I’ll never forget the first time I saw myself in the mirror at Jim Thorpe rehabilitation. I was being taught how to brush my hair on this day. So my nurse wheeled me over to my dresser, so I could look into the big mirror. Once she positioned me in front of it, I looked up and saw myself. This was the first time I got to see the “stranger”. I already felt like an alien inside my own body but I hadn’t yet seen myself. I remember just staring and the person in the mirror stared back.
Seeing the “new” me:
My nurse then proceeded to show me how to brush my hair. Well this was a joke in itself because I used the back side of the brush instead of the bristles so she corrected me. The entire time I was completely focused on the image in the mirror. It was mimicking me and my movements but it wasn’t me. Who was this person staring back at me? Why can’t I see myself? These questions were screaming in my head. But I still had to focus and listen to my nurses instructions on how to use the bristle side of the brush to brush my hair. “Go slowly” she said “Don’t yank the brush or you will pull your hair out.” I did not understand this concept of using the brush to brush my hair. What was the point? I could only focus on the mirror. I kept staring into the eyes of the person in the mirror. I could tell they were watching me and following all my movements. Seriously what is going on? Am I hallucinating? Is that really me in the mirror? I thought I looked different. Well I did look different. I was now being seen by the eyes of the “stranger”. The one who now controls my brain, thoughts and body. The one who now uses my body as a host. The one who took over after my severe traumatic brain injury.
To this day I can stand in front of the mirror and look at myself but I still don’t see Kaylen. I’m now starting to see glimpses of her looking back at me but the “stranger” is still in control, for now. Ever since I woke up from my coma I have had to decipher between what is real and what is fake. This was very hard for me to do in the beginning but once I got home from Jim Thorpe, and I started to gradually wake up more and more from my walking coma I could tell that my hallucinations were not real. I wasn’t really being followed by a hunched back man and nobody was after me. It is much easier to pick out the fake stuff than the real. This is where some of my rage comes from.
Sometimes I feel so lost and confused that it triggers me and my repressed memories from the wreck. I then start to feel my blood boil and the fire within me is lit. My brain starts to shut down then everything goes black. I am perpetually torn between grace and violence. I hate the quiet rage that is inside me. I hate the fact that it is always close to the surface. Thankfully I am naturally a composed person and a gentle soul. This is the only thing I think that counteracts my unfiltered anger now. It’s maddening to think because of someone’s neglectful actions, my life was changed in a matter of seconds.
Embracing the new “normal”:
I have now embraced my new normal but it has been difficult to get to this point. Life is a series of tiny miracles, open your heart and mind, take notice. A grateful heart is a magnet for miracles and it will unlock the fullness of life. Gratitude turns what you have into enough. It can turn denial into acceptance and chaos into order. Never take a moment for granted. Realize how blessed you are with the things you have and realize you already have everything you need inside of you.