I thought I would get married when I was about 28. Instead I woke up in hospital with a shaved head, no skull and no idea where I was. I was told that a young man had run a red light and crashed in to the side of my car. The impact was so severe I was induced into a coma and my skull was removed to help stem the bleeding.
The removal of my skull also meant the removal of my waist length hair and any dignity I had left. I had amnesia for 31 days after the accident and had no filter on my thoughts or words. It didn’t matter at the time because I didn’t even know who my mother was. When I was moved out of ICU and into rehab, I couldn’t walk, speak or even swallow food.
When I could finally swallow food, I tried to rid myself of it as I had tried to rid myself of an eating disorder that had been hanging around since my teens but no one cares about that when there is a brain to be fixed. I had lost control of every aspect of my life.
I’d like to tell you that I made a miracle recovery and all the medical staff will tell you that I did. But depression, shame and loneliness shadowed my life. The final blow was when I sat a vision test after my accident, failed it, was declared legally blind and ordered to surrender my driver’s license.
I was ashamed of my body, my missing skull, my failing memory, and my new disability. I punished myself with celibacy, too terrified to be naked.
And yet, I still loved life. Loved music, books, food, travel and friends. Three years after my accident, I hiked to Everest Base Camp and a year later graduated with a Masters degree. I loved these things and they kept me alive but they also became an escape for me. In 2016, I was hospitalised with severe dehydration as my body broke down in exhaustion.
To recover, I connected with a beautiful therapist and I became aware of my self-talk. It wasn’t pretty. I was so unkind to myself. In the process of rewiring my brain, I forgot to rewire my heart. I had no self-love, and it had been that way since my early teens.
So I decided to change my life. I moved out of the city to the beach. I slowed down my mind and body with the help of a community of women healers and made amazing new friends. By slowing down, I reconnected with life.
Through self-care, I found self-love. And that was when I met my soul mate at the local gym. After 20 years of being single, travelling the world and never stopping to smell the roses, I found him on the same street I lived on.
There are always new pathways to peace and prosperity. But always start at the heart.
Photo is available for free publication https://www.flickr.com/photos/ohhbetty/4487197017