The 29th July 2006- the day that my life changed forever!
During this time incommunicado, there came quite a monumental date- this Friday just gone, the 29th July, was exactly five years since the accident that resulted in my disability.
Five years is one of those magic & significant periods of time that is so often referred to in life as such. How often are you asked at dinner parties or over a glass of wine with a friend- ‘where do you hope to be in five years time?’, or ‘what is your five year plan?’
What indeed was my five year plan back in July 2006? Well, as far as I can remember, (being as I am now a very different person living a very different life), I was a twenty three year old former dancer teacher & choreographer who was enjoying an opportunity to travel the world as cabin crew for Virgin Atlantic, loving every minute & thinking of nothing more than continuing as such for the foreseeable future! I flew to on average five different countries a month- from
Cape Town to California, Antigua to , enjoying privileges such as free flights for myself & my family & otherwise unobtainable guest entry to exclusive celebrity hang outs scattered throughout our planets most phenomenal cities! Australia
If I’m honest; life felt bloody amazing! I felt a wonderful confidence that I had never felt as I would strut through airports worldwide in my eye catching size 6/ 8 ruby red Virgin uniform- there was often times when I had to pinch myself that this was really my life! What on Earth had I done to enjoy a life with such enviable experiences? Now of course I pinch myself that this is really happening, & wonder what on Earth I have done to warrant experiencing the trials such as those that have blighted my family & I over the last few years?
Of course, we are all aware that there are no answers to these questions & I have to confess to almost driving myself crazy on many a sleepless night in an attempt to seek such explanations; however there has to come a time when in order to move forward in your life, you have to let these unanswerable questions go.
Although by no means ‘sorted’, & straight in my mind, ( & if we’re really honest with ourselves- are many of us anyway?), I recently had an epiphany- a realisation that the only way in which we can have a life with a disability after living one that was able bodied, is to find a way to stop mourning the old pre-accident/illness life; (that life where you were an athlete, an avid dancer, mountain biker, surfer or air hostess)- & embrace the life & the possibilities of such that lay before you NOW!
If you are where I was emotionally only a few months ago, then you are no doubt thumping your computer with frustration saying, ‘well what a nice neat little arrangement of positive words there Mrs Reader; but how the hell are you supposed to let go of the aspirations of this old you?
How the hell are you supposed to stop grieving for those things that you lived every moment for, but now can no longer do & simply embrace this alien life that you never imagined in your worst nightmares that you’d be living?’- Well, I wish above all wishes that I had the answers for you. Unfortunately I have simply muddled through along the rocky path that is the route to acceptance, past points over the last few years where I have hurt myself & I even confess to wanting to end my life- what I dream of above all things is that others that will follow in my footsteps, ( & unfortunately there will be many, & they may be any of you reading this that may consider yourself ‘normal’ or able bodied), may be helped by the changes that I hope to bring about with the setting up of my charity or charitable foundation.
When you experience an event in your life, (be it illness or injury), that condemns you to a life with disability; I pray that there will soon be a psychological care infrastructure in place that will guide you through the first months or years of your life with disability, providing you with the emotional support that you will need, in conjunction with the support needed for your spouse, partner or parents should they become your sole carers. I hope that there is also support for your partner & you combined, as no one can fully appreciate the emotional implications that can take place on your marriage or relationship when subjected to a life with a disability.
The truth is that I don’t have any answers as to how I got to this point of acceptance and the place where I can embrace my new existence, but what I do strongly feel is that there must be an easier & more time affective way to get here with the help that I have specified above.
Five years ago my idealistic five year plan would have been to continue flying the world & getting paid to stay in five star hotels & being able to give my family the experiences they could only dream of. I hoped that my wonderful new relationship with my amazingly dashing RAF pilot would continue to grow & flourish to the point that I would hopefully get married & start a family perhaps. I dreamed that I would run the London Marathon by the time that I was thirty, & within those ‘magic five years’, have visited Africa to take part in volunteer work for some of the poverty stricken children in some areas of the continent.
Of these five aspirations for these past five years, I have achieved one point. I am married- & of all the materialistic & superficial desires above, that is clearly & inequitably the most important!
I have somebody that I love & who loves me & that is a much greater blessing than achieving self-imposed measures of success.
I may never achieve such goals again, but I feel that besides having the love & support of my husband, after months & years of severe emotional instability due to my quest to accept the cards dealt to me; the second most paramount element of my life is that I now have the peace & contentment that comes with embracing this life blessed unto me.
Despite all of this, there is still no getting away from the fact that I am human & although feel much better in having a general level of acceptance, there is that fallible part of me that will at times dream those dreams pertaining to my old life, & who will run through my mind the questions of, ‘what if we had set off down that road five minutes earlier or later?’- But I am still learning & evolving with each day that this will not help me live my life.
My dreams & desires for the next five years are, to find out with my condition whether it is possible for Garry & I to have children; to register & establish a charity or charitable foundation that will ensure better psychological support for those who become disabled by any means; & possibly most importantly, to leave behind the aspirations of my old life & evolve new targets in my mind that are possible for the new me. However much is possible I want to stop thinking the ‘what ifs’, & stop mourning that what has gone & embrace that what is to come, whatever shape or form that may be.
Who knows by the next five years I may have achieved these goals; or, life may have thrown me yet another curveball? - The point is that I pledge to strive to accept what I can’t change & embrace that which I can.
Good luck on your own quest to do the same. If you feel it may help you to do so, please share with me your own story so that we may learn from & help one another along this difficult path.
I am endeavouring to establish a forum on my website for this very purpose; please bear with me whilst I try to improve my computer skills as fast as is humanly possible to make this happen!
The thing that has made me smile this weekend is a biggie to me- I have made it through five trying years of the difficult transition into a life that had never even entered my consciousness before the 29th July 2006. I am proud of myself for getting through the previously unimaginable points of this time of self harming & thoughts of suicide. I am proud that I am here today loving life & now loving me however different I may look from the 'me' of five years ago!
I am proud that although I may have lost my physique, my mobility, my career & many physical aspects of my life- I am still blessed with the relationships of my husband, my parents & many of my patient & loyal friends.