by Jenny Addis
Someone close to me has a very similar story to yours, but unlike you, she is giving up. It's been only three years since the car accident that caused her paralysis. I have seen your inspiring website and posts on Facebook and it’s obvious you are living life to the fullest. My friend has a child and so much to live for; I just want to help! How long did it take you to decide to rejoin the world?
~ Anonymous MW Reader
Hey Anonymous MW Reader!
I'd like to say I have a straightforward answer to your question, but I don't. I'll explain...
First, the feelings your loved one is experiencing are only natural. When an individual goes through such a life-altering, traumatic experience, especially being blindsided by it, there is no knowing how that person will react. Everyone deals differently with pain, grief, and loss. Some people are headstrong and determined from the start, while others melt, breakdown and give up. Is there a right or a wrong way to deal with it? In my opinion, no! What matters is how we overcome the stumbling block and what path we then choose.
I remember being in the hospital, for only days, wondering how I was going to face the world, everything and everyone I had ever known in this new and abnormal state; in a wheelchair, as a quadriplegic. The fear was unimaginable and seemed literally unfeasible.
I was only 24 years old when paralysis struck me. My world was turned upside down. I had a great career that I enjoyed immensely. I had amazing friendships and a great family life. Growing up, I wasn't your typical girl, though. I loved styling hair, applying make-up, manicures, dancing, getting all dressed up for a girls night out, but I also loved my red pick-up truck, jet ski, hanging out with my four brothers and getting dirty. At the end of the day, I was loving and living life to the fullest! I went from being a completely independent woman to a woman completely dependent on everyone around me for everything I needed in life.
The night of my car accident, I had thrown a bachelorette party for my future sister-in-law and was enjoying my role as her maid of honor. About three weeks into my hospital stay was the big day. It was touch and go, but the doctor's had approved it and let me attend the wedding. This was my first encounter with the real world without a doctor, nurse or therapist by my side and, honestly, it was one of the hardest days of my life. If I could have, I would've passed on it altogether, but I had to stay true to my promise and commitment, even under the circumstances and regardless of my inner fears.
The real question is...would I have faced the world, so early on, regardless of my promise? I don't know. I do know, however, that without my loved ones, I wouldn’t have gotten through that night.
This same support system has been there for me from day one. It’s their encouragement to my inner spirit that showed me I can live this new life! I'll be honest, though, no matter how much strength and positivity I put forth, it hasn't been the easiest path.
For example, from the beginning, I always had intentions to go back to my career as soon as possible. Unfortunately, I wasn't welcomed back the way I had been originally promised and lost my position. Basically, higher management decided they would take me back, but it was at a different location, in a basement answering telephones, which would alienate me from our customers, visually--nothing even close to the job I was performing for the last six years. When I found out that my livelihood was being taken away from me, I was heartbroken and devastated! I was always career-oriented and loved my job, but most of all, my independence, so losing my job for wrongful reasons was a hard pill to swallow.
As I had mentioned, this journey hasn't been easy. There have been countless instances along the way where I attempted to take a step forward yet was pushed back three. Does it make me tired? Yes! Do I ever feel like giving up? Of course I do. I think we all do, especially when faced with adversity. I want to express to every able-bodied MW reader who may have a loved one facing adversity, especially to this degree: don't give up on them! Your support can help assure them that they're not fighting this fight alone. Please empathize with their situation and don't judge, whether you agree or disagree with how they may be dealing with their adversity.
To every disabled MW reader, please don't give up on yourself. Believe it or not, when faced with this type of adversity, you have a power that no one else has. You have the power to change other's lives, in a positive way. Your strength can give others, disabled and able-bodied, strength. Your optimism can give others hope and a glimpse into a positive and a better tomorrow. I wouldn’t trade these powers for anything!
To this day, it takes a conscience effort to wake up and get out of bed; to live, move forward, all with a good and positive attitude. Ironically, my life today is more fulfilled than ever. I have six nieces and nephews who give me six huge reasons to keep on living and inspire me to be a better person and a positive “roll” model. I want them to be proud of me. I have a very rewarding and amazing career that allows me to change other's lives. Plus, I have met incredible life-changing individuals along the way. I have wasted years of my life terrified at the thought of the world, whether they'd accept or were accepting of me in this condition or not. Today, I embrace it! My attitude is "Hello...World! The wheelchair and my disability equals the new "Me"! Take Me or leave Me, because I'm moving on with or without you!”
"There is no way to run from a hardship. It is what it is…nothing more. Either choose to live life being angry and pessimistic with a hardship or choose a life of happiness and optimism with that hardship. You cannot go back and change your struggles and hardships." ~ Jenny Addis
To read Jenny's previous entry, "Age Appropriate...Or Not!" Go to: http://www.mobilewomen.org/2011/04/hey-jen-age-appropriateor-not.html#more. To find more "Hey Jen!" columns, visitwww.mobileWOMEN.org/heyjen. Remember, nothing is too personal in my book, so send your questions to “Hey Jen!” at: mobileHeyJen@gmail.com! Learn more about Jenny at www.InspirationSpeaks.Me.