For a time after brain surgery I was blind.
Blind, about 4% vision in one eye and zero in the other. It was confronting, frightening but then the strangest thing happened- my biology morphed and adjusted. Not only did it adjust but I found myself with a whole new set of skills. I could cut through all the rubbish and get to the grit, purely because I didn’t have to utilise and get past visual cues. My hearing became almost bionic, and I became incredibly perceptive in being able to hone in on people’s emotions from the tone of their voice. Rather than being a sad event- it was one of the most incredible and profound experiences of my life. I told those I loved that I now had super-powers and the process my body went through to enhance itself without sight was miraculous. Sure I had a few brick imprints on my head – double brick homes are not favorable. But hey, dints can be sexy!
What also became very apparent, was that even though I felt enhanced in many ways, I was not seen this way by others.
I had no hair, I had many deep and shocking scars over my head, swelling to the side of my head and I had to learn how to walk again. I was disabled. I had to learn a lot of new skills and abilities, sure. But I didn’t view myself as dis-anything. I was very lucky to be alive, I was grateful to be alive, and I knew I had some hard work ahead. To many, my situation was about “how sad” my situation was, which created a “less than” mentality. Complete strangers would say lovely things edged with unmistakable pity. A huge presumption was being made, that my life was less terrific because I did things differently now. I have never looked at another “disabled” person the same again. To me, those that are “enhanced” have an evolved sense of so much MORE than the average Joe. More than. Not less than.
Within 6 months my sight returned- this was a very unexpected event. I was grateful for my return of sight, for two reasons only- smiles and colour. I missed it. I missed seeing my children’s smiles and sunsets. Everything else? I could do.
Not long ago one of my children saw a man in a wheelchair, turned to me and said: “Look at that poor man with no legs Mum.” This beautiful child of mine had empathy- a gift to be sure. But I turned to him and said “Don’t ever think that man has less than honey, look at that smile. I bet he’s happier and more successful than anyone we know. And, he’s got great wheels.” I looked at my son and saw that his look had changed from empathy to admiration towards a stranger that was “different.”
When I stumbled across this video, it took my breath away and made me smile and laugh, because it is the most accurate perspective I have yet heard about “being blind.”
Susan has so accurately verbalized the time I had. I can honestly tell you that if I needed a judge of character, I would trust someone without eye vision that has the inner vision in a heartbeat. The best bit, she made me laugh until my belly hurt. This is a great thing. So click below and check out Susan’s adventure in failing to be disabled. You won’t regret it.
Enjoy, be sure to comment below and share this incredible TED-talk.
I have not written here in a while. The reason for this is transparency.
As a friend reminded me the other day; this blog is about truth. I could not write the way I write and be truthful, light-hearted or anything really. I needed to come to a place where I was comfortable to tell you my truth. I stepped away from the meadow for a bit to think. I had writer’s constipation and a dreadful case of no-funny-itis. Now I am here.
So a month ago I went back to the hospital to find out how Fred was doing and the aneurysm. Turned out that Fred wasn’t doing so good and the aneurysm was still filling with blood, not a good sign. So all of my scans and goodies were sent off overseas to many other leading world experts to find out what could be done. It was now an even more special case. We waited 2 weeks. More brain surgery was the most likely outcome, the thought of which made my blood run cold. Disappointed but with very hopeful hearts we waited. We returned to be told that the conclusive opinion was that there is nothing more we can do, (with a whole lotta other stuff I wont bore you with) We are sorry. I said; what do I need to do? Response; you need to grow some cells.
I will not tell you what transpired over those hours. Some stuff just stays between a woman and her man, and a woman and her God.
We came home.
I walked around the house silent and devoid of any feeling. I was numb and shut down like a vault.
Not long after this something annoyed me and I spat sparks like Mount Vesuvius. It was at that moment I knew there was molten lava building up and it wasn’t going to be pretty. I was within 2 moments of giving up- my chest felt like a dust bowl. No feeling means Uh Oh. Because underneath the Uh Oh was a big Oh Shit. I knew I had to go somewhere To Be. I couldn’t be like this around my children and my husband, I was hurting and I didn’t want them to see it. I was sooooo tired. Tired of it all.
Putting on your big girl pants constantly is so tiring, the elastic was stretched, the cotton was torn and I had RSI from the upward pull, my wriggle was gone and the pants were saggy. My cup of concrete had run dry, 4 years will do that to you.
