There is always a final straw, but it’s never any worse than the thousands of straws that fell before it. They were all the same. You just finally learned what you were going to accept, what you deserve and how you weren’t going to settle for less than the best. Life will let you get away with somethings for awhile, but sooner or later, you will pay the price. Everything in life has a cause and effect. Everything you do causes the effects you experience. When you get your bill, be prepared to pay.
There have been many times during my recovery where I have felt incredibly weak. I have felt like there was no purpose in continuing the fight, but one day I decided I was done settling. I wanted to be happy. I wanted to be heard, I wanted to be valued and I didn’t want to be taken for granted anymore. I finally realized people who couldn’t see the pain in my eyes and couldn’t hear the struggle in my voice would never truly understand my words. I learned how to be strong, brave and broken all at once.
Finding my happiness:
Happiness is a choice and it is something I have finally chosen. Nothing will make you happy if don’t choose to be happy. This wasn’t as easy as it sounds for me to choose. I first had to learn to accept myself, flaws and all. I have more scars and wounds than you will ever see because they are all in my head and heart. My severe traumatic brain injury and PTSD are both huge wounds that you can never see. My heart has wounds from my struggle to survive and from those I deeply loved who abandoned, betrayed, cheated and left me. So I built a cage around what was left of my heart so I wouldn’t be hurt again. I built up walls nobody could see over and I decided I was alone in this fight. But one day I realized this is not going to work. I need support. I deserve the pursuit of happiness. So I took down my walls and opened the cage. This is the greatest gift I ever gave to myself. You can’t deny yourself love and happiness just because you have been wronged. Everyone can say I love you or Im sorry but if they don’t have the actions to back up their words, their words mean nothing. Words are only words. You have to love yourself.
Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations. My road is starting to straighten up and I’m now walking towards the sunlight. We are all blind to the small things within us that make us brilliant and powerful. We are blind to our unique beauty. It is the smallest parts of us that give us our identity. I had lost my identity and I had lost sight of the small things within me that make me powerful. But I have rediscovered my power. I have relearned what makes me me. I have found my wit, intelligence, spirituality and compassion. I have finally found myself.
Make a promise to yourself to be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind. Find the silver lining in everything and make your optimism come true. Let go of the pain from your past and move forward to the great things that await you. Give yourself the time to improve upon yourself and forget the criticism of others. Strength grows in the moments when you think you can’t go on. It grows in the moments when you have to wipe away your tears, stand up tall and still continue to move forward because you are not the victim of your story, you are the heroine.
Do not judge me for the chapter in my life you have walked in on. I have been on an endless roller coaster since June 11, 2012 and in that time I have gone through Death, Life, Love, Betrayal, Loss, and Grief all while trying to recover and get back to being a “normal” 23-27yr old woman again. I have had to fight and be fearless on my journey. I never gave up on myself or on the hope that I will get better. It takes EVERYTHING inside of me to give up hope on something or someone. But on my road to recovery I have learned some very hard but valuable lessons about love and life..
1. How someone treats you is how they feel about you.
2. Pay attention to when someone reacts with anger and hostility to your boundaries because there you have found where their respect ends for you.
3. Stay away from people who can’t take responsibility for their actions and who try to make you feel bad for being upset when they do you wrong.
4. And last but not least when someone gets defensive and can’t answer your question they are hiding MUCH more from you than just the truth.
These are just a few lessons I have learned the hard way.
Gaining new perspective:
When you are trying to recover from a severe traumatic brain injury you realize every moment is precious. It only takes one shattering event of significant magnitude to change your perspective on life. After such an event you might start to realize that you are precious because if you weren’t then why were you saved 5 different times from death. Once you realize your time is precious you have to try your best to not waste it on people, thoughts or activities that don’t benefit you in your recovery. You have to rule your mind or it will rule you. Remember you hold the power to your thoughts. While recovering I learned I had to remain in control of my mind. I had to fill my mind with positive thoughts of the future and where I wanted to be in five to ten years. Although it was hard for me to imagine my future, because I was in survival mode and I could only see what was right in front of me, I still tried. You already have enough on your plate while recovering from a severe traumatic brain injury, you don’t need anything else holding you back or being detrimental to your recovery. We are not given a good or bad life. We are given a life. We are only given one life so it is up to us to make the most of it. You have the power to make it good or bad.
