Hungry for answers I need to know the truth. Why did this happen? Could I have prevented it? Is this karma? Is death going to come back again? Some of the questions I would ask myself over and over. I was for sure that since I beat death five times that it would come back to claim me. He would come back to fix the mistake. To try to understand my thought process during this time is like trying to understand a different world. I have a madness that lives inside me now. It continuously searches for answers. It goes through all the Hows and Whys. Why did the wreck happen? How can I not remember anything? How will I have a future like this? How will I ever be able to move forward and achieve the “perfect” picture I had painted in my mind for my own family and future?
I’ve learned a lot these past four years. I’ve learned things don’t always work out the way you plan or you think they are going to. I’ve also learned that sometimes things go wrong or get broken that can’t be fixed and you have to be okay with it. You have to pick up the pieces and keep moving forward. And sometimes you have to break your own heart and walk away from things you once thought you couldn’t live without because you finally realize you deserve better. You have to learn to live in the new normal. You have to live for today because you now know that tomorrow isn’t promised. Goodbyes hurt when you know the story wasn’t finished. I wasn’t finished but God had different plans for my story. Having to wake up feeling like an Alien in my own body and not recognizing myself when I looked in the mirror or at photos was definitely the hardest goodbye & most frightening hello. I had to say hello to my new life and body and grieve the girl I used to be. Losing my memories and having no choice in the matter was a hard pill to swallow. It’s difficult to accept when things are taken from you and you have no say in the matter. You can’t have a do over. There is no reset button. I will always try to fill the void in my mind. I will continuously search for the lost memories. I will try my best to fill the emptiness that has been left inside my heart and mind. But I can now see the sun even on my darkest days and I have found the magic that has been hidden in this new beginning.
I learned to not try to make sense of my madness or the new structure of chaos that lived inside my mind. I’m learning to love the new me and to accept what is. I’ve had to learn to celebrate, compliment and encourage myself on my road to recovery. I had to face the harsh reality and realize it’s all up to me. Encouragement comes from the inside. Happiness comes from the inside. Happiness is the way you are and how you think. You have to make the choice to be happy. To think positively about yourself and your future. I thought like many others that I needed to find my happiness but really all I had to do was find the real me. I’m slowly learning more about myself day by day. The things I thought would kill me haven’t and the people I thought would be with me forever aren’t so I have had to reevaluate. I’ve realized I’m an odd combination of really sweet and don’t mess with me. I have also realized I deserve the best for myself and with that piece of knowledge I won’t stop till I achieve what I was meant to achieve.
Believe in yourself:
I was given this journey for a reason. I was meant to hit rock bottom to find and reclaim my true self. Courage doesn’t mean you aren’t afraid it means you have looked fear in the face and decided to move ahead anyways. It means you didn’t let fear stop you. There’s been plenty of times I wanted to curl into a ball and cry because the flashbacks/memories are like bullets that tear me apart and leave me in pieces. But I patched my wounds up and kept going. The world will move on regardless of you. The sun will rise and set regardless of your struggles and hardships. Learn to believe you are good enough, smart enough, beautiful enough and most importantly you ARE strong enough to defeat whatever it is you are battling. It will be hard at first to believe this of yourself because I’ve been working four years on it and I still don’t fully believe it BUT you must fake it until you finally believe it. If your story is anything like mine it hasn’t been calm its been quite chaotic and that’s the true beauty of it. For that chaos has revealed the true depth of my soul. You are made up of the stories within you. Now it’s time to reread them and discover the quiet depth in you.
Everything happens for a reason. There is no such thing as a coincidence. God has had His hands heavily involved in your life before you were even born. There is a reason He has put you through your struggles and hardships, there is a much deeper purpose. In John 9, Jesus was asked by His disciples “why the man on the street was blind, what caused his blindness?” Jesus answered “You are asking the wrong question. You are looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do.” Jesus healed the mans blindness by putting mud on his eyes and telling him to wash in the pool of Siloam. From the text we can infer the reason the man was born blind was so that God could be glorified. The same can be said for whatever struggle or hardship you are dealing with right now. I know that is why I went through my wreck and hardships. God has used my severe traumatic brain injury to reset or restart me.
