Today marks six months since I was hit by a car while riding my motorcycle.
I’ve written a good bit about this ordeal so far and again I find myself uncertain how much to share. In fact, I had a very different version of this post almost completely crafted. Then two days ago, my dear friend Sarah sent me a link to a TED Talk that sent those words into the virtual trash bin.
The big picture is that six months into recovery, I’m now settling into the permanent impacts… the things that I am sentenced to for the rest of my life due to the carelessness of another person. The laundry list of what I deal with now, and will for the rest of my life, are not what I’d like to share today. But they are both physical and emotional. And substantial.
The saying goes that a picture is worth a thousand words. But for the thousand words in those pictures that appear to shout success as you see me off on another adventure or out riding my motorcycle again, there are many more thousands of words unsaid. What those images don’t express is that it’s infinitely more difficult to accomplish these things. And they certainly don’t show what I’m not doing and the opportunities I have to pass up as a result of my injuries. They don’t show what it’s like to recover from a trauma, a violation of your body and your life.
So even though I’ve recovered a large chunk of my life, the truth is it will never be the same. My life and my body are forever altered, my abilities diminished. Permanently. It’s very hard to accept.
The “why” of this is one of the most difficult issues to navigate. This wasn’t a fluke, an accident, or drawing the short straw in life. It was a choice made by another human being. That makes it a different experience than something like my tumor. The hurt and insult run so much deeper. My life as I knew it was suddenly taken from me by a random stranger.
Then she tormented me with a not guilty plea, dragging out the legal process. In doing that, she showed me that she wasn’t done hurting me. And I suffered another violation at her hands. Yet she gets to go about her life and I’m left to try to put mine back together.
Psychotherapist Esther Perel says that “Healing begins when the perpetrator acknowledges his or her wrong-doing.” The woman who hit me didn’t do that. In fact, she did the opposite. I’m left facing a horrific violation and in search of an alternative way to find peace after the trauma she inflicted on me.
Which is why this TED Talk resonated with me. It’s helped me calibrate my personal experience with trauma, shift my path toward finding a different kind of closure, and move forward in an existence that doesn’t feel like I’m serving a life sentence when I’ve committed no crime at all.
Beyond the context of my circumstances, Joshua Prager’s message applies to all of us in one way or another. It’s a worthwhile 20 minutes. I hope you get as much from it as I did.
So as I begin to craft the story of my life from this point on, I urge you once again to please take care out in the world. Don’t be the person who does this to someone.