I’m proud of every decision I have made so far in my own recovery and trust me I have had to make some VERY hard/tough decisions. I have had to cut some loved ones out of my life because they weren’t there for me and I have had to change my priorities. Cutting people out of my life or giving up on them is something I am not accustomed to doing. Because once I love you and let down my guard for you there isn’t anything on the planet I wouldn’t do for you. I give everyone the benefit of the doubt and countless chances or do overs but sometimes I just have to stop and realize nothing is going to change. No matter how many big life altering promises they give me, I have had to realize they are all empty. It never meant anything. But because I love them, it took EVERYTHING left inside me to walk away and realize I deserve better love and friendship.
The internal pain:
I hold so much pain inside myself. I have learned to grasp my anger and loneliness and hold it tightly in my chest. I have to keep it locked away so my PTSD “monster” won’t use it to lash out at others to “protect” me. But this pain that I have been holding for four years has transformed me. It could have changed me into a hardened shell of my former self but instead I have used it to become more empathetic. I have channeled it to become a better version of myself. I have experienced physical and emotional pain firsthand so now I can spot it in someone else. This is one of the reasons why I am now telling my story. I want others to know they aren’t alone. My pain has also made me more grateful. I am grateful for every second of the day because it is a second that I shouldn’t have. It sounds crazy but I am grateful for all of my physical, mental and emotional pain because it is my daily reminder that life is precious.
When it all becomes too much and my PTSD “monster” is on watch I shut off. Sometimes I need to leave the world behind and be alone with my thoughts. I have learned words aren’t always needed for finding myself. The clearest reflection is found when all sense of direction is lost, so I have left behind a past I have already learned my lessons from and left the maps that were a never ending circle of confusion. I am now coming back to life because I have seen my own reflection and I am proud of what I see. I see a beautifully broken woman who has gone to hell and back and who has put herself back together from nothing, piece by piece. I see a woman who risked her heart and had it shattered but has patched it back up and now stands much taller than before. I was born with my heart on my sleeve and a fire in my soul. In the beginning of recovery my fire was diminished to just a spark but it has gradually gotten bigger. Now it’s a wildfire ready to set ablaze anything I wish to conquer. I have the power within me to create, transform and nurture. I am not just a simple trickle of rain I am a hurricane.
The hardest first step I ever took, figuratively and literally, was my first step after the wreck. Having to blindly trust my body and trust that my hip and pelvis could withhold my body weight. When I first started walking I had what was called “my man swag”. I trusted that I could walk but it was still pretty painful so I wouldn’t put all my weight on my leg. This sort of gave me a “man swag”. Just to clarify I didn’t name my walk like this my father and another gave it that name and were relentless with their hilarious harassment 😃 You don’t realize when you are a full functioning “normal” adult how tedious of a process it is to relearn to walk. I mean my gosh just put one foot in front of the other right? Wrong.
Learning to walk:
I was relearning the process to walk with my body but I also had to get my brain on board and to keep up with the messages and signals it would give my body on what to do next. Gosh it was exhausting and it’s even harder trying to explain what it was like. The invisible battle in my mind is so frustrating during times like this because I am alone in it. I don’t know how to communicate about it very well or I simply can’t find the words in the blank space of my mind. One thing that has truly worked against me during my recovery is the fact that I am a hard headed strong individual. I will never let you see my struggle or me struggling. But I do struggle. I struggle everyday.
Thank goodness for my acting lessons and career when I was younger because I know how to act my way out of those awkward situations. The times when I will be in mid sentence and my brain will “fall” out of my head and I forget what I was talking about, I forget where I am and I can’t find any words to use. Only a very select few have seen me at my worst and seen my breakdowns. Only a few have seen the moments when I am broken down crying because I can’t find words to communicate and I want the flashbacks to stop. I have had to be very selective on who I let behind the curtain and who I can trust to see me at my worst. Generally it has turned out ok but I have been deeply hurt by some who got to look past the curtain to see the real me. This is hard for me to deal with and makes my PTSD worse. It’s extremely hard for me to understand how some people could see me at my worst and see me so vulnerable, yet they still have no problem hurting me. One day I will be able to make sense of it all but for now I trust no one and nothing.
