One of the most challenging circumstances to be in life is to be stuck between a rock and a hard place. Or as I like to say, a rock and a rock. Rocks possess not an ounce of give and keep you stuck exactly as you are. This is a scary place to be, because how can you improve your circumstances if nothing can change? Whether it be about finances, or relationships or work, if you have no options, where can you go, what can you do except to stay trapped? You feel a loss of control, utterly helpless, and you are a victim whose only hope of getting saved is by some random stroke of luck, such as winning the lottery or having someone come into your life and take care of all your challenges for you. So what is there to do except stay as you are, plod on, and accept that this is just the way things are going to be.
At 21 years old, I won the lottery, but not the conventional kind with seven or eight digits to the left of the decimal point. Caught me completely by surprise (obviously), totally unexpected… what are the chances?! I am 41 now, and I can honestly say the last 20 years have been a life only imagined in my wildest dreams. On February 7th, 1994, two of my girlfriend and I were on our way out for a fun night on the town when we were in a car accident that resulted in me sustaining a broken neck and a spinal cord injury, which would paralyze me for the rest of my life. As I laid in the hospital, initially on a respirator, slowly learning what it meant to have a spinal cord injury, I felt a rock and a rock settle themselves around me. Boulders, more like. How would it be possible for me to have any type of meaningful life like this? I had control over nothing… I couldn’t move my body, I couldn’t feel my body, I couldn’t feed myself, my voice was a whisper, I couldn’t even go to the bathroom by myself. And this was permanent, there was never any dispute about that. The medical community just didn’t know how to fix me, and they still don’t. The thought of one day looking back on my life and feeling it was miserable because I spent most of it in a wheelchair terrified me. Even more so than my actual injury did. What a waste of a life… I had no wish to simply be a survivor, I had to be a thriver. I was an all or nothing girl, I always had been and this injury did not change that. With no control over anything, how was I going to be me? I was in a dark place, and at times I felt the panic rise up in me so powerful that I was sure I would simply cease to exist. Somewhere in those dark hours, a miracle suddenly happened. Out of nowhere, a voice in my head told me I had still had choices. I had to have the courage to change my perception to see it, but they were there and they were endless. That realization is the lottery that came out of nowhere and saved my life.
Today, almost twenty years later, I lead a happy, healthy, busy, interesting life, filled with people I love and who love me. Do I go through challenging times? Absolutely. Do I still feel between a rock and a rock at times? Absolutely. But I know there are always choices I can make to change my circumstances for the better. The bigger the challenge, the harder it is to see the choices; but I know they are there, so I look until I find them. My biggest challenges in life stems from issues related to being dependent on a wheelchair, but everyone has challenges they deal with every day… Mine may be easier to imagine because my wheelchair is easy to see, but what’s your wheelchair?