It was a beautiful spring day. Amidst the excitement of my son’s senior prom, all felt calm. We had just taken photos and were on our way to meet the limo. Breathing in the beauty of the day and sweet conversation with my son, my heart filled with joy. Life was good. An instant later, it changed forever.
We were struck head on by a driver under the influence of drugs. I still tremble with flashbacks from the violent hit we took causing our SUV to roll over, rather bounce like a matchbox car, twice. By the grace of God, we landed right side up. I was briefly unconscious and startled by the terrified yell from my son to see if I was ok. Our car was smoky, I was disoriented and in pain, but we both managed to get out of the car. We were alive. My son was spared. I sustained a concussion including immediate short term memory loss, double vision, cognitive and processing disorders and behavioral changes among a long list that dismantled my life. Soon after, I was diagnosed with a TBI. Life as I knew it was changed forever.
Almost five years out; I have learned and still am learning many lessons throughout this journey. It has been a difficult one. I won’t lie. There were times I almost gave up. How could I go on when I was so different; so broken? In my mind, I wasn’t good enough to continue on. I could barely function and get through the day. I wouldn’t remember to eat. Who does that? I’d forget if I took my medication literally seconds after taking it or take it twice. The simple task of getting dressed was a huge struggle. I’d almost go out of the house half-dressed or with two of every piece of clothing on. My life was filled with sticky notes to help me remember. Yet, I’d forget everything. I had zero recall. It was beyond scary. The chronic pain, severe headaches and brain fatigue were unbearable. How was I ever going to make it through?
Sometimes bad things happen. Sometimes, things are turned upside down in order for us to see right side up. Sometimes, a very turbulent experience brings us to our true purpose. Often, we are changed in ways we could never have imagined; experiencing depths of life we’d rather not face. One thing is for sure; we come out of it very different than before and it’s a terrifying ride.
I believe the world breaks us so we can better connect with each other and help guide each other on journeys similar to our own. We go through this dark time and doubt every ounce of ability we have within us; if we are worth it. We wonder when the dark cloud will lift. While we are under it, we lose faith and wonder when the tides will ever turn and the sun will shine on us again. These adversities we face test every ounce of strength we have; they make us question our purpose; our very existence in the world. In the midst of this chaotic darkness that covers us like a rough scratchy blanket, we often come across earth angels that guide us through. I truly believe they are sent from above to lift us when we need it most. We squint through the fog, and if we open our eyes wide enough we find plenty good surrounding us to restore our faith and hope that somehow, someway we will make it through and feel whole again.
Acceptance of what life hands us is half our battle. What we choose to do with it is a matter of choice. It’s time to stop beating ourselves up over our flaws. I’ve learned to do what I can, when I can. I’ve learned to be grateful for the good days and to be kind, loving and gentle with myself on the not so good ones. There comes a time in everyone’s life to make the transition from victim to victor. We can choose to tell the same story over and over again, allowing it to consume us or we can make continuous efforts to make our own ending. We have the power to alter our destiny. Believe it. The choice is yours. I choose a new ending and am on a mission to inspire as many as I can on this journey called Ucan2. Who’s coming with me?
The message of Ucan2 is a powerful one. No matter what life hands you, no matter how life breaks you and no matter how different you are now than you were before what ever tried to bring you down; you CAN find your way and move forward. Never let anyone tell you that you can’t. Because, you sure as hell can!
Know that every experience you go through brings you to another level; it brings forth a new dimension of yourself that you never knew existed. Never lose hope. Do the best you can with what you have. Learn from each experience. Grow from the pain. Create and design a new life from all the broken pieces. Find your inner warrior and do whatever you have to do to heal yourself and move forward. Surround yourself with those who support you and get it. But, don’t you dare ever give up. Because even when you think you can’t… UCAN2! If I can do it, then you can too!
“The world breaks everyone and afterward, some are strong in the broken places.”