This is detrimental to my recovery because it is another set back. I have to allow myself to be vulnerable because if I don’t then I am not truly addressing my problems. If I keep up my “strong hard headed” persona (which yes I naturally am all of that) then I keep away the help and support I desperately need. This whole process of recovery has been VERY humbling. I have had to rely on others for the simplest things. I think one of my most memorable moments is being in rehab and being in the shower in my wheelchair and having to allow my physical therapist to bathe me. For anyone who knows me I am extremely modest so this was huge for me. But in that moment of my first shower I had to surrender because I had absolutely no idea what to do or what was going on. Truly humbling experience. My life and well being was in the hands of strangers. I just had to blindly trust they were going to take care of me.
What could you lay down?
Although these experiences were extremely embarrassing and traumatic for me it was in these moments of extreme vulnerability that I was changed forever. I was changed in the best possible way because I had to lay down my pride and put my trust in others and their humanity. What would you be willing to lay down? Could you lay down your pride and put your trust in someone else to take care of you? I have learned that if you keep an open mind and you try your best to be as optimistic as you possibly can during your worst days, you will be able to get through anything. And what is even better than just getting through your worst days is that in your pit of hell you will be able to grow as a person. You will become stronger and you will gain new depths to your soul that otherwise you would have never been able to acquire.
I have gained a new sense of power during my recovery. I have had to strongly do things even when I was scared. I have learned how to look fear in the eye and say “What’s next?” As long as there is a beat in my heart and breathe in my lungs I will never give up because I now know there is more out there for me. There are opportunities awaiting me that I thought were out of the question but guess what? They aren’t. As long as I stay out of my own way I can achieve what I want and I’ve decided to take back my life.
One of the scariest thoughts for me is the thought of what happens now? Now that I am almost out of the pits of hell from my recovery, where do I go from here? How do I explain to the new people that come into my life my story or my issues? There is so much to explain about myself, will they be able to understand or will anyone still want to be around me once they find out? These thoughts terrify me because the one person who knew me better than I know myself had no problem leaving me, lying to me and betraying me. So why would anyone else want to stay? Once they experience my flashbacks, sensory issues, forgetfulness or my unfiltered anger will they still stand by my side or will they leave? Will anyone ever see the real me or will they always just see the girl with a severe traumatic brain injury? What path do I decide to take for my career? These are all questions I now have to start thinking about. Yes they are terrifying but they are also wonderful because I shouldn’t be alive. It is a miracle that I am still here. I should have died on June 11 but God decided that He wasn’t done with me here. Even so, the doctors never expected me to return back to this level of cognitive thinking but once again God intervened.
I think my biggest fear, as of today, is just that I will never fully be seen. Will anyone ever see the real me beneath my exterior and beneath the label of my injuries? Will anyone see that I actually do feel? That I am sensitive? I do have a soft side despite my tough exterior? I have been invisible for so long, that it would be nice to finally be seen. It would be nice for my opinion or voice to matter and be taken seriously. It would be nice to be respected as a person. I fear no one will ever take me seriously due to my brain injury and the fact that I am forgetful. I sometimes have the memory of a goldfish. Will I ever be enough?..
This may shock some who have only known the surface me from my past, but I do actually want kids. I would love to have my own family but now I don’t know if that is possible. Can I still have the dream future I have always wanted? I don’t know. My fear is with my PTSD and severe traumatic brain injury that it might be hard for me to be a parent now. Much less I don’t even know if someone could fully accept me and my issues to start a family with. Could somebody ever love someone so damaged and flawed? I don’t know. I once thought so but I was proven wrong. I am now open to new possibilities. I’m actually quite excited for the unknown in this area although it does terrify me.
The transformation process:
During my battle of recovery I have changed. Through my tragedy and brokenness I have been made whole. I am new person. I have a new outlook, new mindset and a new soul. I know I was kept here for a specific reason, and as of now I believe that reason is to help others heal by sharing my story and letting others who are struggling know they aren’t alone. They are not an outcast. But is that really my purpose or is there something else? Right now I plan on focusing on my passion of helping others. I want something good to come from my struggle. I now have a voice and I want to use it for good. I also want others to know just because they are at rock bottom they too still have a voice. Nobody or nothing has the right to take that from you. Everyone of us needs to know we matter. We are all here for a very specific purpose.
