FEELING SAFE BY LETTING GO
In the 26 years since my car accident I have travelled a long road of self-development. Spinal cord injury has a way of forcing you to travel that path, sometimes whether you’re ready for it or not! I have finally come to the realisation that the more I am able to let go of fear, assumptions, pre-conceived ideas or basically for a better word ‘baggage’ the more I feel secure and safe in who I am. By letting go I have come closer to the authentic me and it is when I am authentic that I feel the safest and most at peace. This is when I am most courageous to take on the world and follow my dreams.
This process has taken time and a desire to constantly try to understand why I do the things I do. I remember the early days when my injury required me to be in control of how I manage my day-to-day. The lack of consistent accessibility around Sydney back in 1990 meant that every outing had to be planned and organised and all possible outcomes catered for. Partly because of need but mostly due to fear. Fear of the unknown and the unexpected, fear of what ifs?
It makes me smile today to realise that it is the unknown and the unexpected that actually inspires and drives me to go these days. To put myself in uncomfortable positions consciously and knowing I can swim at the deep end. To go out there, find the challenges and face them head on with an inner knowing that I will be fine at the other end. I survived a near death experience and I am still here to talk about it… there must be a bigger reason for all of this to happen!
(Photo: Day Spa onboard The Rhapsody of the Seas, cruising Australia and South Pacific, December 2013)
Immediately post injury it was all about re-defining who I am now. Not that I really had established a life with a definite path at the age of 18 but even my Year 12 yearbook aspirations of working in hotel management, moving between multinationals and satisfying my passion for travelling the world all had to be re-evaluated once I was told I would never walk again.
I HAD A SELF-PERCEPTION CRISIS.
The person looking at me in the mirror now wasn’t who I remembered. ‘Who am I now?’ I wasn’t the ex-high school student going on to uni to study and carve out the career I had planned for myself. I certainly wasn’t the high school teen back at school. I didn’t belong back there although that is where I still identified myself and felt most connected to.
The reality of not being able to do the things I had dreamed of in the way I originally thought they would be done was confronting. It was a period of being in limbo and wondering where to from here. Today I realise that this was when I was put on the road of ‘letting go’. Bit by bit I had to let go of the old and accept the new and once accepted then letting go again continuously, to peel the onion and get to the real authentic core of me deep down. I’m still on this journey I don’t think it ever ends.
I was letting go along the way but I was also reinforcing some of those walls that were always there and now needed to be overcome in a new way. Where I used to think it was safe to hide behind the emotional barriers that I built up over the years, it is moments and people in my life that have challenged me and made me focus. To sit within that fear and just endure the discomfort always knowing that it will work out in the end.
I don’t know why I have always believed that it would work out in the end. I guess my positive disposition has helped but also having a deep connection to a higher source. I am not religious in the traditional sense by any means but I do think my faith has deepened since my injury. I turned inwards when I didn’t think I belonged anywhere. Some days I still don’t think I fit in any particular box, the difference today is that I see this as being unique and inspiring instead of embarrassing and confusing. I am owning my individuality with pride these days. Let’s face it I wouldn’t be sharing with you all if I wasn’t!
My journey of letting go has entailed many workshops, forums, books and speeches about self-discovery and motivation to be my authentic self. I have craved wanting to understand myself and how I fit in to this world. How my errors and successes have defined me and given me the life skills I have today. My 40s have made me realise that the safest place to be is out in the open, with nothing to hide and being true to myself. It is only by letting go of control that you ultimately gain a grip on your life because this is where the safe place is to be who you truly are. The mirror is reflecting the true me and now there are a lot less barriers to hide behind.