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The Crackle of Courage

Mary Singleton

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One of the things I’ve always struggled with is allowing the good stuff to sink in, and I mean that literally…letting it sink in; experiencing it body, mind, and spirit. Being in a position now where my physical body has healed enough to give me the energy to begin to heal mind and spirit, this struggle has been brought to the forefront…and it’s already losing its hold over me. Opening to all the love, prayers, thoughts, and energy generously sent to me and channeling it into healing was step one.

We fully experience life through our spirit, our life force, and that is woven through all parts of our being. (Yoga philosophy approaches this in many ways; one in particular is the pancha maya kosha model.) The brain can suppress certain ways we acknowledge and feel life, but we still hold it in our being. When we open to working with the integrity of our life forces’s cohesive nature, we can fully heal our whole being.

I have spent so many years struggling with depression/anxiety that I abandoned my body. I fled my own sense of embodiment in order to escape the constant gnawing in my belly, vice grip on my heart, and incessant threat of implosion in my head. In doing so, I blocked my body’s ability to acknowledge the love and support that have been gifted to me daily. What I could register logically I suppressed elsewhere, and thus hid myself from the full experience of life.

Part of any trauma is the effect of PTSD whether mild or intense. As I turn to this very real aftermath, my work ahead shows itself in the haunting reality of the incredible force of impact my body undertook, the struggle in accepting the loss of memory, and the guilt for the trauma and trauma recovery of my son and husband. It also includes knowing surviving my injuries was nothing short of a miracle. I hit my thick skull, just missing C1. I broke C2 in such a way that I did not damage or sever my spinal cord, and the break itself stayed in alignment with the rest of my spine. C1 and C2 spinal injuries almost always result in death or full paralysis.

I am alive and I will have full use of my body.

Everyday I commit to never leaving my body again.

Since this accident there are two comments that have consistently thread their way through the well-wishes and support. One is that my “big smile” or “smiling face” is missed. That makes me smile…big. To be seen for my smile allowed me to wake up and see it too. No one has said, “I miss the way you try to control every outcome with your worrying.” A smile has the profound ability to connect and heal. Worrying? Not so much...

The second comment came from loved ones who felt better for setting eyes on me and in response to my last letter. It was seeing me for my “amazing resilience” or “ unbelievable strength”.

Talk about not letting the good soak in. Validated by a history of depression and anxiety, I have spent many years engaged in therapy confronting my ways of experiencing life. I never saw myself as resilient or strong. Its those comments in particular where the imposter syndrome has always reared its ugly head saying, “if only they knew the real you.” Simply put, this isn’t a matter of resilience or strength for me. Its a matter of “what choice do I have?” Wallowing is for the birds. I’ve been given a second chance. A visit from my aunt was the crack I needed to realize it is precisely that approach to life that is a mark of strength.

Having the courage to step into the truth and the resilience to hang in there until the positive change happens deserves the respect I’ve denied myself for so long. She helped me see how important it is to heal all parts of me. Never deny your voice. We can only hear what we need to when we are ready. Her words were backed by years of the same message, but its the first time they sunk in. I wish I could have recorded her words so that I could relay them to you verbatim. Here’s pretty close…

“It’s the people who have the courage to dig through their own shit to find peace that make this world a better place. We all take up space in this world and we have an obligation to recognize and heal those parts of us that are toxic. We all make mistakes and when we realize we keep making the same mistakes, and choose the action that brings us closer to resolving those issues, we become the people that put goodness back into the world. That is how and why one is seen for their love and strength and resilience. Its a choice to face your demons. The strongest of people do.”

We are all gifted with our truth and our own way of speaking that truth. For the first time I heard. For the first time I recognized my own strength. I am resilient and I will continue to grow and heal into the person I am called to be. I am awakening to an acknowledgement of taking things as they come in their own time and embodying the wide spectrum of experiences they offer. I’m finally seeing that who I am is not a struggle to overcome something lost, but a big smile and a strong, resilient heart.

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