One thing I have learned and accepted on my journey is we all have moments when we feel like a lion, and we also all have moments when we feel like a mouse. But no matter how confident you feel or how scared you are, you still have a heartbeat and a soul. There is nothing anyone of us could do to make us unworthy of love. I know I have had my moments of feeling unlovable but HE showed me that HIS love is unconditional and we can all receive it. You have to learn how to roar, even when you feel small. Because you are so much more than your feelings. I have endured, I have known hardship and I have lost myself. But here I stand. From the beginning all the cards were stacked against me but I refused to bow down and give up. I chose to move forward headstrong. I will never forget the harsh life lessons I have learned along the way. They have made me stronger. Painful and unfair things happen to everyone. The difference is do you choose to dwell on it or learn from it. The choice is yours.
Why? Seriously why?! Why has all this happened? I know I’m not supposed to question God but I just need answers. I know I’m supposed to be a good little solider and keep marching on and not question His plan for me, but how much am I meant to go through. I have always been a good solider. I have kept my head down and followed the path He has given me without question but I’m growing tired. The feelings of uncertainty, emptiness and hopelessness are slowly taking over me. I could easily handle this storm if all it consisted of was physical pain. Nobody ever tells you or could accurately explain to you how much the mental and emotional pain starts to destroy your soul. I would gladly go through the wreck everyday for 10-20 years, if it would allow me to bypass the mental and emotional pain. Even if I was only able to bypass a little bit of that pain I would still gladly take the deal. Do you know what it’s like to feel as though you have been completely gutted like a fish? To be held hostage by a “stranger” that now controls your brain and body? Do you have any idea what it’s like to have to grieve for someone who is still alive? To wake up in a body that doesn’t welcome you? I do.
I’m tired of being constantly exhausted. No amount of sleep will be able to recharge me because my soul is what is truly worn out. I feel like I’m suffocating, like I can’t breathe and the world around me is caving in. I feel as though it would be so easy to give up now. Im sorry for even saying that. I know I’m supposed to remain strong but I miss myself. I miss Kaylen. I miss smiling. I miss being happy. I miss loving anything that isn’t sleep. I miss living and not just surviving another day. I wish I never would’ve woken up in this body. I wish I could’ve been swept away by death and not to have woken up in agonizing pain, and in a body and world I don’t know anymore. I wish I didn’t love so hard, I wish I could snap my fingers and change everything…
But seriously what good is it to wish and hope for things that are impossible and inconceivable. There is NO good in it. I have really had to dive deep into my soul and find out who I am and what I am made of. It has NOT been fun or easy but what in life is. I have realized no matter what happens or has happened I have to continue to trust and rely on my faith. Even if it is hard because my trust in the past has been shattered I know He won’t break His promises to me. Once again I must be patient. I will just have to allow everything to evolve in the time it needs. Thy will be done.. Right? I think it takes courage to endure the sharp pains of self discovery. It’s not an easy road to go down. It would’ve been much easier to take the path of dull pain of unconsciousness and let others define me and allow doctors to tell me what I could or couldn’t accomplish but I choose to be conscious in my life. I want to be in charge of myself and my accomplishments.
I will continue to move forward headstrong even when I am scared, I will just do it anyways. I’ve gotten good at that. I have had to learn to stop agreeing with the lies of the enemy and start fighting by believing in the promises of God. It’s not always easy because the devil is a tricky snake. He knows when you are weak and where to attack you, but if you remain headstrong in your faith (whatever that may be) then you will be good. It will still be hard as Hell but you will have your roots planted firmly in your faith and when that happens there is no reason to fear the wind. Just breathe. This journey of transformation and recovery won’t be easy but I promise it will be worth it.
Life would be quite tragic if I wasn’t able to find the humor in it. It’s funny how God works. He has my mother decide it would be “safer” to take our cars to the lake and not ride our bicycles over like we originally planned and well.. I think we can all agree that didn’t turn out so well. But, silver lining, I lived so now I can see the humor. God has had his hands very much in my life over the past few years and He has been testing me. I believe I past most of my tests right away but some he kept throwing at me again and again because I wasn’t seeing what He wanted me too. So unfortunately for me that meant he had to up the ante. The test I kept failing was I would blindly except the criticism and judgment of the one I loved most, the one I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with, and I wouldn’t speak up for myself because I thought he really loved me and had my best intentions at heart. I thought he wouldn’t be saying that stuff unless it was true. I let this person try to define me. A.) because I was so confused and lost as to what was really going on in my “new” life B.) because he had been there from the beginning, so he was a part of my “new” world. I trusted him and I attached to him. He had been apart of almost every memory I could remember since I got home. I didn’t know this life without him.. So why shouldn’t I have believed him? and C.) because I deep down believed what he was saying because I had already been left by friends. And family wasn’t supporting me or checking up on me.
