If I knew then, what I know now.
Would I have let myself be led astray,
Would I have walked mindlessly through the only life I know now,
I will ever have,
Would I have climbed a wall?
or would I have stopped half way?
If I knew then, what I know now
Would I have disturbed the universe this way?
Let me tell you now, that although this whole mental rehab topic is about letting go of the past, I can tell you with a huge amount of certainty that this conclusion was not easily reached. I would love to live in delusion, in the comfort and security of the mud, the mud of aspiration, but never actually aspire. However for anyone who has gone through trauma there comes a time, when we realise that if we seriously want to get better we must unveil everything.
“Ultimate freedom is the climatic battle to kill the false being within”.
So here I start, in the mud
Over this last year I have played this game with myself, “what if”, and if I am completely honest, after my accident I had spent a good few months in a hospital bed contemplating every “what if” leading up to the accident. I was living in a past that was never going to change, yet there I stayed, relaying every decision and creating fictional versions of my life. Versions, where I was anywhere but in hospital.
In conversations with a friend discussing all my “what if’s” they perceptively sent me an extract from Wikipedia on “Counter Factural thinking”, this psychological concept was coined to explain the human tendency to create possible alternatives to life events that have already occurred”.
What did all my “what if’s” amount to? Did they change my life? did my mind empower the universe to go back a few steps and redo it, just for me? Did my life change as a result of all the counter factual thinking? Or was I stuck reliving a past I could never change? Was I unaware that I was swimming in the mud?
During my time in hospital I was in agony, an unmeasurable amount of pain that lingered, and only then did I understand why people numb the pain with drugs. I pressed that morphine button every minute, and it was futile, I tried to wriggle and tried to resist the inevitable truth that was; that for the next few months I would lie here, on my back attached to machines, with catheters and four drains and canulars all submerged into my skin. During the nights I would will myself to sleep, in hope(and yes, I prayed) that I would be able to sleep, for the peace that only sleep could bring me, yet sleep never happened and if by chance, from sheer exhaustion, my body gave way to slumber I would descend into nightmares, nothing but nightmares. In the early hours of the morning before the dawn I would think about a life I could have had, if I had chosen differently. What if?, What if? What if? One evening I remembered a song my mum used to sing to me, I would hum the words in my head, it was a bed time story of a bear hunt……..
We’re goin’ on a bear hunt,
We’re going to catch a big one,
I’m not scared
What a beautiful day!
Oh look! It’s some long, wavy grass!
Can’t go over it,
Can’t go under it,
Can’t go around it,
Got to go through it! #
Through the mushroom patch, the wide river, the deep cave, I’m not afraid! and it was then that the truth became as clear as mud, that there was no other way. I had to go through it, every moment of it. That, I know for certain!
After growing up in the most dysfunctional and broken home of anyone I have ever known, the emotion, pressure and heartache of this whole experience was, NORMAL? It felt like being under a layer of lead, and somehow the pressure was a security I was familiar with. To everyone but me, it was clear. I had just had this crazy accident, spent almost two months in hospital, two more months in a hospital bed at home, followed by a wheelchair, and six months on crutches. I was permanently disabled, limped and had funny shaped feet. It was apparent to everyone but me that the best thing to do would be to talk to a professional to help myself let go of what happened. However in my mind I was fine. (Reality ….I was in denial!)
Really what I had done was grab all the things that I couldn’t accept about the last year, and put it all into a box, sealed the box shut and limbed forward, determined to get through rehab as fast as possible because I was running out of fictional scenarios for my mind to conjuror up. And so I taught myself to roll onto my side, taught myself to crawl, to slide into a wheelchair, to stand, to walk on crutches, to limp on my own, and slowly I started to venture out into the real world again.
Did I limp because I was broken, scared and damaged or because my box was tied to me, like a surf board strap attached to my ankle and I was dragging it, everywhere? Dragging my past, dragging my accident and it hung to me like a weight.
At the end of the counter factual synopsis on wiki the last sentence states, “Counterfactual thoughts are things that could never possibly happen in reality, because they solely pertain to events that have occurred in the past” And there it was in plain English…. it was in the past!
Yet I wondered what was in the box? It certainly wasn’t the make believe life I had in delusion created. What was in there was the truth, a truth I didn’t want to see. In my haze of morphine and anaesthesia my mind lived in delusion whilst everything in reality went into the box. Yet in those few moments when someone in the real world would ask me “a truth”, a question I couldn’t hide from, I couldn’t ignore and all of a sudden, there it was, my box, its content escaping with an unbearable force I could not control.
What is the Mud?
So what does this all mean? the box, the past, the trauma, the Mud? What did it mean for me and for everyone out there stuck, frozen in the emotional maze that is our mind?
Maybe, when we experience, divorce, break ups, trauma, loss, death, accidents, redundancy maybe nothing needs to happen. At these moments of our lives we are at an emotional, physical or spiritual low; this place I like to call “THE MUD”. With aspiration and endeavour we can leave the mud behind and transform into another phase of our lives which we can call “THE LOTUS”
But how do we get out of “The Mud”?
At first I thought leaving THE MUD was just about fixing the physical, the things I could see were wrong.There was no hiding from funny shaped feet that didn’t work, nine scars (which I like to call my shark bites), a limp and a weird hip bone. What is much harder to navigate through is the emotional! Just like my box which sat beside me, full, heavy and overbearing, I wondered what truth was in there and how long I could carry it for and at what cost? How long can any of us carry our past with us?
The author and spiritual healer Thich Nhat Hanh states “No mud, no Lotus”
The thing about MUD, is that it can either lead to transformation which would be the lotus or you can stay in the mud forever, manifest disease mental or physical, you could close yourself off emotionally or become numb and lifeless or simply stagnate without ever manifesting a deeply purposeful life. Neither are easy for in the mud there is the comfort of security, better the devil you know than the devil you don’t, the fear of “if we reach for transformation and never arrive”, if we fail, if we leave the mud for the freedom of water and we drown. As much as I love the concept of transformation and the idea, the Instagram quotes of motivation, inspiration and change. for those in the midst of true adversity, transformation is a fucker.
When in THE MUD do you have the strength to force a moment to its crisis? To have the courage, strength and persistence to leave? The road is steep, the destination unknown, the path turbulent. And when that time comes, when we can no longer live in mud, how the hell do we get ourselves out?
How do we reinvent the body and resurrect the soul?
If I had known then, what I know now would I have chosen this all over again?
Yes ……. but I cant tell you why, the mud