It is still difficult to believe that I have been LIVING with a spinal cord injury for 6 years. 6 solid years, WOW, haven’t these 6 years been a beautiful chaotic story. I am constantly reminded with the 5th permanently tattooed in my memory and it feels like it was yesterday. Although no one signs up for this life, you never in a million years guess that this could be you, one minute you’re walking the next you’re surrounded by a metal frame with four wheels. On the day of my accident…I woke up, had breakfast, met my friend Jody for lunch, went shopping, fake tanned and went out for a meal. It was a completely normal day, I didn’t feel any worry, I didn’t experience any bad vibes that something bad was about to happen. I didn’t imagine for a second that I wasn’t going to return home that night, I would never wash my horrendous fake tan off my body in the shower or drive my car. That day is a day I remember in perfect clarity and it always brings me back to how scared, confused and alone I was, I cry for my 22 year old self who had to go through all of that pain, I cry for the identity I lost and the life I would never have, I cry for the girl who has spent the past 6 years getting through something without ever realising how insanely hard it actually is, being like this becomes a part of your life you do just that, you pick up the pieces and you persist in living.
But for me, it took a long time to snap out of a dark depression and slowly come back to life. There was a period of time following my injury that I was simply going through waves of trying to find reasons to be here, these were motions of hatred towards everyone and everything, I found I was drowning more than treading water, I was fighting but was losing more often and I just couldn’t accept what had happened to me. Until it was like a switch flipped and finally I began finding a reason to keep going. I realised that life just goes on, and that’s it, it really does no matter how hard you try to clutch at something so memorable sadly life keeps on moving. For a while I felt that moving on was me giving up, I felt not thinking about my old self every day meant I had stopped fighting. I once saw myself as needed to be fixed and I thought someone/something was going to do that. I naively thought I couldn’t exist if I wasn’t walking, I thought society looked at me as broken, special, not normal and that recovering from a spinal cord injury meant one thing, walking again. I didn’t want to live, I was driving myself insane, screaming at my family, desperately finding a button to push to get rid of this nightmare, but it wasn’t going away until one day I made the decision to stop suffering and to start living. I still remember that day, I would picture the horrendous days to snap myself out of this sorry state, I would think back to when we discovered the first sign of arm movement and how awesomely amazing that was, I then figured that not only have I physically been getting better but I’ve somehow allowed myself to move on. I’m proud of my battle, tears and my mistakes, they have allowed me to build a new life. Yes, my life could be so much better and this year I’ve been well and truly tested but everything happens for a reason. So, as I sit here, 6 years on, I’m still reaching goals, processing letting go and moving forward, learning to replace my feelings of hatred with happiness, forgiving the most unforgettable actions to help my journey, wondering what/where my future will take me but one things for sure I am still Carly. I will never be the same me 6 years ago, I won’t walk the path I thought I was going to and I’m slowly thinking that’s ok. The reality is my four wheels have taken me to places my two legs would never have gone, I’ve met inspiring humans who are now my friends, pushed my body to greater limits, grown closer as a family and realised my spinal cord injury doesn’t define me, yes, it’s part of me, but it in no way defines who I am. I am a wife, someone who is dreaming of being a mum, a daughter, a sister, soon to be an Auntie, a family member and a friend who happens to be living with a spinal cord injury who is improving mentally and physically all the time.
I am exactly where I need to be in my life.
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