It was last September when I left Pittsburgh. At that point I had been healing from the spinal cord injury for not quite a year yet. In that first year I had been healing and had some travels, but September 2016 was when I said out loud that I was going on a Healing Journey. I didn't know specifically what my Healing Journey would look like,but I needed travel and adventure to accompany the transformation happening in my inner landscape and physical body. I was looking for new experiences that would help me create clarity with my new way of being.
I felt a compulsion to leave the familiarity of my exterior world to match the absence of familiarity in my interior world. After all of this time, I still look for the words to help you understand what it was like for me to lose access to my physical body, and then ever so slowly regain capacity for basic human agency but without a sense of familiarity. In conversation people have likened what I say about my experience to that of having a new born child, and others have compared it to the grieving process. I haven't experienced either of those states fully in my life story thus far, so its hard for me to say how much my experience is like them.
What I can say today about my experience to date is that there is definitely a strong aspect of surreality to it all. It has been almost two years now. I have made an intentional effort to be fully present for each moment of this experience, still I find it hard to imagine the time when I couldn't move my body at all. I can recall it, but I often wonder, "Was that really me? Did I really need a power wheelchair for 5 weeks? Did someone really have to wipe my ass for a month? Did I really go to India when I could hardly walk?" So much that happened doesn't seem possible. And still I know it is possible, because I did experience it all.
I experienced it and a big part of me has accepted my circumstances as my new reality most of the time. But while an active part of me felt and played out a story of acceptance, hovering in the background is a sad, tired, and uncomfortable being just working toward "getting through this". While I say I accept my current condition, two years later and still challenged by stiff movement and a combination of numb and bizarre sensation. I also daily dream of the day that I can move and walk without effort. I am honestly just waiting and wishing for the day my body will stop buzzing and being numb. There is a big part of me that doesn't accept this at all. And she cries often.
So now here I am, just under two years after falling down the stairs and just over one year of adventurous travels. Here I am sitting in a pub in Dublin, Ireland, one ear listening to Irish brogues tell stories to each other over pints at 2:00 in the afternoon on a Tuesday, the other ear listening to my internal dialogue about the story I want to tell you today. I came to Dublin for a single day because it was the cheapest flight back to Pittsburgh.
Tomorrow I'll take a plane to my own personal ground zero. I'll go walk up and down those stairs I fell down and changed my life forever. I wasn't meant to be going back right now. Or rather I should say I didn't intend to return to the US just yet. I had considered it and decided against it. I had bought a ticket to Goa, India. I was going to the Bone and Body Clinic for 8 weeks of intensive healing. And then I got news that a friend died.
I was sitting at the dining room table of the friends I was visiting in Provence, France. I opened my email and got a message that said, "I'm sorry to tell you this over email but our friend died." I was shocked. I said "Fuck." my heart started to explode into 1000 pieces and I stopped it. I decided not to process the sadness and set it to the side and carried on with my visit. But while I sat with friends, it kept coming back into my head, "My friend is dead." A thread of the fabric in the eco-system of one of my closest circles of love had been ripped out. The hole was too big not to feel. That afternoon I knew I wouldn't be going to India, and that I would come back to the US to hug as many of the people I love as possible.
So that is the next stage of my Healing Journey - I just in this moment as I type decided to call it Lizandra's US Hugging Tour. It'll start in Pittsburgh and then I'll feel my way into the proper order of hugging visits. If you'd like to put in a special request for a hugging visit - please send me an email at lizandra311 at gmail.com. If I don't get to hug you in person - say hi by email and know that I love you exactly as you are with nothing to fix or make more lovable or capable.