Wheel a mile in my chair…what comes to mind when you hear this clever turn of phrase? It definitely needs greater clarification.
You’ve heard the expression; walk a mile in my shoes right? Well, I am making a bold attempt to draw out specific lessons from my experiences living with a spinal cord injury and being confined to a wheelchair —and that lesson is, appreciating life whatever situation one might find themselves whilst overcoming the crippling devastation from pain and loss.
Have you ever stared at the ceiling contemplating what turn your life has taken?
Have you ever dragged yourself out of bed in the hopes that today will differ from the previous hours of excruciating boredom and listlessness? Each minute seems to pass by with minuscule expectation of reminders of the little joys in life; of a purpose…or dreams once shared.
At times, people look around and feel a deep, ‘justified’ dissatisfaction with their current situation. Despite the job, house, relationship, rate of family expansion, choice or non-choice of partner, non-existence of a lover, even the absence of precious ‘me’ time.
Countless minutes are spent trying to comprehend how things are not progressing like they should. How one day a person can feel like they are on the apex of a mountain and the next, plunge themselves into helplessness and despair. I am no stranger to moments such as these and I am a hundred times certain that you aren’t either.
I challenge you to view the title of this article as a truth
View it as definitive sentiment. A mantra that can possibly shape, nay alter your perspective during the troubling times. Those palpable moments of paralysing doubt, soul-crushing fear and nagging bouts of self-loathing and self-pity.Wheel a mile in my chair is a mantra that can alter your perspective during troubling times Click To Tweet
Striving for perfection is certainly no fool’s errand. Experiencing all these turbulent, crippling emotions is natural. But dwelling and revelling in them will not only hinder personal growth but actually contribute to the perceived obstacles that seem to be ripping your dreams and aspirations to shreds.
My life used to have a somewhat defined path; a certain structure that could fit all my hopes, dreams and desires. I wanted to have a cushy job by the age of 25 and a car with a chauffeur. A nice little ‘nest egg’ for rainy days and free time to write, read, practice bikram yoga and chill on the beach with my amigos.
Alas, it took a drastic, unexpected, catastrophic detour.
Gone were those carefree days. As soon as the doctor gave the tragic diagnosis and said the wheelchair would be my new mode of transportation, I had to recalibrate my understanding of my circumstances. How could I possibly overcome this type of loss? What tools of the mind would be strong enough to defeat this level of excruciating agony?
First course of action was to open the floodgates to let my turbulent emotions through. Express every dark thought buried under hazy recalls of the traumatic events surrounding my injury. I needed to purge everything in a safe place —to my therapist, mother, father, sister and brother.
Next, I decided to focus on recuperating, retraining my brain to carry out simple tasks of sitting up, changing position in bed with great caution, preventing my atrophying leg muscles from weakly falling and hitting the handle rails of the ‘cosy’ hospital beds. Each task became a challenge, an opportunity to overcome the reality that I was experiencing at the time.Everyday was a struggle but I had too much to live for. Click To Tweet
No more dwelling in pits of depression and defeat
I had an exercise schedule with goals to achieve. I tried to celebrate the little things like deciding to take the brave step to wear make-up or flirt with a cute occupational therapist. The possibility of seeing myself as a sensual being that could be loved seemed inconceivable. Everyday was a struggle but I had too much to live for.
The outpouring of love and support from well-wishers served as fuel to facilitate the process of healing and restoration. Months of intensity, working through the neuropathic pain so I could start ticking things off my bucket list. Live in Southern California, go to Universal Studios and ride a roller-coaster for the first time since 4/21/14; go to Warner Bros and experience the joys of filmmaking, meet all the famous people that are making a difference; perfect my writing skills.
Geographically, my list extended to the Napa Valley, Sausalito, San Francisco, Vegas, ATL, San Jose and Rancho Santa Fe. My world opened up drastically and the spots of darkness grew smaller as the light of hope began to overshadow them.The key to dusting off the “funk” was to allow the waves of emotions to wash over me Click To Tweet
Dusting off the funk
The key to dusting off the “funk” was not to revel in it but to allow the waves of emotions to wash over me. Pushing forward to better moments helped heal me from the inside until joy emanated from every single pore. Overcoming the pain of loss is an intricate process that requires time. By drawing on different sources of strength, both internal and external, moments of doubt and helplessness became few and far between.
Experiencing all these things is part and parcel of human condition. By looking beyond the darkness to the ray of hope at the end of the tunnel, peace and tranquillity can and will be achieved.
Love. Laughter. Camaraderie. Literally enjoying your simple pleasures. Conquering the demons in and out of the mirror will be an attainable feat for any courageous individual trying to restore the shattered pieces of their souls back together.