The next morning was the first day of the rest of my life. I had to stop lying in bed feeling depressed. So many people have tragic experiences happen to them and decide that those events are going to define them for the rest of their lives. I had my past in which I drank excessive amounts of alcohol, used drugs, had an arrogant attitude that pushed people away, slept with many women and hurt many of them, and many more things for which I was not proud of, but that is just what it was…my past.
It is very difficult for anyone to change their persona after they turn 30 years old, but if I didn’t; I would die and let many people that had been there to help me down. I had been given a second chance to live the rest of my life and each day was a blessing, as I had miraculously survived the hospital experience. The key was accepting other’s help and taking little steps each day to return to the land of the living, not the land of the depressed.
Hindsight is always 20/20 and for one last time I turned my eyes back on my past, and saw the way I acted and how I truly destroyed every relationship I had ever been in by my personality and mannerisms. This was true of my family, friends and girlfriends. Each person would hope that they could change me as they saw the person I was, and the person I could be, but over time they would finally give up hope of trying to achieve my potential. The only person that could make that happen was me and a determination and desire to change. The past was gone. The more I held onto it the more it would make it impossible to start over.
No one is responsible for your life except yourself, and if you continue living your life for others instead of yourself then you will never truly be happy. This was a concept I had to internalize. I had to realize that I needed to follow my dreams instead of following what others said were my dreams. I think that is a problem with many people. They are told to go to college, get a good job, get married, have a child……while all of these things sound great, they are not for everyone and I needed to figure out what my dreams in life were and how to follow them; one step at a time. I needed to be able to walk first.
I started to force myself to sit up for as long as possible. If I was going to be able to walk, sitting up without fainting seemed to be a good step in that direction. Over the first few days, I went from being able to sit up for 10 minutes, to being able to roll myself into the dining room and eat dinner with the family who was taking care of me. By the end of dinner I would be exhausted but I knew I was getting better.
Tuesdays and Fridays I went to the clinic to get my surgical wounds treated. Normally, Priscilla’s father would drive to the house I was staying at, pick me up and take me. He would sit patiently while we waited to be called and then drive me back. I enjoyed spending time with him, but on the days that Priscilla was able to come it always started my day off on the right foot. I could tell she truly cared about me getting better. Her heart brought faith back into my soul that there are people out there that truly care about others.
Priscilla then found a friend of hers that was a physical therapist near where I lived. David had been an old friend of hers that wanted to be more than a friend. As it is with many guys, they will do almost anything if they think it gives them a chance to get a girl in bed…..I know, trust me. I just happened to be the benefactor of this, but thank goodness we started the therapy. David told me if I had not started therapy when I did I probably never would have walked again. He agreed to see me three times a week with no fee when he had open spots in his schedule.
These visits were normally in the afternoon which meant that Priscilla would usually come with me. For anyone that has not been through physical therapy after an accident or an injury, it is not fun and it is not easy. I have the tendency to laugh when I am in a lot of pain and these sessions were filled with laughter. To say that trying to lift 5 pound weights with my legs, the stretching exercises, and trying to establish muscle memory was painful, is a gross understatement. However, because I did not want Priscilla to see weakness, I would laugh and pretend like everything was fine. She saw right through it and could see what was really going on in my eyes. She would stand beside me and hold my hand, giving me the strength and support I needed to get through these sessions.
In the afternoons, she would sometimes come by and sit with me. We would talk about life and what we were both going through. I think she really needed someone to talk to about the relationship she was in with my ex-boss. I have never seen someone as unhappy and controlled as she was while staying in a relationship, but like most people, until they finally see it for themselves, you cannot say nor do anything. It was the same thing with my alcoholism and destructive behavior. People had told me my entire life what the consequences of my actions would bring. I heard them, but never truly listened. She was the same way with her relationships, both present and past. She related emotional abuse to love because of her childhood and growing up.
While in the wheelchair, Priscilla and her father decided they wanted to take me to afternoon coffee at Priscilla’s grandmother’s house. This was a daily afternoon activity where most of their family would come for coffee at 3 pm each day. I was rolled up the driveway and then lifted by one of her uncles and her father up the stairs and into the kitchen. I was then placed in the kitchen at the table and served the best cup of coffee I had had in Costa Rica……I always say that as I know Abuela makes it with love for everyone that comes into her kitchen and everyone that comes into her life.
I spent about 45 minutes there and then felt weak and thought I was going to faint. I was immediately taken into the living room and lay down on the couch. Abuela and others came with me and talked to me while my light headedness faded. She patted my hand and looked like she was going to cry seeing what I was going through. Priscilla sat beside me and comforted me as well. It was the first time in a long time that I had felt love and it was almost like someone was slowly breaking the stone that surrounded my heart. It was as if just being in this house and surrounded by this family was helping dissipate some of the hate in my heart. I was then loaded in the car and taken back home. As I closed my eyes that night I felt at peace.
On my least favorite day of the year, Valentine’s Day, Priscilla came over and brought me chocolate. I did not have the heart to tell her I did not like chocolate and gratefully, accepted the three chocolate letters, TQM……standing for Te Quiero Mucho. (Basically translated means, I care a lot about you). We could sit there and talk and laugh about the terrible experiences we were going through; her with her relationship and myself with the therapy and learning to live again. Just holding her hand and having someone by my side was more important than she will ever know. There were days when I thought about giving up, but her support and love carried me through those down times.
After about 3 weeks I had moved from a wheelchair to a walker. It enabled me to go to the bathroom by myself and start gaining a little bit of independence.
I looked around and was surrounded by people that cared about me and that were set on helping me get through this part of my life. In my past I would have been resentful and determined to do everything on my own, but I knew accepting their help and letting them into my life was a vital part of my recovery and moving on. Having this love and support system was exactly what I needed. The process was long but each day I fought to try to take a step in the right direction. I was no longer fighting just for myself; I was trying to get better for all those around me.
Friendship, love, family, and hope were going to get me through this part of my life.
Physically I was improving, the next step was therapy for my mind and heart……you cannot help who you fall in love with.
Next Week – Coffee & Falling in Love