My children are so perceptive and Lothario needed to process gently without worrying about me. Well at least this is what I thought at the time. The other part I knew intrinsically after these years of mindful action was that there was no way that all of this anger was going to help me. It was bad for my stress response; it was not an ideal environment to heal. And I needed to grow new cells better than David Austen does roses; so the soil had to be right.
So I did what any middle class mother from the suburbs does when she gets given disruptive news; I went to an Ashram. It seems my at home retreat idea I mentioned in my last blog wasn’t going to cut it. I needed the real deal.
I know right? It’s so eat pray freaking love. I am a complete cliché. The Ashram had been mentioned to me by my Kinesiology and meditation teacher a few months before. I couldn’t believe that a full working Ashram was less than 2 hours from my house. It had personal retreats and Mouna (periods of silence). Who needed India? I had Wombat State Forrest!
So I threw my little family into disarray and Mamma Bear took off for a while.
This was harder for me than I have words for and there was snotty crying all the way but instinctively I knew it had to be done. My heart screamed STAY and yet I needed a place of quiet reflection.
I am a bit of a chatterbox, I like to have a yarn at times. (No really?) My father says I can talk under water with a mouth full of marbles. So when I told my family I was going to an Ashram for personal retreat where there were long periods of silence (NO TALKING AT ALL) there were a few grins. Self combustion was discussed and the very real possibility of a quick return home.
The periods of long silence and lack of human interpersonal contact via communication or eye contact was completely unsettling at first.
I had never experienced it before- it was so new to me. Being by myself and in silence is one thing, I do enjoy being on my own at times; but to be around others and be in silence is another. No mobile phones, No television, No outside interaction. So you are left with the wind, the sounds of the trees and birds and most importantly you are left with YOU.
I did get really desperate one afternoon and had a mind conversation with an old Kangaroo who was shading himself under a bush, he looked at me at one stage with one eyebrow raised as if to say “Bitch Please. You are talking to a Large Marsupial telepathically. Its time to call the dudes in the whites with a van, get an injection of happy time and chill, someone has been putting somthin freaky in the pear juice. “
My room consisted of a bed, a table and a lamp. No decorative features. Any ornate factors belonged to nature or the beautiful temples there. There was an awful lot of space. Just me and Papa G. Whoa.
There was one particular night when I realised that I was excellent at filling space. I filled space like a pro with children, relationships, business meetings, study, Netflix, hobbies, workouts and reading books, meditation, cooking, helping others. You name it, I filled the gaps. A busy happy mind is conducive to making things happen you see, being a go- getter and getting things DONE is the best way to be. Positivity breeds Positivity, so lets fill my world with endless positivity add a few naps and a bit of me time is all you need… yeah right…
Now I had infinite space with nothing to fill it with but me.
So what did me have to say? Me asked a shit load of weird things that went a little something like this;
If disease is caused by negative thoughts then isn’t death the ultimate failure for a positive thinker?
What trauma do I have I am still hanging on to?
How do I tell my kids this news? You don’t have anything to tell them. Nothings really happened.
I’m so sick of having to report back to people about everything.
I’m so exhausted from spreading bad news like a virus
I put hope in other people’s hands. People I thought knew to fix me. It didn’t work. Yes it did. You are still here.
They are the experts and they cant do any more to help.
Why do I still think I am not good enough?
Good enough for what?
You’re hurting everyone you know.
This is painful, I am causing pain.
This is not right.
This is not fair.
Why am I so scared?
I’m really broken now.
Why was I talking to a kangaroo?
I really need chocolate now.
Actually chocolate and a big arse glass of wine.
You’ve done it again, you have told everyone you are fine and you are NOT FINE
How on earth is he going with the children?
I hope they haven’t burnt the house down
They can’t survive without me
My genetics suck
Being old is so overrated…hmmm I should have brought chocolate
You know you need to smile, you need to forget about you and concentrate on those around you who need you
Pull up your big girl pants and get on with it, you can’t get angry
You mustn’t get angry or be sad
The medical profession has all the answers
Thought you were so clever being healthy, meditating, praying, being so good, it didn’t get you very far did it? Clever girls come last don’t they?
Trav didn’t sign up for this
I’ve ruined my kids lives
My toenails need painting
Man what is that hair growing outta my knee?
