With a spinal cord injury, there is SO much physical that happens and takes the front and center in the early days. I won’t even get into that yet. However, as the original shock of it all wears off, and because so much of the physical has changed, the emotional side becomes really huge.
You see the pain and fear in the eyes of those who love you, so you try to hold it together and be strong…for them.
You see how much extra work has now been given to them to take care of all your new deficiencies…and so you try to not to ask for anything more than what you must have to get through a day…for them.
You are trying to figure out how to live in a world not prepared (neither physically nor emotionally) for your disability and figuring out how to navigate always being “the different one that gets stared at..a LOT” and so you sort of learn to look at the ground while out in public…or you try to constantly feel that you have to prove that you belong in society like everyone else and you develop insecurities just trying to live a “normal” life…to help “them” not feel inconvenienced by you.
This is a HUGE blow to your identity, in trying to figure out who you are now, in trying to navigate all the people in your life and finding that delicate balance of still being an individual that now needs help, without losing who you are by being a burden for all the help you now need.
And it takes time…
✓ It takes time to learn how to do more on your own.
✓ It takes time to learn your new normals.
✓ It takes time to accept and then define who the “new you” even is.
✓ It takes time to learn to look up, and meet those staring eyes with a confident smile.
✓ It takes time to be okay that people will never understand unless they live with the exact same things you do every day.
✓ It takes time to learn to just stop explaining and just go on…silently thanking God for them that they don’t have to live with a spinal cord injury and that is why they are clueless.
✓ It takes time to be okay with who you are and who you need to be to just be allowed to be an individual again without hundreds of opinions and expectations trying to tell you how you should best do things now.
✓ It takes time for those around you to either love and accept the new you, or to just walk out of your life.
✓ It takes time you to learn who your real friends are and who loves you anyway.
✓ It takes time to not feel you have to prove you are still capable of so many amazing things!
✓ It takes time to marry the thought that yes, you can have physical needs to be taken care of, yet still be 100% in charge of your care and your decisions and your life.
✓ It takes time to be you again. And if the “you” of today looks and operates differently than the you before, it is totally okay. Life has thrown a rough path your way and you didn’t quit. You kept going.
This process of time is always in motion…with every new circumstance or event thrown at you…you constantly are taken down an emotional path. The cool thing about time is that you have practiced this emotional journey enough to navigate most things much quicker. Like driving these wheelchairs…we were all HORRIBLE at first and barely had the strength too, but give us awhile and we can maneuver them better than anyone else. This is the emotional journey also.
Time is a wise teacher if we will open our hearts and learn.