In the words of Kylie Jenner, this last year for me was the year of realising stuff, and I think in one sense I have made a major breakthrough.
Who we are and our identity is built up in so many different layers and those layers are personal to everyone. Some people may include things that others wouldn’t, and some layers are more important for some than others.
I struggled for the longest time trying to regain or find my identity when I became paralysed. I wanted so much to not have my accident change me, and most importantly define me. I think that I thought that by doing so it was almost a sign of weakness, or of defeat. That in by changing I had in a sense let the injury win.
In the time before my accident I had the strongest sense of self. I was happy in who I was as a person, how I looked, how I was living my life and how I was heading into the future. I didn’t want to lose that, to lose me and just become that girl in the wheelchair.
It took a long time for me to get to a place where I felt happy in who I was again.
Although I had always accepted the injury and I guess the practicalities of it, I was naive to a lot of what was to come. I was in such a rush to be the me I was before my accident, I gave no time or energy in to learning all that was new. I had convinced myself that if I just jumped straight back into everything from before, that I would automatically go back to being fun loving Chloe, college student that’s going to move to London to get her degree, become a hot shot and only come back for Christmas.
But when I realised, pretty soon, it wasn’t going to be that easy I spiralled into depression.
After some time I realised I had to give myself the time to adjust. I started to find ways to take part in the things I had always loved, and embraced the new things I’d discovered.
But most importantly i came to see that my accident, my journey and my disability and the changes it bought weren’t something to fear. I wasn’t changing, but adapting, and there was no weakness in this but only strength.
I learnt that at my core the things that make me who I am would never be lost, because who I am is more than my ability.
I remembered that our experiences in life are something that mould us into the people we become.
And that by identifying as disabled doesn’t mean that is all that I am!
Over the years, at times, I would have these feelings of disappointment, sadness, and frustration that I’d lost a particular part of me.
Before my accident I was the life of the party, a social butterfly. I spent all my free time with friends, and spent every weekend doing something. I was known for my house parties and may have on occasion (every Friday and Saturday) enjoyed a drink, or 12.
Whereas now I like nothing more than being snuggled up in bed with a film, i like my own company as much as I like to be around others. I prefer tea to alcohol, and I think I’ve lost the ability to get horrendously drunk because my subconscious kicks in and tells me that if I have another drink I’m going to thoroughly regret it in the morning.
I blamed all these changes on my disability for the longest of times, and its those feelings that at times would make me really struggle with things.
I just thought that because of this I wasn’t necessarily living my life as full as I would have prior to my accident.
Then this year, in some kind of light bulb moment I just kinda realised a lot of these changes have just come from growing up. Yeah I may have missed out on a few extra years of being a messy teenager, but I was 16 when I had my accident, and that part of me I thought I lost because of my disability, is the crazy teenager we kind of all lose, because we get older.
I in no way believe that that part of my identity from when I was 16 would still be a part of my identity now if I hadn’t had my accident.
This realisation for me has been that final piece of the puzzle and allowed me to be free of those cares that I’m somewhat not living my best life anymore because my interests have changed.
I finally have that sense of self again, fully.
And the know that change will come again and with it I will evolve.
Love, C x