It’s been such a long time since I’ve written a blog post. I feel like I’ve been waiting for something ‘profound enough’ to happen, despite having published a book and grown and birthed two humans since my last entry. I think I just felt like my next post had to be perfect, and the longer it took me, the more the pressure built … so I waited…. and waited…. I mean, do people even still read blog posts?!
Well, today I have found myself with a free hour, so here is an unfiltered, unedited and wildly imperfect blog entry. Fuck it.
I realize the title to this post seems pretty grandiose, particularly if you are not a Harry Potter fan, but today I am owning it, because today marks precisely five years since my motorcycle accident. Five years since the day I was convinced that both the joys and burdens of life were no longer mine to bear. Five years since I didn’t die. Today is my crashiversary.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking leading up to this day, about how my life has changed, or moreover, how it has not really changed, since that day. Reading back through my blog posts there were so many poignant lessons learned, so many things ‘I was never going to take for granted again’; that first shower after an eternity of bed baths, the first sweet release from corpse pose after spending months on my back, the sensation of movement and air on my face when I was first hoisted into my wheelchair. But, of course, here I am five years later, taking all the beauty and wonder of the world for granted again. I am sure that’s normal, and I likely wouldn’t function very well if I continued to indulge all of these sensations as deeply as I did in those early moments, but I would still prefer that they stayed with me a little more, that I hadn’t allowed the normal to creep back into my life again quite so quickly.
Blog Entry: Dec 10, 2017 – I feel a burning need to redefine myself in this context of my new normal. The less I need help, the more I am shaking off the identity of ‘patient’ that has been with me for so long, and I’m still not sure what is left in its stead. Should I be a new person now? A better person than I was before? Should I be doing something extraordinary with my second chance? Dedicating myself to helping others? Probably. And the pressure to figure this all out is like a permanent, unreachable thread that keeps tugging on the edge of my mind.
The thread is still there, and I’m worried that I have disappointed others and myself by not ‘doing the thing’ that would give my survival the ultimate purpose, the meaning I was craving so badly at that time. After only a short respite from the made-up stresses of modern life, I care too much what other people think of me again now, I let small things stress me out or get me down, and I haven’t even run any bloody marathons. Isn’t running a marathon what you do when the universe decides you are allowed your legs back again? I’m sure I was supposed to.
I still feel extraordinarily lucky to be here, to be so healthy, and to go on living my life without any major impediment. I also feel a tremendous sense of pride when people ask about my accident and I tell them about everything I have had to overcome, and an enormous gratitude to everyone who helped me along the way. But where has that incredible sense of perspective gone? The ‘life is too short not to live every moment of it’ glow?
I’m sure there are people out there who have managed to cling onto this perspective. People who have been through majorly traumatic life events and turned them into something wonderful, not just gone back to their life in recruitment and gotten themselves in a major tiz about how disorganised their spice rack is. FFS.
I want to find them. And I want to join them in their new world – climb a mountain with them, spend a week working for the amazing charity they set up, milk cows with them on the farm they bought after throwing-in the towel on their corporate lives – I want to do all of these things while interviewing them about how they used their trauma as fuel to create meaning and build the life they truly want. I want to tease out their wisdom and share it with the world. Even if it means I have to run a bloody marathon.
I think it’s time for book no.2. Please leave any suggestions of inspiring people you know / have heard of who have experienced a major trauma and gone on to achieve something incredible in the comments section below.