He took me back to the beginning where I had to relearn everything, so I could be shown once again the power He has. I was taken back to literally the beginning when I didn’t have words, language or any understanding of what was happening around me. Words.. What are they? Language what the heck is that? Simple questions I didn’t know the answers too. Holidays.. What are those? How do you put clothes on? How do you brush your hair or teeth? All very complicated questions and tasks for me in the beginning. Have you ever had to go back to the beginning and restart something, maybe a work project or a paper because your computer crashed? Well it’s a very frustrating process. I believe that sometimes in life we have to have our world ripped out from under our feet and we have to hit rock bottom because there is something down there we are supposed to find. For me I’m still not sure exactly what I was meant to find but I know I have found and reclaimed my inner strength and my faith.
Two things define you in life. Your patience when you have nothing and your attitude when you have everything. I believe I have a new set of skills when it comes to patience because I have had to rebuild myself from the ground up. Relearning what clothes are, what language is, how to walk, how to swallow, how to talk & how to trust that God will get me through. It all begins and ends in your mind. If you don’t want to conquer whatever obstacle is in front of you then you won’t. I was determined to conquer so I gave power to the thoughts in my mind that told me “You can & You will.” To trust God in the light is nothing. Learn to put all your trust in him when you are in the dark. When you have nothing He will give you everything.
He has been with me from day one. Even when I thought I didn’t have the strength to continue He showed me where to look within myself to find it. He also taught me not to question His plan for me. I have thought many times my life was over. My heart has been shattered and my trust has been severely broken but even when I laid in bed crying He was always by my side, holding me and telling me “Everything will be ok. You just have to stay committed and keep moving forward. There are great things awaiting you.”
I believe the reason for my wreck and everything that followed after, was to show the power of God and to glorify Him. He brought me back to life five times and He restored me. There is a greater purpose for me now. I believe His purpose for me is to use me to speak of His amazing grace & love. He wants me to be courageous in telling my story, and wants me to help others who are or have also struggled see there is light at the end of the tunnel. Just like Corrie ten Boom said “When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.” God has a purpose for your pain, a reason for your struggle and a reward for your faithfulness. Trust Him and don’t give up.. There are great things awaiting you, once you get through your storm.
There are a few things you need to understand about me.. I am damaged. I get triggered easily. I have struggled and still continue to struggle. There are nights when I curl up into a ball and won’t talk to anyone..I just cry. Sometimes it takes all my energy just to get in bed before I completely lose it. It’s hard holding yourself together and to continue to hold yourself together after countless heartbreaks and failures. Once I woke up from my coma I was a “new” person. Those who were there and who came into my life in the beginning became apart of my “new” world. These people were so much more to me than friends or acquaintances, they were my everything. It was like I was a baby animal and these people were my “mother” and when they came into my life I was “seeing” them for the first time and attaching to them. My world feels and felt empty without them. So once I learned, years later, the true character and intentions of some of these important people my world collapsed. I was left once again putting myself together with the tattered torn up pieces of myself. Left to relearn life again in another “new” world without them. Alone. I will shut you out and I won’t be able to trust you for awhile, because almost everyone who has promised they were going to be there for me has left, cheated, lied, berated me for my injuries and told me the world would be better if I would have died in the intersection of my wreck. Trust me I hate my “new” barely working brain and I hate the fact I have these issues just as much as anyone else. But trust me there IS a reason I survived.
You may see the smile I put on my face but don’t always believe that I am happy inside. I rarely show my true emotions. I’m like an iceberg, I will only show you a little and you will never see or have any idea how much I’m keeping in and holding back. My mind is like a tiny trap-box full of explosives now. The “monster” within is playing and taunting me with a lit match 24/7. This is why I must stay calm. I can’t aggravate any of my triggers or “BOOM” the flashbacks flood back, I have to retreat to the bomb shelter in my mind and the monster takes over to protect me. This is a scary experience. It has become all too normal now. I can stay locked up in my mind for 10-15mins or it could take hours. I never know how long it’ll last. The flashbacks love to haunt me and keep me locked away. They badger me, make me relive every pain (physical, emotional & mental) and they are relentless.
