How clear is your memory of very difficult times in your life? Memories fade. Bad memories are often locked away in our mind.
We often try to fill in the gaps in our ability to recall details of our lives. Photographs help to capture a moment in time. Videos portray longer periods of time, adding the detail of motion and sound.
Recently I watched video tapes from two years ago. I have put off watching these tapes until now. I knew that the emotions elicited would be intense.
It was during the worst time of my life. Days and nights that drug on minute by minute. Painful times, suffering through physical and mental torture. The video was taken in the hospital, two weeks after I was injured by a falling tree. I was paralyzed from the waist down due to a spinal cord injury. My back and neck were broken and sternum and ribs fractured.
The camera captured views of my body that I was not able to see at the time. The video tape clearly showed the staples which held the long surgical incision closed along my spinal column, bruises and cuts on my legs, eye and arms. As I watched and listened to my own voice as I described what I was experiencing, I could see the pain on my face and hear the fear in my voice. My future looked uncertain. At that time, I could not imagine what life would be like after having my life changed in an instant.
It was a very emotional experience to watch myself on these tapes. I had forgotten what the pain was like and how movement below my waist was impossible. Hearing my own voice as I was going through the experience brought a flashback to me.
One section of the video showed how I slid across a narrow board from the mattress to the wheelchair in order to get out of bed. I had forgotten how long this procedure took me to learn. It all seemed so difficult, so foreign. At that time I wore a neck and torso brace. In order to move my legs, I pulled up on a strap that was wrapped around my thighs.
As I looked back on these experiences, I realized how far I have come in my recovery. The bones mended, the neck and torso brace were temporary. Many muscles gained strength enabling me to occasionally walk with leg braces and crutches. The bruises are no longer visible and the incision is healed.
I recommend that we all look to the darker days in our past. Looking back can teach you lessons. You grow to be different in some way. Looking back can bring closure to the experiences and put your progress in a spotlight. We should look at our accomplishments, victories and successes. Insightful reflections about the past can help us to realize the power of our resilience.
One never knows how strong our spirit to rebound is until a crisis hits. Sooner or later another crisis, adversity or major setback will occur. As we remember what it took for us to recover from the last crisis, we are more able to model our behavior in order to react quicker and draw upon our inner strengths.
Experience teaches us how to be survivors.
To book Rosemarie Rossetti, Ph.D. to speak at a conference, contact her at: (614) 471-6100; www.rosemariespeaks.com
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