The Anniversary

As the 10th anniversary of my wreck approaches you would think or at least I would’ve thought it wouldn’t affect me as much, well I was wrong. When the first day of June arrives, I automatically start to count down the days to the 11th. I think about what I was told I had been doing at the end of May & beginning of June. Graduating college & being accepted into graduate school the Friday before my wreck Monday morning. I then start to reflect on the past 10 years, at least what I can remember. I always go back to my time at Jim Thorpe or at least the stories I remember of my time at Jim Thorpe. All my therapies, having to have the nurses bathe & dress me, trying to learn how to write & eat again, aquatic therapy, & the story about the best cheeseburger that I only ate half of so my father & brother could try it because it was THAT good. Stories like that remind me of the good moments of my recovery.

But then the flashbacks start coming. Flashbacks of the pain. The confusion. The heartbreak. I am overwhelmed with a deep sadness & a sinking feeling in my chest where my heart should be.

After a few years with my neuropsychologist, she had me read a book called The Body Keeps the Score, & it talks about how the body remembers the trauma. It remembers every sensation, every sound, every pain. This book couldn’t be more accurate. As the 11th approaches my body/emotions aren’t my own. Since my wreck, I’ve suffered with bad anxiety & especially night time anxiety. Night time has always been hard for me in my recovery because it brings back a lot of pain. In the beginning of my recovery I was photophobic. I couldn’t handle any light so in the hospital it was always pitch black. At Jim Thorpe my lights were kept off, & when I was finally home, my family kept the lights dim or off for me. During this time period, I also wasn’t able to sleep, so I spent a lot of late nights & early mornings alone, scared, & confused in darkness. These memories/experiences were not the best, so now I have an aversion to darkness. To my body it represents sadness & pain. As the 11th approaches night times are even harder. Especially as the 10 year anniversary approaches. 10 years that feel as if it’s been a lifetime but also feel as if it’s only been 2 years. As I am becoming healthier mentally & able to have a healthy/recovered perspective of the last 10 years, I am moved to tears. Tears that represent all the pain, what ifs, whys, & unanswered questions. It’s only when my anniversary comes around that I feel the sadness I have been hiding, denying, & burying deep down within myself, so I don’t have to deal with it but my body remembers.

I know my story is unique to me, but I also know that everyone has felt this type of aching sadness. The sadness that consumes you. As I’ve worked & continue to work through this sadness, I have learned many lessons & gained much wisdom on life, love, & the journey to happiness. I know that if I keep taking my babies steps, I will find the joy, happiness, & love I have been praying for, working for. If like me you are currently navigating through sadness of your own, please know you are not alone. No matter how hard or impossible it feels right now in thinking of overcoming it, know you can, & you will one baby step at a time. Believe in your infinite potential.

The Art of Letting Go

“Just let go.” That’s something I have been told quite a bit on my path to recovery from a traumatic brain injury. From what I can remember about the beginning of my recovery is that everything was out of my control. I needed to be watched while I ate to make sure I was swallowing properly. If I wanted to get out of the house, I had to wait on my mother or see if she could fit a drive with me into her schedule because I couldn’t drive. My own body was foreign to me. I couldn’t maneuver the way I wanted.

Once I woke up from my walking coma everything that I could control I “tried” to. I felt like I needed to know everything about any situation I may enter & if I’m being honest that still remains to an extent. Needed to know everything so I could have a false sense of control but also because of my PTSD. I didn’t want to be caught off by anything. Unfortunately this whole “control” thing only progressed more & more throughout the years of my recovery & took a sharp turn for the worse when I couldn’t make sense of why things had happened the way they had. My wreck. The abusive controlling relationship. The unanswered questions from family & friends on why they weren’t there when they knew I was struggling. I tried to “fix” my problems & be the person I thought I “needed” to be to make things go better for me. To get the answers my heart desperately needed.

The only thing I could control during this time was food, my appearance, & my fun. I didn’t think I was worth anything. I didn’t think I “deserved” to have fun or to have any enjoyment. I was consumed with hurt, shame, & the false narrative of myself that was put there by my abuser. So during this time I lost a lot of weight. I tried to perfect my appearance & personality thinking this would bring me happiness. It would bring me answers. It would bring closure. Well, I was wrong. It only brought me close to death & confusion. I was deeply confused about why my “fixing” wasn’t solving anything. I was following the false narrative put in my head by my abuser. I was working on becoming the woman I was told I need to be/look like to be “good.” It took years with my neuropsychologist before she was able to start to break through that false narrative in my head & get me to believe this “control”thing was just an illusion and that if I didn’t just let go, I would kill myself.

I’m now years past this time. I’m at a healthy weight, & I have ejected that false narrative. Today I feel as close as I ever have been to truly letting go. With that being said unfortunately parts of that false narrative remain. I’m now able to identify those thoughts & eject them, but the feeling of shame that is brought on with those thoughts still remains. My neuropsychologist has helped me see the big picture when working through my shame. Helped me to stop taking my anger from feeling this way out on myself. I’ve learned that the walk towards recovery is a step by step process. I’ve learned it is a long walk & that if you want to truly experience joy & happiness again, you must take the long path. I’m now towards the end of the path, & I am the happiest I have been in years. I don’t know if there are any who identify with this “control” concept & taking your destructive anger out on yourself. I do know that a majority of us struggle with the feeling of belonging or being “good” enough. I do know we all want to be accepted for just as we are. Today is the day to realize you were made for more & allow yourself to believe you deserve to experience the joy of life because you do, we all do.