I just cried my eyes out watching Brené Brown’s - The Call to Courage.
Maybe because I’ve spent the last seven years since my injury being courageous. For god’s sake, I lived at the frickin Courage Kenny Rehabilitation Institute for three months going through rehab after my spinal cord injury. Every single day I took chances and wussed out; succeeded and failed.
Every. Single. Day. It was terrifying.
But every day I had to show up for myself in order to figure out how to LIVE again, how to live my life like this. Sh*t, I made an art form out of being brave and vulnerable.
I’ve spent the last seven years in trial and error, telling people how scared I am and how hard it is to feel like myself in this wheelchair. I have seen therapists - many therapists. I've gone to different kinds of healers. I've done A TON of energy work such as Reiki, crystal therapy, chakra cleansing, etc. And I've gone to support groups and started meditating.
I have worked really hard, and I continue to work hard and stay open in order to live the best life I can in what oftentimes feels like a foreign vessel.
I still catch myself looking in the mirror and thinking:
"How is this my body? Damn. That can’t be my body. This is crazy."
But every day I squash that mindset, I look down at my legs, I touch them and I say, “I still love you,” which is hard. BELIEVE ME.
Every day I think about how I can share my truth in order to help others and to grow into MYSELF again, just like I did for the first 27 years of my able-bodied life.
Because of my “disability,” I am by definition a “vulnerable adult.”
Yeah, I am vulnerable - but I’ve decided to use it as a badge of honor.
And the more I surrender to that and use my vulnerability as my strength and my sword, the more I love myself. And the better my relationships become. And the more I am living my purpose and my truth, and the cooler things I get to do.
I see it during interviews for my documentary SUBMERGED (formerly, The Cure Map) all the time. There's this level of openness and vulnerability that is so hard but so rewarding.
And I see it in my journey to accept my disability and love myself; not in spite of my disability but BECAUSE of it.
I’m watching as my life becomes more joyful the more I embrace who I am, my community, my abilities, my limitations, my reality, everything. To my own wonder, my world seems to be expanding, quickly.
I think this process provides the training necessary to keep fighting for a tomorrow without paralysis. Because it’s allowing us to enjoy our lives more TODAY. It’s strengthening us to fight for a cure, however arduous that battle may be ... I feel like I’m really living again.
So whatever it is, be real with it. Surrender to it and allow it to make you better. Let it be your weapon. Like an open warrior, exposed yet strong - HERE I AM.
Kelsey Peterson, Contributing Writer | Filmmaker
U2FP | SUBMERGED
PS. Some of you may have noticed that this message was adapted from one of my social media posts from a few months ago. It’s true. And this is one of the reasons I love U2FP - they aren’t just trying to represent the institutional voice for people with an SCI, but want to engage the SCI Community in all of our realness and rawness and difference. It’s why I’ve said yes when they’ve asked me to write for them, or reframe old posts for a wider audience. They get us - the SCI Community - because they are us. And they offer us many great ways to get involved. I hope you’ll join me in supporting their work in whatever way you feel makes sense for you. Because we need you and your voice in this movement for a Cure!
(Click here to help U2FP Fuel the Journey toward curative interventions by becoming a monthly donor)