So I figured I had to be the reason why all this happened and all the criticism must be true. But then one day I was told I was “weak & pathetic” and my boundaries were once again not respected. Because my “No” wasn’t respected the fractures in my hip and pelvis were broken again. After this day and the years that followed I finally passed my test. After being lied to repeatedly, continuously told how “weak and pathetic” I was and not being respected it finally just clicked. “What the hell am I doing? Why am I allowing this? “Look at what you have accomplished so far.. You relearned to speak, think, walk, swallow, dress, read, write, etc.. And not only that YOU survived the impossible.” On this day I promised myself I am DONE hiding. It is my time.
Stepping into the light:
Majority of my problems and stress have come from the fact I hid my smile, pretended everything was fine and lost my voice so I could keep things calm and ultimately I hid myself. I hid who I was and just functioned like a robot and did what I was told so I wasn’t met with ferocious anger. But I have decided I have silenced the song within me for long enough. Actually I didn’t make that choice for myself, my song started to emerge from my very skin. I denied myself so much that my world inside was a crumbling mess. I have stopped hiding and I can’t express how amazing it is. I am blown away as to how easy it has been to live after I made that promise to myself. Living has become natural again. Life is becoming joyful. The dark clouds of pain and misery are moving out and all I can see now is opportunity. Being ME is no longer a problem. If it ever starts to be a problem again I know how to walk away, I know what I deserve and I know I will survive. They didn’t teach me this stuff in rehab or the hospital when they were showing me how to live again. Real living is about unhiding.
My mission now is to find peace with exactly who and what I am. To take pride in my thoughts and flaws. To relearn how to love my appearance and not see only the flaws that have been pointed out to me. And to stop this incessant worrying that I can’t be loved as I am. I learned the reason nothing is “fixing me” is because I’m not broken. I have a unique way of doing things or thinking now but I am most definitely not broken. The first place we start to lose any battle is with our own thinking. If you think you’ve reached your limits then you have. If you think you will never get well then you won’t. You need to change your thinking. You need to see everything that is holding you back, every obstacle and every limitation as temporary. At some point you have to let go of what you thought would happen or what you were promised and you have to start living in what is happening now.
What is happening now for me is pieces are being orchestrated and put together for the future I have always wanted. It is truly breathtaking to watch as the pieces start to come together. Always keep a grateful heart because it is a magnet for miracles.. Trust me I can vouch for it. I have lightning in my heart and chaos in my bones as I continue to move forward on the hunt for who I have not yet become. There is no reset button in life. You can’t take anything back and you can’t undo anything. All of your actions have consequences. The things you say and do today will have a lasting impact on your life. You have to understand this so that way you will make the best decisions for yourself. You are all you have. If you don’t look out for yourself then nobody else will. Is this the life you want to live? Is this the person you want to love? Can you be happier? You decide.
“Your life will be different.” “You may never remember anything from your past.” “We can’t say when or if you will ever get back to functioning at a normal baseline for your age.” These are a few of the things I was told over and over again by my doctors. But nobody ever told me the toll my severe traumatic brain injury would have on my soul. The recovery process is the hardest thing you will ever go through. And that’s putting it nicely. The physical pain from my collapsed lung and the multiple breaks in my hip, pelvis, ribs, sternum, sacrum and shoulder are nothing compared to the pain of my severe traumatic brain injury. Imagine your head being crushed or squeezed while having razor blades jammed into your brain.. Well that’s how I feel 24/7. It’s a pain that will never go away. It’s something I have had to grow accustomed to. My doctors offered me time and time again to give me any medication I might want to ease the pain or allow me to sleep but I refused every time. The day I got home from Jim Thorpe rehabilitation I got off all of my medication. All my pain, sleep and anxiety medication were never taken again once I was home. I decided I was going to take my recovery head on and to do that I needed a clear mind that wasn’t doped up on medicine. This decision was not an ease one or pain free but I stuck with it. I am in no way suggesting or saying everyone should do this. I’m just explaining my course of action for my recovery.