State of dread:
I tend to just go through the motions, very cautious of my actions and surroundings. Sometimes I sense something bad about to happen so I immediately disconnect to avoid lashing out. It’s like I’m there but I’m really not. I’m actually a million miles away and I’m just watching my poor body go through the motions with a brave smile. I hate this. I’m constantly wishing time will pass by quickly so I can avoid this or I can reconnect. I’m always so tense. I can never relax because I have a sense of dread ingrained in my bones. I’m constantly on my toes ready for the attack. I honestly don’t think I know how to relax anymore. I sort of can when I’m with people I trust but then that has slowly gotten shot to Hell with the betrayals I have experienced. So therefore I’m left with no other choice than to look within myself for the strength to keep going and to continue to fight everyday. But one day I realized God has been standing with me all this time giving me His strength. I have never and will never be on my own. He has helped me loosen my grip on trying to maintain control. I am giving everything to Him. I know if He has brought me to this point He will bring me through the rest.
There is nothing outside of yourself that can ever enable you to get better, get stronger, quicker or smarter. It all comes from within you. And the great thing is all of that already exists right now. You just have to tap into it. Once you’ve come to the end of your rope you have two options: let go and give up or tie a knot and fight like hell to hold on. I’ve chosen to fight like hell. It definitely hasn’t been an easy ride but I know it will be worth it eventually I just have to make it through my storm. I’ve learned that feeling unsure and lost is a part of the path He has made for me. I’m not going to avoid these feelings anymore. I’m going to embrace them and see what they are trying to teach me then use those lessons to better myself and help others. Someone who has been spoon fed their entire life and hasn’t had to fight for anything will never fully appreciate life and all the joys that come with it. I get excited over the simplest things. Honestly the simple things are what mean the most to me. Keep it simple in your life. Look for the beauty in everything not the flaws. Change your perspective about whatever situation you are currently in and I promise it will change your life and you will start seeing positive things come your way.
What is there to live for? Why should I keep going? When will this aching pain leave my heart and mind? Why must I keep climbing mountains? When will I get a free pass? These are some of the questions I have been dealing with lately. I am so overwhelmed with everything I still need to conquer and overcome. I have such a hard time deciding which battle to suit up for first. They all coincide and feed off each other so it seems like a never ending battle. I’m exhausted. I’m tired of fighting for everything in my life. I’m tired of relearning and learning how to deal and live without certain things that I thought were permanent. I’m tired of being so confused and lost. I am worth something.. Right? Don’t I deserve love, respect, support, friendship and to be told the truth? Did my wreck and injuries really change my worth? Am I unworthy now?
I have no idea anymore. I try to tell myself, “Yes, you are worthy. You are a child of God and you have already survived SO much. One day it will become easier. It just has too.” But after awhile I start to question myself. Once your life and the dream you have been promised is shattered right in front of you.. Well things change. It made me start to question everything but then God decided it’s time to intervene and He spoke to me. He showed me what I was going to do with my life, how I was going to help others and how the dream I had been promised for my future still was going to happen.. Just now it involved someone else.
With a brave heart anything is possible. Happiness is a choice and it is something I have found and chosen. Nothing will make you happy until you choose to be happy. Life is full of choices, make sure you choose the right ones. Your happiness won’t come to you, it will only come from you. My new mission for life is too not merely survive but to thrive. I am choosing to navigate through my life full of passion, compassion and a good sense of humor. I’ve come to realize that in life people will hurt you, you’ll cry, you’ll laugh, you’ll embarrass yourself and you will have to fight for what you want. But then, you’ll find your very own moment where none of what you have been through matters. You will take a step back and realize adversity happens to those who are tough enough to handle it. You then realize that you are one of those tough people who can handle any obstacle that is put in front of you. When God’s warriors go down on their knees, the battle is not over. It has just begun.
