Like anyone who has suffered such an unexpected traumatic event, I found my life dramatically changed forever!
I like to compare myself to a giant oak tree that has fallen unexpectedly. Hundreds upon hundreds of roots attached to that tree have become affected and altered. In my case, I felt as though I were that giant oak tree for many years for so many people. I felt that there were so many roots that counted upon me to firmly rise up again. Even though countless people worked on this tree and tried until exhaustion to help, I could not rise! With me on center stage initially, people forgot that there were roots growing from and attached to this tree that were not acknowledged! For some, their deep wounds were not initially acknowledged or addressed—they were “merely” a trauma witnesses to the event and forgotten. I’ve heard the following many times: “You can’t un-ring the bell!” Where there is one traumatic victim of trauma—let it not be forgotten—there are many others entrenched and powerless as well.
The journey to the before and after of my fall and rise has been a very long, painful, and arduous journey - It has also been a remarkable process to experience as I will try and capture within this book. I say process because it's an ever-continuing journey—one I doubt has a final destination. I am unable to pretend I'm complete now. I’m unable to regain my previous life, to sit back and relax. On the contrary, it's a very harsh, knock-ya-back, humbling lesson that life is full of trials, tribulations, divine interventions, expectations, disappointments, improvements, and setbacks. Therefore, it’s a daily process that requires living in the moment and using my own life-learned experiences to make it through each and every day. Even more importantly, it’s a process I’ve come to know well and recognize (through my own lens) in others who have gone through traumas of a similar nature.
While traveling through this journey, I’ve learned a great deal about myself: who I really am, what I’m capable of. I’ve learned from others as well. Each of us copes with trauma in an individual way. I’ve learned valuable insights from those who are processing personal traumas and yet are striving daily for improvement within an incredibly tough mental, emotional, and physical battle. Some heal where improvement is indeed noticeable. I’ve also seen other survivors who have, in a sense, given up and the light is gone!
I’ve found that the trauma survivors who move positively forward and heal are those who can generally place themselves in the drivers’ seats of their own lives. With some mind control, they can look straight ahead in that great, big, directionless windshield called life! In that process, they can do their best to break away from fixating upon that smaller rear-view mirror of life before that reflects their trauma or disability. That rear-view mirror of the past can be such a temptation—it is often just easier than looking forward. This can be reflective of the traumatic event that may also keep one stuck in the past (and thus stuck in a great bed of hopelessness and lifeless mortality). In this case, there is no forward thinking … no forward movement. One needs to take one minute, one step or make one difference at a time and always, always move forward.
It is difficult to stop focusing on the before and after of a trauma (or the trauma of a loved one). The aftermath may be quite obvious physically (and visible to others) or simply known internally—emotionally or mentally. Like me, I imagine you can meander about mentally—looking and thinking at both edges of the road called life—and you can also emotionally, mentally, or physically crash. However, the main focus of this book is to offer the message that it’s vital to stay mindful of your personal value, love existence, remain grateful, and stay straight in the middle of your road of life. There is a life ahead for you to endure … but also one to experience and enjoy! If you can survive any intense trauma, it is my belief and message to you that you also can survive the aftermath as well. Carpe Diem!
In my particular traumatic event, I suffered a severe anoxic brain injury that later became known as post-anoxic action myoclonus (also known as Lance-Adams syndrome).
Initially, I did not record or journal my experiences routinely. I did not think that was the best avenue for me to release any current emotions regarding this experience. In the beginning, I was in complete shock and denial, and I thought I would just simply go home—that my life would return to normal! I didn’t think I would need to review the event.
Later, as my condition persisted and worsened, the idea of expressing my experiences was brought up. I didn’t think I would ever want to reread those traumatic experiences and used that as a means of justification and bargaining. I used that excuse to avoid journaling (or being recorded, for that matter).
In the end, I have been powerless to stop thinking about those very experiences… every day. In the end, I made the choice to write this book! I have been trying to write about these experiences and memories for the past several years, and now I’m doing just that.