To make a full recovery and address all the issues that needed to be taken care of, I have had to put my guard down. This is something I am not accustomed to at all. I am someone who never shows emotion and I always look composed. Even when I am falling apart inside. But to make a full recovery I had to put down my guard. By doing this I constantly feel like an exposed nerve. Completely exposed. This is a very unfamiliar and uncomfortable feeling for me. There have been some consequences to being fully exposed and vulnerable but I believe the final outcome has been well worth it. I have learned it is ok to show my soft side. I don’t always have to be on guard ready to protect myself. Not everything or everyone is out to hurt me, even though my PTSD and past would like to tell me otherwise. There are still amazing opportunities out there for me. And I believe this now more than ever because I have let go of the bondage that was holding me back and I am now fully embracing my new self. And guess what? I’ve learned I’m not half bad. For someone who was once categorized as “mentally unstable” I now know who I am. I know I AM strong. I know AM worthy. It’s a great feeling.
Everyone of us will go through something that we think we will never make it back from.. Injury, divorce, heartache or loss of a loved one. During these times when you feel hopeless quiet your mind and listen to your heart. We all are screaming inside because we are frightened but you have to make a choice. Do you want to give up or do you want to fight your way back to the top? It was during one of my flashbacks when I was reliving my experience in the trauma unit at OU medical and my heart was beating out of my chest about to explode that I made my choice. I decided I don’t want to die. So I fought back loud.
When you are dealing with an invisible injury you tend to become invisible as well. People don’t see your pain and can’t feel your struggle so they forget about you or they want to make you prove to them you are struggling. It’s hard for some people to understand that just because you can’t see the scars and bruises on my brain that they do actually exist. I am struggling to survive day to day and when I forget, make mistakes or my brain “falls” out of my head and stops working, that’s not me being stupid or weak.. That is my severe traumatic brain injury showing its ugly head. You are the unknown to them and the unknown tends to scare people. You tend to lose your voice. Well I did. I lost my voice during my recovery because I had completely lost myself. I had no idea who or what I was. I was an alien inside my own body. This takes a huge toll on your soul. I was confused about everything and just going through the motions. I was solely focused on my recovery. I only lived minute by minute. And during this process I forgot I had the right to have a voice. I forgot I had the right to speak up. I forgot that I could have my own opinion.
Now I have transformed. I have emerged from the cocoon I made for myself, to protect me while I was recovering. There are some who would probably like for me to step back into my cocoon, but I am ready to emerge. I have discovered I have wings and I am ready to use them in the second part of my life that’s awaiting me. There will always be parts of me that will remain messy, untamable and reckless.. But I refuse to apologize for it anymore. I have come to realize I am full of life again. I had once been drained of everything but now I’m back. I am too full of life to be half loved or to have a mediocre existence. I now have a voice.
I think I am slowly starting to unravel. I have tried to stay strong and hold it together for so long, but now the strings that have been holding me together are unraveling. My attention span is non existent. Memories and flashbacks keep whizzing by me like bullets. I am trapped. I am trapped in the prison inside my head. I can’t stop crying. No matter what I do I can’t stop my tear ducts from producing tears. I think my heart and soul are crying for me. I have disconnected from myself. I have tried to shut off my feelings and emotions because it is all TOO MUCH. How much can a human take? How much can a soul take? How many times can a heart be broken and still keep beating?
Feelings of uncertainty and emptiness are my constant companions. I think I am slowly going crazy. How do I escape this prison? How do I stop the flashbacks and memories? How do I simply stop loving those who have deeply hurt me? So many unanswered questions screaming in my head every minute of every day. I am so lost. Where do I go from here? The unfortunate answer is.. I don’t know. I am so tired of grieving. I have been grieving for four years. I have had to try to come to terms with the death of the old Kaylen since waking up at OU medical but really since the days at Jim Thorpe when I was told over and over everyday the HARSH truth which was my “new” reality. My “new” reality with this “stranger” that now resides in my body and my mind. The “stranger” that I have no control over. The “new” reality which consists of no memories from before June 11, 2012. My “new” reality of constantly feeling like a burden and invisible to the ones I love most. I AM STILL HERE!! I want to scream this at the top of my lungs. I WANT to be noticed. I want to be seen… Really seen. I want someone to look me in the eyes and see the agony that lives inside my body. I want someone to hold my hand and feel the pain that resides deep inside my bones. I want someone to place their hand on my chest where my heart is and feel the ache that is left there from those who have repeatedly broke my heart and left it in pieces.