Imagine waking up and having no idea where you are. People are talking to you and acting like they know you but you have no idea who they are. You finally realize you are in a hospital and you can’t move. Then it goes black. When you wake up you realize you are tied to your bed and once again can’t move. You are screaming for someone to take the razor blades out of your head but no one listens. You pull the tubes out of your nose and mouth. Why is it so painful and hard to breath? Then it goes black again. Next you wake up submerged in ice. You are freezing but no one will help you get out they just keep saying this is to help you stay alive. If you get out you will die. Darkness comes again but this time you don’t wake up you just feel yourself weaken and you feel yourself slipping. You hear screaming and beeping but you are being pulled down into the dark. You feel someone grab your hand and tell you everything is going to be ok. You recognize the voice telling you “Don’t go. You have to stay strong! Don’t GO!” Your heart is beating so hard and fast it feels like it’s going to explode. Everything is spinning. You struggle to stay but the darkness has a strong hold on you. You know you HAVE to keep fighting. Black.
You wake up in a completely different room and people are in your face asking you all kinds of questions. “Do you know where you are? How old are you? What month is it? Does this hurt?..etc” You can’t answer any of the questions you just search the room for a familiar face. Finally you find one and try to ask where you are and what happened but you can’t find words. You realize you have no language. You are terrified. You have some thoughts but they are jumbled and unclear. Is this a nightmare? Is this really happening? Finally you are told what happened you feel like your world has been ripped apart. You try to ask questions… About injuries, pain, why you’re tied down, about the bruises & gashes on your arms, etc. This is all too much to process. This is WAY too much. What the heck happened? This can’t be real. Then you forget everything. Black.
You have to answer the same questions everyday for months. “What happened to you? What are your injuries? What’s your name? How old are you? What month is it? Where are you?” I had to do this as part of therapy and to get my brain to recognize and hold on to the information as to what happened to me. This time was horrible. I would never wish that agony on anyone. The confusion, and pain was unimaginable. I was simply lost. I was stuck in a madhouse that I could not escape because it was inside my head. I lost myself somewhere in the darkness. I am alone here. I’m alone in my mind. I’m stuck with no maps and there is no road leading me out. There are no words to truly express this time because of what I have forgotten, it’s too painful to tap into that memory and there is simply too much to explain so that you would understand. Monsters for me don’t sleep under my bed, they sleep beneath my skin and they attack me with flashbacks. They replay the feeling of almost dying, the pain, the confusion and the realization that this is real. One of the differences in me now is that everyday when I wake up the nightmares don’t stop they just begin. Just because I’m not dead doesn’t mean I am fully alive. Everyday is a war, during the night I battle night terrors and during the day I have to maintain the monster that sleeps beneath my skin. I must remain calm and feed the good dog within me. I must remain positive. I have to feed my good dog words of hope and faith.. It’s the only way I can survive.
Tragedy into triumph:
Although this was a horrific time for me I have a special place in my heart for it. This time is a constant reminder that I have survived. I am strong and I can get through anything. The tragedy of life is not death but what we let die inside of us while we are still living. We all have to decide to not let anything else die within us while we still have unwritten pages in our book of life. I finally chose to embrace each day and use the hours and minutes within my days wisely. I have learned that we do not grow as a person when things are easy, we grow when we are challenged. We grow when we tackle the obstacles that stand in our way headstrong. We all have challenges in our lives and we all have the power to make them better or worse. Listen to how you talk about the challenges you are facing. Make sure you are speaking from a place of positivity, make sure you are speaking life not death. You can be pitiful or you can be powerful but you can’t be both at the same time. Today you can choose which you would like to be.
The only person we should try to be better than is the person we were yesterday. I have learned to be patient while on my road to recovery. I’ve also learned that patience isn’t the ability to wait but how you act while you are waiting. I’ve learned from past experiences I won’t do everything right but I also know I won’t do everything wrong either. I’m not where I want to be in this stage of my life but I know where I came from and I know the battles I have fought and won to get here. For that I am extremely proud of myself. Whenever I start to worry about my future and the fact I’m nowhere near being where I thought I would be at this age, having a family, job, career, etc. I stop and I cast my anxiety on Him because I know He cares for me and there is a greater reason for all my struggles and heartache. Courage is fear that has said its prayers and decided to go forward anyway. I have said my prayers and I am continuing to move forward. Today is the day to be courageous. The greatest pages of your story have yet to be written. The best is yet to come.
