Naked, I am standing sideways, gazing into the mirror. My head is slightly tilted and I stare blankly at the slight curvature of my spine. I run my fingers lightly over the scar tissue that now brands my body, dividing my back directly down the center. Lost in thought, I shake the self-pity from my mind. A horrible incident has physically left its’ negative mark upon me. Yet, internally, its’ positive mark can be found in the woman I am in this moment. I am alive. I have been blessed with the gift of life to live another day. I avidly believe the only experiences people should regret are the ones they have not yet had.
I have come to learn individuals too often live with remorse and disappointment in their actions or experiences. “I wish things had gone differently,” are words that should be used carefully. Regret can plague the human mind, trapping one in a world of dwelling on the past and not making the most of the present. Although many experiences that take place cannot be helped and seem unfair, they should never be seen as negative. Making the most out of every obstacle and finding the good in situations is a must for excelling in life. With each irresponsible action I commit, wrong word I say, and depressing misfortune I encounter, I remember the night I was transformed to become a person who appreciates all happenings and outcomes within life.
It happened so fast. There is no other way to describe it. I had no time to think, react, or scream. As two bright lights hit the corner of my eye, the car violently jolted into an unbounded new direction. I recall the intense pressure from the seat belt on my hips, and viewing the smoking airbags that hung from the front console. The windows adjacent to me had shattered and the door now concaved, informed me the car frame was intensively distorted.
Every breath I took was a heaving moan. From my shoulders to my thighs, excruciating pain consumed me; a pain so unfathomable I was past the point of tears. Strange emotions of fear, loneliness, and discomfort swayed my mood as I sat unmoving. My soul seemed separate from my body and my mind loitered separately from reality. It felt like death was trying to overcome my existence and pull me into dark and exhausted depths. Yet, I was calm. My chest grew tighter and breathes short and lifeless. Powerless and incapable of fighting, I sat in a dazed silence ready to give up.
I was suddenly brought back into physical awareness with a burst of air from an oxygen mask. Paramedics were struggling to bring my body out of shock. The deeper the breath, the worse the pain. I fought the oxygen as long as possible, but I had to breathe. I had to give into the grief. Tears were discharged from my burning eyes and slid down my cheeks. With an intense prick, a thick needle slid into the bulging purple vein of my arm. A stinging sensation ran ramped through my veins. A plastic brace was clasped around my feeble neck. I did not know the hands that cared for me, but trusted them with every respect.
With medicine being pumped into my body, my thoughts and senses were numbed. Yet, as firemen began to cut away the contents of the car in order to remove me, sick vibrations were sent through a broken wrist, broken ankle, and three broken vertebrae. I repeatedly clenched my fists until tender bruises appeared on my palms. From this point on my memory began to deteriorate.
I awoke to a steady beeping and a dimly lit hospital room. My days and nights was strung together by nurses, damp aching sweats, and morphine cravings. The world seemed to nonchalantly pass me by as my body fought to recover. The surgery I had consisted of three bone fusions and the placement of eight screws and two rods along my spine. I could not yet appreciate the fact I was still alive. I could only tell myself what had happened was unfair. The hospital environment encouraged my pity. Being surrounded by the sick and morbid environment, I was overwhelmed by depression. It was not until I was sent home to recover in familiar surroundings that I realized I had changed positivity from my experience.
As each day progressed, the pain lessened. Although my entire disposition had plummeted into a period of darkness, hope was brought back into my life with my homely environment contributing to my rediscovery of happiness. With my family and friends showing support and love, I realized how grateful I had been. Living in pain and relying on medications hid my mind from the truth that my accident was a pure blessing. Each day I had to state the positive facts to myself to keep from the distraction that my life had experienced a complete metamorphosis. I was lucky I was not paralyzed. I was lucky I had family by my side. I was lucky I did not die.
From this point on, I was able to create my own theories. In living life without regret, I had to live life through acceptance. I knew the only way I could improve my life was to not waste any more time regretting my inconveniences. I learned when I let go of regret, the positive consequences of an experience could be recognized only to refine personal characteristics.
Through my hardship, I gained the knowledge to live life to its highest potential. I can understand the value of each breathe, each blink, and each new morning. Through my eyes, life has now become precious and fragile. I now value aspects I once took for granted. The idea of love and compassion took on an entire new meaning and I began to show my affection for people more openly. I now express exactly how much I cherish their worth because I subconsciously fear one day it may be too late. Although I had family and friends pulling me through a recovery, I was responsible for developing my own happiness and my own well-being. Knowing I conquered the challenge of fighting depression and remorse, my independence and self-confidence were boosted and gave me the idea I can take on any of life’s unexpected events. Despite pain, depression, and the back problems that will trouble me in later years, I would not take the experience back for anything. Nothing can stand in my way. I am now strong.
I understand it may not be easy for all people to live without regret, because not all have had an altering trauma. Yet, the logic can be found. Trying to regret events obviously comes after the event takes place. Therefore, what took place already occurred. Changing what happened cannot be done. Embracing all consequences positive or negative was my only way out. In the third part of the ever famous Serenity Prayer, the words express, “grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change”. I believe living by this truly beneficial line will deeply improve life philosophy.
A new day brings new obstacles. Focusing on the future and the present contributes to personal growth. The future will bring individuals face to face with an eclectic variety of experiences and it may take time to see the positive outcome of consequences. It took me months to even understand and acknowledge that what had happened to me was wonderful. By coping with an experience through patience and acceptance, I created a positive future. If it was not for each mistake, each crazy time, each beautiful moment, and each unexpected mishap, the women I view gazing back in the mirror would consist of an immensely unfamiliar individual.