The silent pain:
I am half agony and half hope. The worst type of pain is the silent pain. The silent crying while everyone is asleep or while you are taking a shower so no one can hear you. The pain where you just want to scream.. But you don’t. You must keep your composure and hold it together because you fear if you don’t you won’t be able to continue moving forward. You’re scared that if you truly allow yourself to feel that you won’t be able to pick yourself up off the floor because the emotional pain would be too much. I hate having to keep quiet. I hate being constantly torn between grace and violence. I hate holding my breath and biting my lip when I feel the tears coming. Its too much.. Its all too much.
If my teardrops could be collected and tell the story that lives inside me, the one I can’t tell yet because it is too painful, you would slowly start to get a sense of this prison I live in. I’m tired of answering “Nothing” when someone asks me what’s wrong. But when I try to find the words to express what is really wrong, I can’t find them. The right words vanish and turn to dust, so I’m left with the simple answer of “Nothing” I don’t know how to fix myself. I have tried so many different ways but I think the parts of me that truly need fixing are my heart and soul. But how can I fix that? How can I repair my tattered heart? How can I heal my soul when pieces of it have been taken or left behind so I can survive the day to day?
I hate the raging fire that gets triggered in my stomach when I start to feel sad. My sadness triggers so many unwanted memories and flashbacks that the only response or emotion I know how to give off is anger. Because honestly a lot of my sadness is really just me being extremely hurt. I have been damaged by those I love most. I have been abandoned, rejected, betrayed, and lied to by the ones who said they would always be there for me or the ones who have the same blood as me running through their veins. It’s embarrassing to admit but I can’t remember the last time I felt good about myself.. Or even liked myself.
But I have learned how to survive. I AM a survivor. I could have easily given up years ago but I haven’t. I have learned sometimes you have to have your world ripped out from under you so you can see everything with a new perspective. Sometimes you must fall so you can learn to fly. The Lord says do not be afraid for I am always with you. Don’t be discouraged because this fight is not for you to fight alone. I have learned first hand that God is greater than the obstacles I have had to face here on earth. Over the past four years I have been trying to fill my mind with Gods words so there will be no room for Satan’s lies. But the devil is a tricky one, he knows exactly when and where to attack. But I am holding on to hope because I know He is forever faithful. I know there is a reason for everything that has happened and I am slowly starting to see His plan for me unfold. I am starting to see Him mold me and show me daily the areas I need to improve upon. The pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them. He blesses and protects everyone who runs to Him. Sometimes the most difficult time in your life may be the border to your promised land.
One of the most frustrating things that I have had to do during my recovery is trying to sift through memories. Going back to the beginning and trying to get all the memories I still retain and put them in chronological order. Then once I do that try to remember if these memories were real or were they apart of my many hallucinations. There are some “memories” that I’m fairly certain were hallucinations.. One was that a nurse was harvesting my blood. But I do remember telling my mother that and to find me another nurse because I wasn’t going to allow him to touch me again. But then there are some “memories” that I’m just not sure about.. I have a few from the time I was in OU that I was being touched inappropriately by nurses and then I have some from Jim Thorpe that are along the same line. What is so frustrating about all of this is who is to say what’s true and what’s not? Clearly I wasn’t in the right mental space so these could be hallucinations but what if they aren’t?.. I don’t know. It’s just an incredibly hard process trying to remember and keep everything in order. So much has happened.
There is one thing I know for certain though, no matter what has happened to me during my recovery I will not become bitter. I don’t have that right. I will not let the actions or inaction of people make me cold inside. No body can have that power over me. Although it would be quite easy to forfeit my power and play a pity party I do not have that right. That would be a slap in the face to every person who has stood by me on my road to recovery and it would be a huge slap in the face to God. He could have easily let me die five times but for some reason, that only he knows, he didn’t. He gave me the strength to fight and hold on. He gave me life. We’re all human. We break and we make mistakes but we can’t let our pain or sadness change us. It takes true strength to cry your eyes out and then once you are done pick yourself up off the floor and continue on like nothing ever happened. Don’t let anyone tell you crying is a sign of weakness because it is not. It is a cleansing process for our soul. We all need to cry and push our reset buttons so we can keep going.
