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Inspiration for living a luxuriously and balanced life

Monday, August 16, 2010

Who is the Person in the Mirror? - Part of Picking Up the Pieces Mondays

While in the hospital I had caught small glimpses of my reflection on glass windows; but had not registered the toll the injuries had taken on my body, once home access to full length mirrors began to show the reality. A once toned, fit, healthy body had been replaced by one with multiple limitations, a frail frame, T shaped train tracks to nowhere – now decorate my abdomen, while a single track ran down the inside my right arm. My long lush hair ,was now thin short straw like and much had fallen out on the back of my head partially by the time spent in the hospital laying on my back and from the trauma I had sustained to the back of my head. I would later discover that about a thumb length and two thumb widths area would never grow hair again, due to the soft tissue damage in that area.

Aside from the physical changes, the reflection that once showed a healthy glow, full of life person, with dimples that became prominent with every smile or smirk, even teeth, hazel eyes that sparkled and took on a green tone at excitement and extreme happiness was no longer present. In the place of the once ever present reflection was a reflection of sunken cheeks, sallow grayish skin tone, chipped teeth , and expressionless, hunched lifeless image. The tone in my speech had also been affected by the trac– the voice that was once so familiar was also now that of a stranger.
Having been a corporate career driven person, whose appearance had been as important as my abilities to conduct business. Now not only was my ability to process information, speak in a professional manner, tainted – I no longer recognized the reflection in the mirror staring back at me. The realization of the extreme changes in my appearance and ability to express myself sent me crying myself to sleep many nights thereafter.

What I want to share with others;

For those facing a change in their appearance regardless of the cause or degree of change, it can be extremely difficult and self destructing. Especially when their image is/has been so much a part of whom they were/are and how they are received and or viewed by others. Mentally and emotionally it can be as painful and debilitating as physical pain.

Telling someone “You are lucky to be alive, it doesn’t matter what you look like- your looks are only super-facial” or “Now you know how it feels to be out of shape like me” or “If I had the body you had before the accident I would be so happy and try to go out with that guy”– does not help. Trust, me the person knows and is grateful to be alive ~ though well meaning, these statements only reinforce that they are no longer whole. Yes, these were real statements said to me at various times, by different people.

For anyone reading this that is going through a self-image crisis regardless of the reason, if how you present yourself to the world is/has been part of who you were/are, KNOW that you are not being super-facial. The resolution is speaking to a professional(s) and or people who can help you adjust to who you are at the moment and help you build a plan to re-build your self-image – mentally, emotionally and physically.

18 comments:

  1. I will start out that I am glad that you are alive. I do agree with how frightening it would be to wake up a stranger to ones own self. I can only pray that you have found a new you and joy in your new life.

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  2. I think that's probably one of the hardest parts... I mean, I get all freaked out when a spot appears on my face and I can't apply my make-up properly. And that is NOTHING in comparison. I just can't imagine how horrible it must be. Poor you!

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  3. i hope you are doing ok today, and writing this, and reading these comments gives you strength!
    i often wondered how breast cancer survivors feel and face life without one portion of their body...let alone a traumatic accident. it takes strength, courage and a big set of ga-zungas, and from what i know of you already, you have what it takes, lady!!
    i cannot speak at all from a physical sense, but from an insecure, emotional sense, i remember my father used to tell me, "walk in there [ie. anywhere] like you own the place and people will pay attention to you no matter who you are, who you're with or what you're after" --
    heal well, miss high heels!

