I thought that by now, with less pressure and less stress in my life I would be happily curled up and asleep at 2am, but apparently it’s a good time to write. It’s quiet here and just leaves me alone with my thoughts. It’s nights like this were I’ve tried everything your supposed to do that I just turn to writing instead, which some people will nag ‘the light of your computer will wake you up more!’ but honestly nothing’s getting me to sleep right now. I don’t like mentioning or talking about the pain in my spine still bothering me but lately it hasn’t been at it’s best. I’ve been sat in a very rigid chair for about 10 hours a day for the past few weeks, for anyone’s spine that would cause problems, for mine it’s hell. So while I’m trying to wait for the second lot of painkillers to kick in I thought, why not let my mind wander, see where I end up.
I’ve been trying to fall asleep for a few hours so a lot has been going through my head, just thoughts zipping past like cars on a motorway. One keeps coming back to me though, I suppose it’s because of an essay I was writing today, I can’t seem to escape the bloody things even when they’re done! I was thinking that pain, in all it’s forms is something that makes us human. When a person is in so much pain, mentally or physically, they will let go of what they thought they knew, sometimes of their opinions and prejudices, all that matters is stopping that pain, unless you are incredibly stupid that is. Great pain is a humbling experience. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you come from or anything like that pain and fear make us all the same, because it is.
I’m a true believer that once someone has experienced true pain in their lives it will change them for good. For some people it will make them bitter, angry, resentful. For others pain makes them appreciate more, try and be more compassionate and understanding as a person. For a long time after my spine broke I would be angry, I’d be filled with tears and hatred that my body had let me down. Thousands of people fell off horses all day, why did it happen to me! Why did the doctors risk it! Why did my notes keep getting lost! I was miserable and honestly the anger was just making me more tired, more sad. I’m not saying people aren’t allowed that time, of course they are. In the words of John Green ‘pain demands to be felt’, I know I needed that time because I was so upset and heartbroken and unsure of the future. If you were told that there was a chance you might just lose the ability to walk by trying to walk (and do the one thing that would make you better in the long run), wouldn’t you be?
I held on to the pain and frustration for a long time, I was convinced that I was just a burden and there was no point to anything when it took me so long to take a few steps, when going out somewhere meant having to take my wheelchair or that I had to sit while everyone else could stand. I wish I could tell you there was a wonderful eureka moment where I let go of it all, where I just went ‘ok, enough is enough let’s get on.’ I was always carrying on but after time and after I learnt what my body needed and how to start managing the pain I felt a little calmer, a little more able to deal with the world.
I would never wish my injury on anyone, the fact that it’s causing me to be awake at 2am the day before my final deadline because of physical pain is not a fun thing BUT I do believe that it’s made me into a better person. The injury taught me more than I would have believed it could. I quickly learnt that life was what you made of it when you got given something shitty. I learnt that as much as I wanted to organise everything for the next 30 years I couldn’t. I learnt that life is a mess a terrifying, wonderful and always evolving mess and you just fit in where you can. I realised I was allowed to take a break and not be this built up image of ‘perfect’ I’d associated with myself. Am I annoyed that I might not get the first I worked for because of the early days of fuzzy pain? Of course I am. Am I going to let it taint my whole university experience, final year and the progress I have made? No. Likewise I learnt what I need in friends and that I can be alone comfortably more than I give myself credit for. I learnt that I can handle a lot more than I can give myself credit for and that while my body might not look like a magazine cover, it’s mine and it’s actually a pretty amazing thing. Being in horrific pain lead me to most of this, which is something so strange to me. Either way, the past is the past and my future is my future so I’m going to see what I can do with these experiences and be the best person I can be.