefinitely. Instead, we can use it as a springboard to unleash our best qualities and lead happier lives.”
— Jane McGonigal
In numerology I am a five which stands for independence, freedom, adventure, and adaptability. In essence the ‘’accident’’ was the worst thing that could have happened to me. All these qualities that are central to my existence were taken away. Life was taken from me I no longer had one. I was separated from what I hold the most valuable in my life... Nature.
The Worst Part
A fairy that no longer had wings,
Imprisoned in the forbidden word
Separated from her siblings…
Plants & flowers. Unable to reach them,
A building- not a place for a fairy. She could not roam the forests,
Swim in the ocean, Dance on a mountain.
Her home was unreachable, So close but yet……impossible.
She longed for a window, So she could catch a view of the flowers…
That would give her hope.
But her wings were broken,
Her heart was broken.
Yet when you lose everything you eventually come to understand the value and the importance of so much and life. How fortunate humans are to have been given the gift of living, breathing, feeling and moving. That in itself is the greatest gift of all. If I could turn back time and change this event would I? Absolutely not. I am incredibly grateful for this experience and every moment of my life as it has brought me to where I am now and I look forward to all the “good’’ and “bad” ahead: the sorrows, joys, traumas, laughs, tears, hugs, disappointments and love. I await with open arms.
“Hardships often prepare ordinary people for an extraordinary destiny.”
– C.S. Lewis