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  4. Your dog is so cute! :)
    I know it is not the same...You went through so much injury and trauma...Mine was the pregnancies...I was a professional dancer with an amazing body and after 3 kids. I was a beat up body with back aches, 60 extra pounds...Not going to the swimming pool because of how i looked. I have cried a lot over this.
    I am trying to work out and have lost a lot of weight, my body will never be the same...
    SO SORRY you had to go through all this...This is so hard!!!
    Thank you for sharing your story.
    You rock!
    BIG hugs!
    Frenchy

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  5. you are my hero! i have always had the
    utmost sympathy for you after hearing
    about some details. but now, having
    seen what you used to look like, i feel
    like weeping myself.

    it is very much like losing someone you
    love.

    the truth, though, is that your inner self
    is even more beautiful and you are
    encouraging others now who have
    experienced similar losses. you will
    be too lovely to even look at before
    you know it.

    blessings,
    lea

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  6. Just found your blog and looking forward to reading!

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  7. I am so sorry for all of your pain, both physically and mentally. I only hope that somewhere inside, it fills your heart to know that there are people who have never met you, either before or after your accident. They think you are wonderful. We want you to live your life to its fullest and never look let a day go by without finding something to laugh about. Someday soon, I want to see a photo of you with those dimples again. I have always been amazed by them. Big warm New England Hugs to you - Dee

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  8. I just feel with you...! And how mature you are to write what you do! I wish you all luck and pray that you will get stronger and stronger and find happiness and the joy of life back! We will be here following the journey with you! Wishing you a great day! Kristin xo

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  9. I am inspired every time I read your blog, and today was no exception.

    Through tears...
    Teri

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  10. HHL-I'm back for more. Tried your chocolate frosting recipe for my niece's graduation cupcakes. It was a little thin & so I thickened it with add'l powdered sugar--yummy! I can only imagine how it must feel to look in a mirror and see a stranger before you. For those of us who have not experienced such a crisis first hand it is often hard to find the right words. I can certainly see how the above comments would make you feel worse! Please be patient with our ignorance. My prayers are with you on your road to recovery. -Eastlyn http://eastlynandcompany.blogspot.com

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  11. Wow. I find myself not only praying for you, but offering prayers for anyone in a situation like yours - each time I read your posts. There is a special place in the Heaven for people like you.
    xooxox
    Denalee

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  12. i deeply hurt that you had to go through so much and i'm sorry.you are a courageous woman...a blessing to many.

    Lots of love and hugs,
    Ruth

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  13. You amaze me with all that you have been through. Thank you for sharing what has happened and your thoughts. I love your honesty. I know through your writing you are helping so many. I hope by writing it all down that it helps you too.

    Hugs,
    Kat

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  14. Hi
    I also hope that you are ok after revisiting this time, I am shallow and vain. Sometimes I think if I had cancer I would nit have treatment as the thought of looking my hair is so horrific, its my security blanket.. my confidence re grew with my hair. When I was depressed I would cut it to the bone... yup totally fucking barking mad shallow woman speaking. I have so much admiration for you...and I never had a figure as good as yours and never will.. just haven't got the waist xxxx

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  15. Your insight and spirit tell alot about you! You are amazing! I have never been through anything like this myself but have seen others that have had to go through all the adjustments after horrific accidents. Some do not even try to deal with what has happened to them. So I am so happy to see you moving forward!
    Enjoy your day!
    Barb

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  16. I am so glad I found your blog, I think you are voiceing things a lot of people must be feeling. How you look does matter, it matters because it matters to YOU. It is what makes you feel yourself and to have part of that taken away is a very hard thing.
    Virtual hugs x

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  17. You may have lost what you once considered your best attributes (in your opinion), but it appears you have gained so much more. You have been on a heck of a roller coaster my friend but it appears as if you have gained a new strength, maturity, insight and wisdom. Your inner beauty shines through very clearly. Your experience has also given you the ability to help so many other people who are going through or will go through an experience similar to yours. Not only that, but the knowledge you share will also help those who are or will become the caregivers. I have read each post in this series and, in my opinion, you are one heck of an amazing woman.

    You remain in my thoughts and prayers.

    ~ Tracy

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. Know that each one is appreciated and read. Any questions posed in comments in will be responded to via the Reply button below your comment. - Live Life Luxuriously!

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