You think and say that I look normal. You act like if I tried hard enough I could still be just the same. But what you don’t realize is I never will be the Kaylen Woosley again that you knew for 23 years and I am perfectly fine with that. Actually I am more proud to be the person I am today because I have fought like hell to become her. Yes I have my flaws and things I still need to work on but I have new depths to my soul. What you need to realize is your unrealistic expectations of trying to accept the new me, puts so much more pressure and demands on me and it has also made me very aware this is no game. Don’t misunderstand that I am not grateful or immensely thankful because I am. I am very aware that my disability could be much worse and that it is literally a miracle that I am still here. But please don’t ask me to pretend it is easy or ask me to try and minimize. Because today, my life, my losses, my reality, feels very much like a curse. Someday I am sure I will have the ability to let go of this incredible pain. But unfortunately right now it has to be handled my way, in my time frame and not the way you would like me to handle it. For that I am sorry.
Please be patient with me and love me because I am truly doing the best I can. Some injuries and their aftermath unfortunately don’t have instantaneous cures. If you could just place yourself in my shoes for a moment I think you would understand more. I don’t think you would appreciate it either if your life and identity were taken from you by someone else’s reckless behavior and you were now under the control of a “stranger” that you have to teach and reteach everything to. And I don’t think you would be particularly happy with the chaos that now lives inside your bones or the monster that silently sleeps behind your smile but is ready to attack at the slightest trigger.
I used to never blow up. I’ve always been a cut throat type of person but that is only because I am or was an athlete. You would never know I was cut throat unless you came across me on the softball field. I am a competitor BUT I was known for my composure. You never knew what I was thinking or feeling on that mound.. Or really at all in life. I’ve always kept my emotions to myself and it used to take a lot of piled up anger before I would make a peep. But now that’s a bit different. If something triggers me and sets me off well just get out of the way because Kaylen Woosley doesn’t exist anymore. My body now belongs to the monster within. But this PTSD “monster” is only trying to protect me. Just be patient because it will get tired and go back to its den and I will reappear and profusely apologize. I hate losing control. I hate losing my temper and lashing out. I’ve tried to learn all my triggers and get a control on it but sometimes that’s just not enough. Sometimes things can happen or occur out nowhere and because of that I wasn’t able to prep myself to be ready for it. It’s truly exhausting living this life now. It’s exhausting trying to maintain control over something that you will NEVER have control over. The one thing that used to help is a reassuring or loving touch/embrace but now with what has transpired I don’t trust easily and the monster within doesn’t trust at all. So it’s probably just best to stay back until it has worn itself out, unless you are brave enough to try to tame it.
With my brain changes I can’t really tolerate much now. I know I sound like a crazy lunatic with the way I am describing myself. I promise I’m not. I’m actually a very gentle kind person. I don’t like to allow myself such feelings of wrath or inexplicable anger but for now it’s out of my control. There is a story about how we all have two dogs inside of us, a good dog and a mean dog. The dog that everyone on the outside sees and experiences is the one you feed. Well my dominant dog is good and I continuously feed him but after a lot of what I have gone through I have quite a bit of pent up rage, confusion and hurt which tend to all come out as the same emotion.. Anger. Unfortunately all this “anger” is an endless supply of food for my mean dog. When really it’s just the sad little girl in me who is confused, hurt and lost as to why so much as happened the way it has. So therefore the mean dog gets feed and comes out to protect this little girl. Pretty much the same way my PTSD “monster” does. They are all defense mechanisms and ways to protect myself from the unknown and all the bad I have experienced. The human mind is quite powerful and will protect us.
