7

I’m sure it could be safer to stay at home

It was a catch-22: If you didn’t put the trauma behind you, you couldn’t move on. But if you did put the trauma behind you, you willingly gave up your claim to the person you were before it happened.”
― Jodi Picoult

Two days ago on January 24th I put on some roller skates and skated in circles for about an hour. ‘Big deal, so what’ I hear some of you say. Yes, on paper it’s not a huge thing, it’s not even really a slightly large thing. I realise how insignificant it sounds to my own ears but in the timeline of my trauma and brain injury it’s MASSIVE!

It’s as massive as 4 weeks ago when I pushed the vacuum cleaner around the living room and cried because it’s the first time I’d done it since injury, it’s as huge as when I put the kettle on and made a cup of tea without having a panic attack. This is the reality of trauma, this is my reality. This is how much brain injury set me back, I was on factory reset. I can write it over and over and still never adequately express how the minutiae of life became massive and scary and hills to be climbed. I’m aware of people ‘worse off’ than me, I know this, it doesn’t help being told there are people ‘worse off’ than me because trauma is personal, my pain is mine and my mountains are only mountains to me. It’s the same for each individual, our experiences and struggles are very unique but they are massive and scary and exhilarating.

Strapping on roller skates and moving in circles on wheels was my particular Everest, those skates were blamed for my injury, they were the cause of my pain, my standing still, my loss. Something I loved became the thing that hurt me deeply and permanently. So yes you tutters and eye rollers putting those things back on my feet was kind of a BIG DEAL.

I’d planned the outing before the festive period, there were only a few people in the know in case I backed out, a date was set and with the help of Mr Braingirl and a lovely friend D from Belfast Roller Derby it became my goal for January. In the run up to it I’d had a birthday and another lovely relapse with through the roof anxiety and sadness, it was looking like I wouldn’t make it out the door. On the morning of the skate I was shaking like a leaf, my reptilian part of the brain was doing its best to keep me ‘safe’ at home. It ran through my body from head to toe scanning for any aches and pains it could find and warning me that they all meant certain doom. This time though I observed the thoughts and thanked it and told it not to be so suffocating and that I was perfectly safe.

We arrived at the rink (that was freezing cold!), I took a deep breath, got ready and went for it.

Me on skates!

Me on skates!

I’m glad I did it, it felt great to banish that particular demon and add another penny in the ‘it didn’t kill me’ pot. I couldn’t do it for very long because I got too tired and I ached the next day but it’s crossed off the list and has given me a boost to see what I can tackle next.

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