I haven’t written or recorded a video in almost two months.
Today, a friend at work asked if I was still writing.
I have sat down countless times over the past two months, and sometimes, I even started a post. But they were never good enough. Never telling enough. The issue is not a lack of things to write about – the issue is where to begin.
When I first started this blog, I did so in hopes of sharing my journey in recovery. While the way in which I lost my voice was rather unique, there was nothing unique about the end result: I was lost without my voice, and I would do anything I could to make myself heard, like the numerous other people blindsided every day by accidents, strokes, heart attacks – the list goes on.
I just wanted someone to HEAR me, and in turn, I hoped that I could help others going through a similar journey. For those of you who have not gone through a similar journey, well – I hoped that I could help you to understand just what it’s like. I lost my speech. Others may have lost something else. In the end, the recovery process is similar anyway. We’re all starting from scratch and clawing our way back to the life we once knew.
But what happens when you get there? Or some version of what you once knew? I haven’t recorded a video in a long time, and to be honest, it was because initially the progress I made each week was readily audible. As time progressed, it got harder and harder to hear a noticeable difference on the tapes.
I started to ask myself, “Is this it?”
“Is this as good as it gets?”
People who don’t completely understand hear me ask that, and their response is usually something like, “Well, look at how you started! The difference is huge. You should be so thankful!”
Friends, let’s not make any mistake. I am SO thankful. I am thankful to everyone who has helped me to this point. I will take how I am today for the rest of my life compared to the life I knew on June 5, 2013 when I woke up, speechless and aphasic. I have worked so hard to get to this point, that I would be amiss to not appreciate what I have now.
That being said, when you get to the point in the recovery process where you find yourself asking if that’s the best things are going to get, it can be difficult. And the precise reason why I have made so much progress is the blame – I am a Type-A, OCD, perseverating, perfectionist. I am my own worst critic. And while I have the insight to understand that, it’s hard to change.
I was watching a documentary called Sole Survivor–ironically before I took my first plane trip after my injury–about people who were the only ones to survive a horrible plane crash. Many of them shared the same feeling that I have felt but struggled to pinpoint: after surviving and returning to relative normalcy after something so horrible, you find yourself wondering whether you deserve it.
You feel as if you should be doing something SO great with your life. So meaningful. Like you should be single-handedly changing the world.
This second chance at life has been given to you. Why are you not DOING anything with it?
The thing is, immediately after an injury or other catastrophe, time seems to slow down. Like those action movie previews, when the bass goes way up and the camera pans out to a car exploding in slow motion, or something of the like. At least, that’s how the few months felt subsequent to my accident. My days were punctuated by naps, speech and occupational therapy sessions and the focus was a sole objective: get it back – life – get it ALL back.
And then somehow, as I got better, life resumed its normal pace and in fact, sped up. The thing was, all the things that I got to put aside for a few months came rushing back – all the things that I wanted to get away from, though I could think of about 500 other ways I would have preferred to escape.
My dad was still gone. No, scratch that. Dead. I don’t like to say it, THAT word. But it is what it is. And a year and a half and a TBI later, I still can’t believe it.
I still can’t believe that I can’t call him and tell him all about the past seven months and what I’ve done. I can’t call and tell him that I just flew to Texas and presented at an important work function. Something absolutely unthinkable seven months ago.
I can’t tell him that I am really enjoying riding my “half horse” and that my own horse is on her way to recovery. I get to put tack on her next month, again. Finally.
And I certainly can’t tell him how stressful moving my mom closer to us has been. Finally, finally she is closer, and I’m so glad. But packing up the house and knowing that I still have to go back down and clear out what’s left is, well, completely surreal and also, agonizing.
So, it occurred to me that I have finally reached the goal I so badly wanted to achieve last summer. I made it back to my life, as I knew it before. Except, there were so many parts of it that I didn’t want to re-visit. Reality shows, and it’s not like the crappy, vacant shows I enjoy watching (much to Paul’s disdain) on the Bravo channel.
I started this blog, as I said before, to help others to relate or to understand. But really, I’m the one who has gained the most benefit.
I don’t have to be defined by what happened to me. The fact that I survived a horse kick to the head and a fractured skull doesn’t earn me any badges of honor, and it shouldn’t. The fact that I regained my speech well enough to fly to a work function and speak in front of a group of raters and medical professionals doesn’t mean I deserve a ribbon. It’s just life, and it just is.
Yet, it does mean that I will always wonder why. Not why did this happen to me, but the “why” of why I’m still invested in thinking about my life and what I want to do with it. Am I doing enough to help other people? To pursue happiness? To appreciate the moments I’ve been given, despite the stresses of reality?
I’m still thinking about it, and in the mean time, I’m still writing.