My agitation certainly doesn’t mean I don’t need love or want love, it just means I am struggling very hard with this unwanted role. Don’t mistake me telling you all this as a sign I have given up because I haven’t. And more importantly I NEVER will. I am just merely giving you an insight of what goes on inside my brain/body now. I’ve come to terms with myself and I realize I am shattered on the inside but you will NEVER see me looking that way if you see me out. I will greet you and smile like nothing’s wrong. It’s only when you catch me off guard or if you really look me in the eyes that you will see I am a mosaic of all the battles I have fought and won.. And some I am still fighting. I am now made up of two worlds. In one I hold everything together and remain strong for everyone else and in the other I am constantly falling apart and continuously trying to patch myself up to keep going. Very few have seen into my second world. It’s only those I trust that have seen me at my weakest. I realize not all things come easy. I believe everything happens for a reason. So for now I will continue to keep putting one foot in front of the other and I will end each day with a positive thought. No matter how hard things were for me today, tomorrow is always a fresh start.
Just going through the motions. I see and hear what is going on around me but I am not there. Do you know what it’s like to physical be somewhere but at the same time you are a million miles away? When I disconnect I, Kaylen Woosley, am gone. It’s like I’m floating above myself witnessing what is going on but my body is just left there going through the motions with a smile. This can be brought on by a sound or sometimes it’s just too much stimulation and I need to escape. When it is brought on by a sound or light then that’s when my PTSD monster takes over. It’s time for me to take shelter. I go into my bomb shelter within my mind and stay there until the flashbacks are over. This can take anywhere from 10-15 minutes to hours. It’s completely random as to which flashback will haunt me and want to keep me locked up. The thing I hate most about this is the fact that I am left wishing and hoping time will pass by fast. I wake up already on edge and in survival mode and I never leave that mode for the entire day.
I’m terrified to relax and honestly I don’t even think I know how to relax anymore. Checking my watch or phone to see how much time has passed.. Ok good an hour down, oh thank God the mornings over, oh no darkness is setting in, ok well now it’s time to wind down and then the dread of now it’s time to sleep and try to stay asleep. Ugh it is exhausting. This is no way to live but unfortunately this is my “life”. Constantly terrified and worried of the unknown. So much has happened to me out of no where that I can’t be positive about anything. Just because something sounds good and feels good doesn’t mean it is good or it doesn’t mean that you can’t be sideswiped out of nowhere. This I have learned the hard way. I mean all I had left to do was get through that intersection. That’s like what?.. 10-20 yards. But nope God had another plan.
Weathering the storm:
I refuse to give up. I refuse to quit. That is just not in my genetic makeup. Even though each day is an obstacle within itself I choose to tackle it. I choose to take it on because once I do that’s one less day standing in my way and it’s another day that has made me stronger. It’s another day I get to look my PTSD monster in the eye and say “Better luck next time.” A strong soul shines after every storm. I believe that while battling and weathering my storm, I have increased the fire within me. I am no longer fearful of others seeing my cracks because that is the only way they will be able to see that light. I have fought hard to become this person and to flourish my flame. I have gone too long thinking I am worthless. I have gone too long holding high the opinions of those I loved over my own. Now it is my time. I have done lots of soul searching and I have come to terms with myself. I have read multiple books on bettering myself and to help me become the woman I want to be.
Beauty can be seen in all things. No matter how damaged you think you are, you are still beautiful. Seeing the beauty in something is all in the eye of the beholder. Change your view and perspective and I promise you it will change your life. Look for the beauty in things not the flaws. Speak life to others not death. If I would’ve known the freedom of letting go I wouldn’t have held on so tight for so long. Loosen your grip on life and give God control. You deserve the love you keep giving others. Take a step back and let that same love come back to you. Just breathe.
Who am I? Why do I cry? What is my purpose? My mind is at a loss. I feel I am stuck. I just want to go home where I can be safe. I’m not talking about my house, I’m talking about my home. Where I am meant to be. I need to go. I need to feel protected. There is too much happening. It’s madness. How am I supposed to figure myself out when I am constantly dodging land mines? How am I supposed to feel safe when the ones I love betray me? Who am I to trust? I need some consistency. I need to feel safe and secure again. I need to feel wanted by my own body and brain. If I don’t feel I belong in my own skin how am I supposed to venture out and find my purpose? Or figure out the greater meaning in this life? I don’t even know myself.
