Finding Your Good Life After (Insert-Your-Tragedy-Here)

3 comments

Don’t give up now
chances are
your best kiss
your hardest laugh
and your greatest day
are still yet to come.
           -Atticus

But what if they aren’t? What if everything in my life was better before paralysis? Maybe I had my best kiss, my hardest laugh and my greatest day—all of my best memories—before this injury became a part of who I am. How could I possibly have a best-of-anything-moment now that I have this disability? Everything was better before. 

What if I believed all that? 

What if I truly believed I could never experience the best of anything now that I am disabled. That perspective could set me up for a somewhat depressing and overall limited existence—a life I certainly have no desire to live. But there are many people out there with a distinct before-and-after in their life. People who feel stuck in their after, confident that everything good was left in their before.

So many people that have a disability hate being called inspirational. I get it. It seems as though simply leaving the house when you have a visible disability is reason for someone to use the I-word. 

Thank-you kind stranger but I’m at the grocery store because my children get really hangry when left unfed… As do I. 

The weird thing is, if I don’t fill up my gas tank, my car doesn’t work.

My kids are playing on the playground. And I’m looking at my phone. Literally all I did was bring them here.

But for all of the people I know who have taken their life back after it was turned upside-down and found ways not only to master the most mundane tasks of daily living but to discover the best of what their life has to offer, I also know there are people who did not. And I think that is where those of us who find frustration in being called inspirational for seemingly insignificant details of our lives, need a bit of a reality check. 

As much as I wanted to believe that everyone accepts their after I’ve learned that many people do not. There are people who do not think they have the potential to experience their best anything after loss/illness/injury/insert-your-tragedy-here. There are people that venture through their after without passion, goals or even a will to live. People that choose to never leave the house. There are people that give up. And not being one of those people is, I’m sorry to say it, kind of inspirational.

Choose to be someone who still sees promise in their own life. Complain less. Seriously. If there is one thing that makes me absolutely crazy since my injury, it is listening to people complain about things they have the power to change. See your own potential and surround yourself with people who help you to reach it. And, most importantly, embrace the idea that there is still so much to add to your own personal highlight reel. There is always a possibility that something great is just about to happen and while life might not look like you want it to, it can still be a good time.

3 comments on “Finding Your Good Life After (Insert-Your-Tragedy-Here)”

  1. Wow, Cody – this is really what I needed to read today! I’ve always been a wheelchair user (contracted polio at 6 weeks old) and have had no problems with that. It was the only life I knew, so I just figured out how to get things done, went to college, got a job, got married, etc. Things were fine. Me & my wheelchair were good with the world! Then I was diagnosed with breast cancer about a year and a half ago. I definitely have my “before” and “after”. Pretty much all I think about and that is NOT good nor who I want to be.

    It’s hard to think I’ll still have my best anything….that’s where I am, though. I am working hard to regain my old “normal” and hope to get there! Maybe today I’ll just head out and do some regular normal stuff. And maybe tomorrow I’ll try again. I do not want to stay in this place for the rest of my life and I do know it’s up to me. Thanks for the eye opener!

    (Bonus – even though I’ve always been a chair user and have done fine, I have picked up many tips & new thoughts from reading your blog for quite a while now. Thanks for that – you’re a great writer & I appreciate your sharing as much as you do!)

    Liked by 1 person

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