post traumatic growth

This is me right now.

post traumatic growth

In a bad way, yes, and also in the best possible way.

I don’t really believe that “bad things happen for a reason,” or that the universe sent me a sign and I’m supposed to learn something from my accident and injuries. But that isn’t mutually exclusive with the idea that I can still learn something from it, that something good can come from something shitty and without meaning.

I am trying to stay positive and focus on my blessings, yes they are manifold, but I tend to creep back into that “this is so UNFAIR” line of thinking. Like, all I want is free rein to exercise without limitations, to use my body and my life to the fullest and there they are: People who can exercise but just choose not to. It’s so unfair, right? But then the realization swings all the way around, 360 degrees to hit me right back in the face.

It’s not fair. Nothing was ever meant to be fair, said to fair, or expected to be fair. A quadriplegic coming back from Afghanistan, no it’s not fair that he can’t do what he wants with his body, just as someone else takes a perfectly healthy human form and trashes it into oblivion with drugs or who knows what else.

No one ever said this was fair.

Or meaningful. It’s up to us to find the meaning, to weave the story, to fight against a crapload of disjointed stimuli to make a narrative, positive, redemptive, stubbornly optimistic, and yes frail, and yes negative, and maybe even self-defeating with worry and sadness, it’s all part of this story but at least I have a story.

Today is seven weeks since my car accident and I am not fully healed from my concussion and what is FUBARed in my neck but I’m hopeful I will be soon. I am grateful for the way this injury has rebuilt some of my brain synapses, because they’ve regrown this time around programmed with some humility, some spirituality, some hunger for a bigger, better life that I’m hoping will ultimately leave me better than before, when all is said and done, when all nerves stop shuddering and fraying, when my brain calms into its next iteration.

I just might have needed that knock on the head. I needed it like a hole in the head, like a gap in my life that is forcing me to look for what to fill in the vacuum. Was it right or healthy to have so much of my quality of life and mood and happiness resting on the ability to exercise to voluntary maximum exhaustion? Sure, I think it’s okay, that’s my hobby, that’s one of my life’s loves, a major coping mechanism. But maybe I need to be forced to re-evaluate the quality of my life in other ways. Maybe I need to strengthen other muscles while this one necessarily atrophies. Ligaments and tendons, social networks, friendships, family ties, meaningful vocation, sleeping at night, my marriage, my children, and spiritual meaning. They are all that’s bolstering me, the net under me and my worry, my inability to access that endorphin medicine, my anxiety over when will I get well? I don’t know.

And I have to be okay with not knowing. And if that’s the “lesson,” that’s okay. I accept it. I accept looking into a yawning unknown and not flinching, not turning away from a cold wind, not hesitating,



Thank you, 2013 for the pleasure and the pain.


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4 Responses to post traumatic growth

  1. Hey there, I just wanted to leave you a little note to say keep on keeping on. I broke my leg in May, and it took what felt like an eternity (4 months) to get back to semi-normal. And I just hated those people who COULD run but weren’t. Or worse, I hated those people running on the side of the road as I drove by. I wanted to yell, “I hope you’re enjoying that for those of us who can’t!”

    My personal takeaway was that it was a time for me to learn to really appreciate what I can do and what my body can do (including heal itself, albeit slowly).

    Thanks for the great writing, and I hope you get back to what’s normal for you very soon. Be well in 2014!

    • admin

      Thank you Carolyn! I am glad you are semi-normal (let’s be honest, we know we’re not normal :()). Thanks for the encouragement.

  2. I’m so bummed that you aren’t all the way better. My father got a bad concussion years ago and he never fully recovered (sorry, this isn’t helpful) so I know how devastating it can be. Just don’t regress to a teenage state and play World of Warcraft for hours and get a girlfriend like he did lol

    • admin

      Ugh yeah don’t tell me that. I mean tell me that, but don’t tell me that. How did he never fully recover? Good thing is my cognitive brain is fine, just dizzy/eyesight problems are left over but hopefully temporary as well.

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