I’ve been lost in my injuries and recovery. I’ve only been able to focus on what is right in front of me. I can only handle things that will affect my immediate future. My brain can’t handle anything else or it will overload. I forget things so easily. I have no attention span. But I feel as though I am ready to try to start thinking of my long term future. I’m ready to know myself again. I want to define myself, and not have my injuries, past or issues define me. I am so much more than my brain injury. I know I still have a lot to offer. But what really defines a person? Is it my smile? Is it my struggle? My heart? My character? I don’t know but I am willing to fight to find out. You see the old Kaylen is still inside me. I see her every once in awhile when I look in the mirror. She is still there hidden in my eyes. I see her staring back at me smiling. Her voice is softer now but she is still in there. That is who I am fighting for. I am fighting for that little girl who still lives inside me and cries every night. She is waiting to emerge when it is safe so I will continue to fight and protect her. I have grown tired of fighting and pretending to be ok. It is now her time to emerge. I am ready to be Kaylen again.
This is a scary concept for me. I’m scared to be vulnerable and let down my guard. I feel I have to always protect myself. I’m extremely hypervigilant now after everything that has happened and because of my severe PTSD. I know what it’s like to be driving down the road and then to wake up a month later in a hospital not knowing anything. Anything can happen at anytime. That’s why I try to maintain control so I won’t be caught off guard but let’s be honest there is no such thing as control. I am also perfectly aware of that. But the monster within never sleeps. He is always roaming right beneath my skin. He peers through my smile. He is waiting and watching everything. He is waiting to lash out at anything he deems is a threat. I’m done trying to tame this beast. I’m done waiting for the world to end.
My world has already ended many times and began again in the morning. It’s time for me to let it all go. I will never be fully released of my injuries but that’s ok. I have had to fight like hell to get me where I am, and fighting like hell has molded me into the woman I am today. I know there is a greater reason for my struggle and it is up to me to keep fighting everyday to find my greater purpose. God brought me to and got me out of that intersection on June 11 and I know He will get me through whatever I am going through. I feel as if I am now ready to be set free. Free of my mistakes, fears, worries, heartaches and doubt. I am a bird set free. I don’t belong to anyone or anything. I am learning to find love within myself. I am becoming complete on my own. I am freeing myself of all my criticisms. It is time for me to give myself some slack. I may not know how to fly but I know where there is a ladder. And I am ready to climb. I am on the search for the truth. It’s time to be happy again. I am taking a deep breath, dusting myself off and daring to begin again.
When darkness falls the monsters come out to play. Darkness for me can be brought on by sadness, anxiety or something/someone unexpectedly being taken or removed from my life. Change, for me, can bring on darkness quickly. I have experienced enough change to last a lifetime. I had my life and identity ripped apart within seconds. The actual absence of light also brings out the monsters as well. Night time is not the best for me anymore after my wreck. It brings on the flashbacks of being in my coma, hearing and feeling everything while being trapped inside my body. Being trapped in complete darkness with no escape. It brings back the horrible memories of Jim Thorpe, the screaming and being tied down to my bed. I hate reliving the nightmare. Will I ever fully be free of this nightmare? Can I break the chains or will I always be stuck in the dark?
I have shed a thousand skins to become the person I am today. I can vaguely remember my life before everything fell apart. Sometimes I question my “memories” of my previous life, I don’t know if they are truly memories or if they are just the what ifs I like to dream about. I used to cry every night, and long for the what ifs and the previous life I remembered. I long for the person I could’ve been. I long for the future I could’ve had. Would you like to take a walk with me for just a day? Do you think you have the strength to face constant rejection? To face the abandonment? To face the unknown?
I no longer have my previous identity, it was tragically lost forever along my road to recovery. It was ripped away in a matter of seconds. It was forever lost in my car. In the intersection. Disability seems like infinity. It seems like a never ending journey. Always searching for a way out and for a way back to the light. I just need reassurance that this will soon be over, I will find my way back to the light, I will find myself again. I know one day I will look back and remember when I was struggling to survive. When I was living minute to minute, hour by hour. I will remember how I was never fully living, just surviving. I will look back on this time of my life and I will smile. I will smile because I survived. I will marvel at the grief that softened me, at the heartache that made my wiser and at the suffering that strengthened me. I will smile because being stuck in the pit of Hell during my recovery introduced me to my new self. It introduced me to my new beginning.
