This is a continuation from The Recovery (Part 2): Loss. Read that before continuing on.
It all came out in a therapy session. I initially didn’t talk to my therapist much when the accident happened. I was journaling so much about it that I didn’t feel the need to reiterate my thoughts and repeat the same thing. But writing out your feelings is different than talking about them. When you say it out loud, it hits different. It makes it more real and that’s what happened.
Just over a month in recovery, I was expressing my frustration and dissatisfaction with different aspects of my life to my therapist. She listened as I rambled on and on. When I finally stopped talking, she looked me straight in the eyes and said “Vivian, I think all of this is stemming from you not accepting what happened to you. You haven’t allowed yourself to fully grieve and just be with your feelings. You’re resisting instead of leaning in.” I was like, “What. No, I’m fine, I’ve been journaling and processing all this. I’m fine.” She then goes, “Have you really though? Have you really allowed yourself to feel your emotions? It’s okay to not be okay. You need to give yourself grace and compassion. There is no timeline to grieving.” Deep down, I knew she was right, but I didn’t want to admit it. Hearing it out loud hit hard.
I immediately started crying. Through my tears, for the first time out loud, I said, “I’m not okay. Shit, I’m not okay.” After what felt like forever, I pulled myself together, and of course, I felt better. My feelings finally got the release they needed. I got what I needed.
I came out of that session as a whole new woman. I finally gave myself the time I needed to grieve, feel what I wanted to feel, and go through the process of whatever my mind and body were telling me. I cried, laughed, listened, vented, potatoed, and embraced all the ups and downs that each day brought me. Little by little, my mood started to level. I started to feel a sense of stability and comfort, taking it day by day. Although not perfect, I got better at quieting the negative voice in my head and being more kind towards myself. To help with FOMO, I took a social media break and focused on practicing gratitude (easier said than done lol). I was also improving physically, which helped a lot and being surrounded by supportive friends.
Before I knew it, another month went by. It was around mid-May I realized that I have finally accepted the accident and the reality of my situation. I said it out loud in a therapy session with such confidence and felt this wave of acceptance and positivity. I felt like I’d moved forward from that sad, depressed person to someone that was excited about life again. Here’s a snippet of what I wrote in my journal that day: “I actually feel really at peace with where I am now and what has happened. I’m genuinely looking forward to what lies ahead and being present with life again. I never thought I would feel this again or be at this place, but wow, here I am and damn does it feel good.”
From then on, things started to look up. After hopping around on one leg for 5 weeks, I was able to walk again – first in a boot and then in regular shoes. I went to physical therapy and am still going. My foot started to look less swollen as time went on and I can happily say that it fits in most of my shoes now. I was able to go on all of the summer adventures that I initially planned- and more! I’ve added biking and running into my activities.
I’m still healing, but looking back, it’s crazy how far I’ve come. It’s been one hell of a journey and more of an emotional journey, than a physical one. Sometimes, I laugh thinking back to how dramatic I was, but hey, that doesn’t mean those feelings weren’t real or valid. I’m truly grateful for my community and proud of myself for getting through it. Yes, there was loss that came from this accident, but also things I’ve gained. And to that, I’m thankful for those and will cherish them forever.
March 13, 2021: The accident
March 26, 2021: Stitches taken out, transferred to boot. Still non-weight bearing.
April 13, 2021: First time walking (in a boot)
April 16, 2021: Back at the hospital again for a possible blood clot in left leg. Happy to say there was no blood clot.
April 24, 2021: First “climb” back
May 1, 2021: First time walking without a boot
May 16, 2021: First climb outside since the accident. Still couldn’t fit my left foot in my climbing shoes so regular shoes it is!
June 16, 2021: Led my first climb since the accident. Almost cried and took 28049735278934 times, but proud I pushed through. Left foot finally fit in my climbing shoes.
June 26, 2021: First backpacking trip back
July 10, 2021: Hiked up to Camp Muir and glissaded down
July 16, 2021: Summited Mt. St. Helens
July 27, 2021: Backpacked to Sahale Arm Glacier
August 28, 2021: Backpacked Chain Lakes Loop
September 4, 2021: Climbed in Mazama and felt more comfortable leading
September 11, 2021: First time back in Vantage, where it all happened, with my day one. Had weird emotions, but pushed through.
September 26, 2021: The Enchantments Thru-Hike, the most magical hike ever
October 2, 2021: Backpacked to Jade Lake
October 12, 2021: Climbed at Smith Rock State Park
📷 Cover photo by Charles Tai