One of the hardest things to do is openly admit you are struggling. Next month it will be nine years since my wreck & I still struggle every day. It’s honestly terrifying just writing that out. It’s easier for me to remain in denial & lie to myself than to speak my truth. I have a bad habit of shutting off my feelings when it becomes too much. I’ve learned it’s a defense mechanism but it also keeps me numb. At the beginning of my recovery I preferred being numb than to actually feel what I had/was experiencing & honestly even now it’s preferable to be numb than feel. I used to never understand the expression dying from a broken heart or having a hole in your heart, but unfortunately I understand now.
In the beginning of my recovery from a traumatic brain injury I was still in my walking coma & was basically being shuffled around from one therapy to the next & if I wasn’t in therapy then I was sleeping. It wasn’t until probably 3-5 years ago that I actually started to fully wake up & truly understand what had happened to me, what my life was like presently & how my future would be altered from the one I had pictured. In the beginning I was in such a foggy childlike mindset that I didn’t have the brain power to evaluate & deal with my feelings. My “new” self/brain wasn’t mature enough to work through anything yet. But then about 3-5 years ago when I started to fully wake up my heart, body & mind demanded that I start dealing with my feelings/emotions. This is around the time when I started to see my neuropsychologist & she helped me talk situations out & she helped me be more vulnerable in speaking my truth so I could get a handle on my unresolved emotions.
It’s now a month away from being nine years since my wreck & I am still struggling. I’m still having to battle my instincts to just deny my feelings & move forward. I am still having to battle with grasping my life & how it is so much different than I could have ever imagined for myself. I am still nursing my broken heart & trying to patch the holes that have yet to heal.
As I am writing this I am overwhelmed with a sense of embarrassment & shame. Thinking to myself “No don’t write this. People will read this. They might see you differently. Etc.” But these thoughts are the exact reason why I feel I need to speak my truth. So many of us are struggling every single day but we fear that if we speak life to our struggles people might view us differently, think less of us or avoid us because they don’t know what to do or say now they know how we are really feeling. If I’m honest with myself I know that if someone told me they were struggling & bared their soul to me that is not the reaction I would have. I would open my arms & heart to them. And I think a lot of people can relate to that. We forget that there are others out there just like us who know what it means to struggle, who know what it means to fight invisible battles every day. We forget we are not alone in our fights. If you are currently struggling I hope today you can be honest with yourself & speak your truth without fear. No matter what you are battling you are not alone.
“Just accept it & move on.” “To move on & be happy you have to accept your situation.” “Just accept the new you.” It’s easy to talk about acceptance but in practice it is actually quite hard. I had to accept my “new” self after my wreck. I had to accept that my brain & body were not going to function like the “old” Kaylen. That was hard to accept especially when I come from a background of athletics & perfectionism. I used to believe that if you worked hard enough & practiced you could change or fix your physical/mental abilities. I was so very wrong. There is no “oh well if you would’ve just worked harder in rehab & outpatient therapy you would be back to the “old” you by now.” I did work hard. I did put in the effort. I did change some of my abilities but I will never be back to the “old” me. This I have accepted. I have embraced my “new” body & brain. I have made peace with it. Surprisingly this was one of the easier things for me to accept on my road to recovery from a traumatic brain injury. I personally think it’s because I had some control in this. I could control my work ethic. I could control the effort I gave in therapy. It’s the stuff I have no control over that is the hardest for me to accept. How do you accept something when there has yet to be any accountability taken? How do you accept loved ones leaving your life with no explanation? How do you accept unanswered questions? I honestly don’t know. My neuropsychologist has worked with me on this & has tried to help me get to a point of acceptance but I’m still not there yet. I could lie & say I’ve accepted these things because they don’t hurt me anymore but that’s just not true. They don’t hurt me because I have built up a wall to protect myself. I don’t allow myself to engage with those thoughts or feelings. A defense mechanism.
It’ll be nine years this June since my wreck. I have come a long way mentally & physically since then. I am beyond grateful just to be here still but I know I still have unresolved feelings/trauma to deal with. It’s hard to admit that & to even accept that because of how far I have come. It would be much easier to turn a blind eye to the unresolved feelings/trauma I still know I have than to actually deal with it. But what kind of life would that lead to if I never fully healed? It would lead to an unfulfilled life. An unfulfilled being. One thing I know for certain after all these years is that if you want to be happy & have true joy, you must live an authentic life. You have to embrace your true authentic self. This has always been my end goal. From my very first appointment with my neuropsychologist I said “I want to heal. I want to deal with my trauma so that one day, years from now, when someone looks me in the eye they won’t see a shell of a person & wonder “what happened to them?” I want them to just see me.”
Carl Jung said “The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.” I believe this to be true but I also believe it is terrifying to accept situations that you have no say in or control over. That you can’t fix or change. You just have to accept it unresolved. I know lots of us have a hard time accepting & moving on from things in life. No matter how small or large they may be it is still a challenge to accept & move forward. It takes courage. But just know that you will gain strength, confidence & a new perspective during this process. I hope today can be the day you realize you are worth it to move forward & become one step closer to a fulfilled life. What seems overwhelming now will be your testimony later.