This fight to become “normal” again has molded me and transformed me into the confident strong woman I am today. I am a continuous work in progress but I feel myself growing stronger and becoming more comfortable in my new body everyday. Because of my injury I had to start over, back from square one. By doing this I now know myself better than ever. I am confident because I know who I am, what I’ve survived and I can love myself for who I am becoming. Being stuck reminded me of all the reasons to move forward. Rock bottom is where I decided to fight and it is where I started building the foundation for my new identity.
None of us are getting out of here alive. I learned this lesson during my time at OU medical. I am constantly reminded of this lesson through my flashbacks of laying in the hospital bed clinging on for my life. Slowly fading but fighting to hold on. Getting closer and closer to the darkness but fighting for the light. We all have to go out and seize the life we want. You must speak the truth that you are carrying in your heart. Be silly. Be kind. And love like there is no tomorrow. There is no time for anything else. You never know when you will take your last breath. Someday the pain you are dealing with today will become the source of your strength. Face it. Embrace it. You will make it.
Before June 11, 2012 I would consider myself to be athletic. In my “old” life I played softball so before June 11, I could easily catch a ball, track a ball and use my visual spatial skills but after June 11, that dramatically changed. Found this out in Occupational therapy. I was aware that my visual skills were messed up because I used to go out to the lake and I would mistake geese for rocks but then the rocks would move and freak me out so I had an idea that my brain wasn’t receiving the right message from my eyes. Then this was confirmed on one of my numerous visits to the neurologist. But I had no idea that if someone was to stand over me as I laid on the ground and told me to my face that they were about to drop the ball and for me to catch it that I couldn’t. I had no idea that the ball would smack me in the face before I could even react. That’s one of the many things I learned in occupational therapy about my “new” self.
Another lovely thing I learned is I can’t handle motion or movement of any kind. I was asked by my occupational therapist one day if I could swing. I hadn’t been on a swing in years & definitely hadn’t been on one after my wreck so I answered “of course.” I was once again proven wrong. One of the exercises I had to do in occupational therapy was sit on a tire swing and “swing”. But for me I just kind of sat because I very quickly learned I couldn’t handle the movement. Yes I, a 25-26 year old woman, did most of my therapy in the pediatric gym. Talk about humbling. But as I was fighting my way back through recovery I was basically a child. I had reverted back due to my brain injury. I did a lot of “fun” stuff in occupational therapy.. I played Where’s Waldo, attempted origami (but let’s be honest I just folded paper and had difficulty with that), I did puzzles at 5-10yr old level, played a demonic board game that sent my PTSD in overdrive from the excessive beeping and did a lot with the lovely metronome. Gosh I HATED that thing. It’s truly amazing the stuff I would work on in there and how simple it was but yet for me I felt like my therapists expected me to learn rocket science in a week.
My therapy family:
I don’t know where I would be today without my therapists. I was truly blessed with a great team. I believe I had almost every one of them work with me. They all saw me progress from my wheelchair and crazy hair to my walker and then to walking in and looking “normal” on the outside. All of them helped me on my road to recovery. They were my greatest supporters and some turned into great friends. They knew more about my life than some of my closest friends. These days of therapy were in a sick way probably the best days of my life. I will forever hold these dark days very close to my heart. My therapists gave me hope that my bad times wouldn’t last forever and they gave me hope in humanity. I believe I was meant to have each of them come into my life at the times that they did. During my days and years of therapy I met great genuine people and I got the opportunity to put myself back together BUT unlike many I got to choose how I wanted my pieces to fit. I decided how I was going to be put back together and what my end result was going to be. And I believe I did a pretty good job.
Everybody has gone through something that has changed them to where they can never go back to the person they were before. Unfortunately for me I just had to go through everything all at once. My circumstances may have sent me to the edge and may have burned everything down around me but just like a Phoenix I have risen back up. I chose to not stay down because during this process I have learned what I want out of life and I can’t achieve any of it if I stay down on the ground where pain and sadness want to keep me. If I want to achieve anything I have to stand up and walk with courage, so that’s exactly what I’m doing.