There have been many moments were I have felt like giving up but I didn’t. I have struggled and fought through so much that it would be a dis justice to myself to let the struggle of relearning how to walk or learning how to think again stop me. The things that show your weak side will eventually show your strengths if you just push through and stay persistent. Life is all about taking the curve balls life throws at us and learning from them. Life isn’t about avoiding pain. It is about showing up and taking it on headstrong. It’s about getting the scars to prove that you weren’t scared. You were fearless. It takes a strong soul to endure the pain of life and to not get stuck in the pit of misery. It takes a resilient soul to claw their way out of the darkness and back into the light were your nightmares can turn into dreams. Where nothing can stop you if you don’t allow it.
Remember it’s all in your mind. You hold the power. I have suffered some losses I thought I would never come back from. One of the biggest happened in the beginning when I woke up and realized the old me was gone and I didn’t get to say goodbye. The old Kaylen took everything with her, all the memories and life lessons. I was left to start over with nothing and turns out it was the best thing to have ever happened to me. Never forget you hold the power. You have within you all the strength you need it’s just up to you to decide if you are mentally tough enough to take on the challenges before you. Hard times are often blessings in disguise. They are put before you to lead you down the path God has intended for you. Let go and let God take control. He knows where you are meant to be. Learn everything you can from your hard times. Knowledge gives you power. But never forsake your morals and values when you are going through hard times because knowledge may give you power but your character will get you respect. Stay humble and you will scare people because you are whole all by yourself.
After everything I have survived and been through I can finally say I am self-propelled. I am fueled from within. I am fueled with all the opportunities that lie before me now. I can finally live my life for myself and for the purpose of fulfilling my passion and finding my happiness. I don’t have to live my days going from one therapy to the next or from Doctor to Doctor anymore. I have learned to appreciate people’s opinions but to not get attached to them. Not everyone is going to understand me or like the “new” me and for the first time I believe I am perfectly ok with that. I’m ok with that because I have fallen in love with the person I have become. I was broken down to nothing after my wreck and I was left shattered after my heartbreak and betrayal. Although I didn’t know this at the time, this was one of my many blessings in disguise. I was able to put myself back together piece by piece. And this time I put myself back together differently so that way I can be the woman He needs me to be to fulfill my purpose for this life. I have finally learned that if I give people more respect and loyalty than they deserve, I give them the power to starve my soul. I have spent too much time on others and their wants and needs, it is now my time to replenish my soul and find my happiness.
It was hard to wake up in this “new” world after my coma but I am so glad I did and that I am finally going through my last awakening. I am now fully seeing the world again. Even though my heart was tattered and torn to pieces by the choice I made to trust and remain loyal to the one I thought would never hurt me, I am so proud of my mistake now. Because if I wouldn’t have made this mistake then that means I would’ve never tried. I also wouldn’t have learned what true love is and what it isn’t. It is always better to try and fail than to play it safe and sit on the sidelines… But that’s my opinion.
Becoming a survivor:
Many people could describe me as damaged now after everything I have been through and that is ok. At one point in time, I too, would’ve described myself as damaged but not anymore. I am a survivor. I have seen hell and I have fought my way back. I now know more than ever that most of the “damaged” people we see today were once kind and compassionate people but they unfortunately came across tough situations. People who have been through hell and who have come out on the other side, know that everyone can fall. But it is up to them to decide whether or not to rise again. I chose to rise.
Although I am left dealing with my body always tensing up because I’m ready to fight off any sudden storm that might try to engulf me, I am out of the hell of recovery. I have to keep an eye open while I sleep and I have to prepare myself for the flashbacks and night terrors but I am out of the pits of misery I was once stuck in during my recovery. My PTSD and severe traumatic brain injury are now apart of me and my identity BUT they do not define me. I am so much more than being defined by those two labels.
I believe God uses broken people to help heal and rescue others. Sometimes it takes the eyes of one who has struggled to see the brokenness and struggles in someone else. Because I know firsthand I try my best to hide my pain and you can only see it if you really look me in the eye. I believe this is how everyone is who is truly struggling with something because they are trying to remain strong and fix themselves. But sometimes it takes the helping hand of someone else to start the healing process. When you feel you don’t have the strength to continue remember, it doesn’t take a fiery flame that everyone can see to continue on. Sometimes it just takes a tiny spark inside you that whispers “keep fighting.” We weren’t created to be depressed, defeated, heartbroken, ashamed, unworthy or guilty. We were created to be victorious in His name.