Today I walk out of my fourth month of spinal cord injury recovery. I walk forward on this new path created by an injury that drastically changed the course of my life. On October 22, 2015 when I tumbled down the stairs into a broken neck and damaged my spinal cord I began a new way of being in this life. The process of learning to live with a physical body that no longer accepts every command from my ego mind has been profound. The experience of relying completely on the kindness of others, first for survival and then for ease of life experience, has been both humbling and enlivening.
I do not have a single ounce of doubt that I am better off today than I was four months ago. Even as I type with only two index fingers, because the dexterity of my hands is quite limited. Even as I sit in a body that tingles in most of my muscle fibers with bizarre sensations and a torso, arms and legs that move slowly, stiffly, and awkwardly. Even given the state of this less than ideal physical condition, still I feel more real, embodied and whole than I have ever in my 46 years of living.
The new sense of wholeness comes from a few sources. First I will name the feeling of being seen and appreciated by so many people. The loving support that has poured in from all directions since my accident has been a direct lifeline to a full feeling of gratitude and appreciation. Sharing my feelings and experiences along this healing journey is liberating and as it is met with positive feedback and warmth, I am comforted and encouraged.
Secondly, I will claim a sense of embodiment and wholeness from feeling my raw determination and efforts. While never laying the burden of my life's satisfaction on my ability to do anything (with the exception of really needing to wipe my own ass) I have worked diligently in every single day of recovery to gain new physical, emotional and energetic capacities. This sense of hard work and effort, while crazy difficult at times, is also immensely satisfying.
Finally for this entry, as there is certainly much more bubbling up inside, I will be honest about my grief and vulnerability. Daily I grieve and I feel deep pain about the struggles I encounter as a result of my accident. I grieve the loss of being able to move about the world with a sense of ease. I suffer from the relatively constant discomfort that arises from being so awkward and unbalanced in my physical body. I feel a survival level fear in most of my daily activities that involve movement. There is no doubt I am living in a body with a heart that is traumatized on many levels.
I do my very best to allow myself space for this grief, frustration and pain. I don't wallow in the negative energies, but I am trying not to hide or run from them. And when I catch myself running or hiding from the ugly side of this mind. body and soul level experience, I remind myself it is both normal and necessary.
Walking through the world with my vulnerability worn on my sleeve takes an enormous amount of courage. I view it as badge of honor that I have been dealt this hand of cards to deal with and have shown up with a heart full of integrity. I deeply appreciate my own willingness to accept what is, while doing my level best to live my way into feeling as healthy, whole and complete as possible. May my fifth month of healing be as rewarding.
Lizandra Vidal is a poet, writer, and wellness expert. In 2015 she suffered a spinal cord injury and this blog is a space where she shares the story of her experience.