Rehabilitation and revelations: 6 months on from ‘that’ fall :: by Jess Caire
It’s almost been six months since that day in PNG. That day still visits my thoughts once or so a week, which is considerably better than the three to four times a day in the months immediately following my accident. I’ve accepted it won’t ever go, and that my life changed that day, I changed that day.
I feel different than I did before, slower inside, more aware of my body and the messages it sends me. I also feel a slight sense of grief for the old me, as I embark on the journey to get to know new me.
New me doesn’t care about a lot of stuff old me cared about, and that’s ok, it’s just new.
And as much as I announce my love of change, it’s still scary for me. New me is more passionate about the things I cared for before. New me cares less for the things I barely cared about before. I’ve let go of some the expectations I think the world had of me. I’ve made my circle closer, tighter and full of people that make me feel good and alive and happy. I don’t feel guilty about not wanting to be dragged down any more by the petty, judgy stuff.
I still struggle with that moment – the quiet of hanging not knowing my fate, but being comforted by the calm, then jolted back to reality, panic, noise, hospitals, bed rest, sleep deprivation, rehab, specialists, learning to live with pain and wearing it so familiarly it’s like a handbag. I find it hard to talk about the actual incident without my blood running cold and my body being taken back to that day, so I find myself just not talking about it. Nothing you prepares you for just how you feel in these moments. And it’s very hard not to judge those feelings. There is a little piece of you that defines a large part of you – that you share with so few, and yet it has shaped you into who you are today. When you think you have a handle on all this ‘new’, you’re quickly reminded this is a false sense of security. I was ok, I had been telling myself and anyone who cared to ask I was… But I wasn’t. My first reminder of this was when we drove to Mount Hotham three months ago, winding up the hills, the burnt foliage from the bushfire was starting to sprout, covering the side of the steep ravines like the carpet of the jungle floor. At first I didn’t realise I was sweating or my heart was beating so fast it felt like it would leap out my chest. And then I cried, long, hard banked-up tears, burning my cheeks, and my brain telling me to breathe deeply to calm down, no air was coming in but a lot was coming out (snot, tears and a whole lot of letting go).
That day I realised I needed to face my feelings, especially the ones that hurt, the ones that had been sitting at the pit of my stomach. I needed to feel how I felt and not try and bury it. I needed to be ok with not being ok and to acknowledge the enormity of the experience I had endured and survived and just “let it be”. I am not a “let it be” kind of gal, I am a ‘deal with it and move on with it, get shit done’ kind of gal. The frustration to let it be almost drove me mad, but I knew in my heart of hearts not dealing with it now and moving on would down the track be the undoing of me.
I want to share with you some of the things I’ve learned as I’ve allowed myself the space to grieve old me and get to know the new me and to let things “be”…
1. The universe sends us messages, warning signs. Clearly I was ignoring the subtle ones, so it threw a pearler my way – a heart-stopping, slap in the face. But a glorious and very rare second chance.
2. The more I follow my own path and connect with who I am the further away from some people I find myself. I find myself closer to people I was further away from before.
3. Don’t judge the process, allow your feelings to be there without judgment and criticism. Your journey is yours, and not everyone will get that, and that’s ok.
4. Take your time – don’t expect people to understand your situation when you are unable to process it yourself just yet.
5. Give less fucks, care more about the things you love and less about the things that you only just care about (either through outward or inward expectation)
6. See things more for what they are and less for how they should be. This is a lesson I feel so grateful to have learned, when we accept things for how they are rather than how they should be, we let go of so much weight
7. Keep your circle tight and close,quality far outweighs quantity, find your people and love them hard and let them in.
8. Grit, resilience, determination and courage does not discriminate, we all have it in us, we all have the capacity not only to overcome adversity, but to thrive and grow in the depths of it.
That day etched in my memory is becoming less of a terrible accident and more of an awakening. An opportunity to embrace who I am and to find comfort in loving the new me, learning to be patient and that you cannot rush a process if your head and heart aren’t in it together.