I’ve walked away from four car accidents, two bicycle accidents, a gymnastics incident that tore my ACL, multiple broken bones, ankle sprains, dog bites, falls, cuts, and gashes. I thought everyone experienced injury as much as I did.
Accidents seemed like a normal part of having a body. But as I got older, I realized that some of us were more accident prone than others. Some had one accident that scarred them for life. Some never broke a bone or tore a ligament. And some had cuts but never scarred. I am not one of those people. I have injured my body more times than I’d like to admit, and yet I healed each and every time. I was stronger, more flexible, and more willing to experience new things than I was before any of these accidents occurred.
I recently heard of someone in my community who was just in a very bad car accident. She asked for support, advice, and reminders on how to heal. And while everyone may need different things, I wanted to reflect on what has worked for me and offer the practices and tools that helped me after an accident. But first here’s what I know about injury:
• The trauma of an accident can linger deep within you even if you’ve recovered physically. The trauma of an accident can linger deep within you, even if you’ve recovered physically. The body is complex; recovery isn’t only about recovering a range of motion, being weight-bearing, or being pain-free.
• Healing from an injury requires all of your bodies to participate (i.e., the energy body, spiritual body, moving body, emotional body, subtle body, and the dream body). If you don’t already communicate with these bodies within you or believe they exist, healing can be harder.
• No two people will ever heal the same way, even if they experienced a similar accident or were even in the same accident; therefore, in order to heal, you must create your own medicine. Gather the resources, people, and practices to support, nurture, and release what is rising up and/or falling apart within you.
• Fear is your FRIEND. Yes, you heard me right. Fear. I know we usually talk about how awful fear is and that we should drink our juice and wear fun colors and put on pink lipstick and eat kale and dance away all our fears. But fear, especially after an accident, has a very good purpose. When you’ve had a full recovery, you will release your fear. You will be able to ride the bike, or drive the car, or do the thing you were doing when the event happened. But after an accident, we’re terrified to engage in the thing, and rightly so. Fear in this instance is containing you. It is holding you within your own body so that you can excavate, learn, and come close to the face of fear and what fear brings up for you specifically. When you’ve become intimate with your own undeniable brand of fear, then you can set it free. This is one of the most important layers in the process of healing. You let fear IN. Then you let it go.
• You will probably need more support than you think. Most of us are hardwired to get up when the going gets you down, keep on keeping on, and push through no matter what. If you tend to be the kind of person that really knows how to give yourself a generous amount of self-care, then please ignore me. Maybe you don’t need more support than you think. But in my experience, most of the people I know are severely lacking in the self-love arena. As soon as the swelling subsides or the adrenaline has passed through, we return to status quo. Listen up, my friend. Accidents suck. I wish they never happened. But the truth is that they do happen and they happen unexpectedly or rather accidentally. Please give yourself time and space to really explore what your body needs. Your body will always let you know—if you listen.
I’ve been stubborn in my own healing, which is probably why I started on the path of healing and wellness. It was so far from what I thought and what I believed in. But once I integrated my own wellness, healing came.
I’ll have you know that I did not choose any of these practices when I was injured. It only came to me after I realized that I needed way more support and acknowledgment of my injury than I had ever given myself. Here’s my resource list for post-injury wellness. It’s not complete by any means, but has been crucial on my path to healing.
• Flower essences
• Sound healing
• Painting and collage
• Baths, hot springs
• Working with herbs
• Creating a solo show