I wonder if I bought the tweezers
I’ve lost the plot and I am a terrible human
None of these were true. They were all expressions and echoes of pain learned and attached to me like stitches in a blanket that I had wrapped around myself over 39 years without even realising it. We do funny things to survive, people tell us funny things and then they get reinforced by outside events along the way. We learn the stitches but they are not a part of the beginning fabric. I spent time gently unpicking the stitches and taking a look, then putting it back together again without the bits I didn’t need anymore.
The acknowledgement and release of all these facets made way for new discoveries and ideas. Unearthing both frantically frightening and joyful elements like a miner with a trowel was more beneficial, complex and free-ing than anything I’ve experienced to this date. It’s a big call right?
I bushwalked, I cried, I wrote, I drew, I prayed, I chanted, I learned a whole different breed of Yoga, I read books, I had in-depth chats about life and death with a Swami, I drank and ate with monks, I laughed. I meditated within an inch of my life; learning Meditation that made me feel like there really are Jedi. I had a frog jump on my hand and apparently I am now no longer allergic to coconut; I acknowledge that this is completely random and a story for another time.
I did all of this in an environment that was pure and special. I felt it the moment I walked around the property.
The food would put Jamie Oliver to shame; Permaculture based on hundreds of years of knowledge and it was like walking into the garden of Eden, if you love growing fruit and veg, this was pretty spesh. This feeds the entire Ashram; we ate Vegetarian Organic, beautifully prepared dishes that had been specifically chosen for the body’s absolute purity. I was a bit impressed can you tell?
This place was filled with classes and possibilities for you to choose in this space of quiet and gentle contemplation, nothing is forced. Interesting people with elegant and gentle space is what I felt. These amazing people have opened up their Ashram for the modern world human to enter and experience being human again. Some people just go there to paint write and sleep.
And as I felt myself come gently back together, I started smiling.
A sense of peace started to enter the space, my sense of connection to all that was around me heightened. The volcano embers had been expelled and replaced with deep breaths.
There is a very strong theory that past trauma can sit within the layers of different consciousness and create either disease or a body environment that is out of balance which can create illness. I knew this, and have spent many years letting go, practising forgiveness and turning over what I thought was nearly every rock. There’s been tapping, CBT, NLP, ABC, 123, you name it, I’ve tried it. They are all great stepping stones to wellness and mindfulness, but they are not the answer to everything. I had missed a key point, my body knew exactly what it needed all along. It knew. I knew. I had to be in a moment of complete option-run out, come to Jesus-holy shit moment to be left with nothing. When you have nothing to go to You go within and then that’s when God happens. This is when we are truly listening to what it is we need to have a present, calm and balanced life. None of us knows when our time here has come for us to have the next Grand Adventure, part of being human is the feeling of being a human, the broken that is human. You are a human Be-Ing. Some of us are so busy fixing and filling our lives, we forget about the being part.
It isn’t mystical, philosophical or religious. You appreciate living in a world of 5 elements with a mind that reacts and is able to perceive and appreciate on whatever level.
My body is made of these elements and minerals. This is what feeds them. I can be sustained. The most natural thing in the world is for an organism to build cells. It does it every day.
I’m pretty sure I can grow these cells if I haven’t already. If my body mind and spirit are primed for good healthy cell growth, then my body will do the rest with a bit of Gods Grace. If it is to be then it will be. I think it might be just that simple. As a monk said to be last week; You are already doing it.
I just got used to these digs and there is housekeeping to be done. I got myself weddings to attend, grand babies to hold and countries to soiree in as well as a book under my belt to get published. Plus I want to see what Lothario looks like as an old bugger, I reckon he is going to rock a paunchy belly and grey hairs. Plus I learned some amazing new Yoga positions, I can balance on one leg properly and I have a sneaking suspicion I can do Jedi Mind Control now. Just sayin.
When I came home we decided that we have had enough of fear hanging over our heads and monthly check ups- MRIs and Angiograms, Brain Surgeries. We are going to get on with our lives now. I am going to get on with my life. Because this is my life. Right now.
If you decide to hang about you are going to hear some ponderings about life, hopefully they will be interesting (I’ve written enough fodder when I was away to write 60 blogs…so there’s plenty to go around if you are up for it).
In the meantime – Kiss someone you love, forgive someone you need to and hopefully we will walk in the meadow again soon. Xxx Kirsten
PS- Rocklyn Ashram details are HERE for those who are interested – xx