Discussing life with a friend the other day, he commented on how much I have changed. This was particularly encouraging because he wasn’t referring to me pre- and post-accident, he was observing the growth he’s seen in the roughly four years that we’ve known each other. In the past few months especially, I feel like I’ve been coming into my own or, as I refer to it, I’ve been “filling out nicely”.
The idea of filling out is perhaps a little more apt, for it implies that things weren’t full at one point, that there was something lacking. As things settle once again, I have felt major pieces falling into place and filling out the person I am. It’s counterintuitive that a separation, a process admittedly saturated with loss and sadness, can still evoke a sense of completion and even hope. This puzzling dynamic, I think, speaks to the immense needs I alluded to in the previous post, and it is something both Anya and I have felt.
My car accident happened almost nine years ago, when I was a junior in university. I had finally decided on a major (Communications/Film) and looked forward to putting my talents and abilities to the test (my hunch was that I would do pretty well). With clear goals now in sight, new values and priorities were going to determine how I spent my time, who I would connect with, and ultimately what my life would look like. I alone would be responsible for these things, and I alone would have to (get to?) live with the consequences.
There is a comforting sense of independence that comes with choosing the path you want to follow and successfully arranging your values and priorities to do so. It is affirmation and confirmation of the individual you’ve become, a testament to your dedication, and, I believe, an integral part of one’s self-image and, therefore, self esteem. Unfortunately, I missed out on this opportunity, and a significant part of my personal development was cut short as a result. Instead, all my energy was focused on putting a life back together for myself, one with the best shot at joy and fulfillment. And the fact of the matter is that this was also true of Anya – her efforts joining, inspiring, and amplifying my own, at the cost of delaying her own personal pursuits and development.
Today, the stress and trauma of my accident have faded, the cognitive deficits have long been accepted and accounted for, and my energy is no longer spent managing the minutiae of daily life. Today I can focus on finding that path I want my life to follow, I can make up lost ground, and I can start filling out.
We both can.