Nick’s last back surgery has turned out to be a blessing for both of us. Nick is finally seeing some improvements from it. More flexibility! He told me he’s able to sleep on his stomach in his “favorite sleeping position” for the first time since his accident. It’s a stomach-down, half-twist, pillow-hugging position that allows Nick to sleep soundly. Many basic movements are getting easier for him, which he gives credit to having less hardware in his back.
Since Nick’s spine surgery two and a half months ago, I eagerly decided to reclaim my identity. For over a year I absorbed into Nick as an extension of him. His caregiver and partner, I embodied a role that profoundly nurtured my soul. He needed me, and I needed him. We lived the mantra “we’re going to get through this together.” We still are. A promise I made to his unconscious body the night of his accident, I took on his suffering and grief as my own and vowed to never give up on his healing, no matter what.
But several weeks after this surgery, his healing began taking a turn in a positive direction. His recovery was slowly transitioning into predominantly physical healing because he had done so much work on the emotional side of it already. I didn’t notice this until after week 5 or 6 though, as the physical pain of the surgery gave way to preliminary emotional backsliding. But Nick is resilient, and as soon as he began fighting back, gaining confidence again and physical strength, it became apparent that a space was opening up in our lives for me to begin exploring who I am again.
I had lost myself in our journey, and I’m okay with that. I call it steadfast commitment. A love-drenched soul in its ultimate expression.
With Nick on the mend now, more determined and happy than ever, I’ve been slowly shifting my focal point from him to me. As Nick needs my pep-talks and physical presence less and less, I’m taking my time back to pursue the creative endeavors that have been tugging at my heart for over a year now.
I’m slowly coming alive with passion, cultivating my evolving strengths, and investing my time into creating what my heart is screaming to take shape. I’ve been working on a book for months, and though it’s nowhere near ready to be published, I’m no longer embarrassed to call myself an author. The painstaking yet gratified experience of pushing through my insecurities and emotional blocks to craft a brutally honest memoir of my charmed but dramatic life is proof enough for me that I am indeed an author. At 31, I have shelves of dusty, conflict scarred stories in my memory that I’m not too self-conscious to share, particularly the behind-the-scenes struggles and triumphs of the last 16 months. We all have a story to tell, and I’ve decided that it’s time to tell mine. Not Nick’s story. My story. I’m working feverishly to get the words out, aware that the journey is still young and likely to awkwardly linger long past its welcome, just like the one I’m writing about.
It’s been 16 busy months, and I have yet to return to a “real job,” preferring to use my time to continue helping Nick. I highly doubt I’ll return to a “real job,” (think: traditional employment). I want to create something different for my future. I’ve been studying nutrition, and am taking a course to become a Certified Nutrition Coach. With that certification, I’ll be able to legally teach nutrition in any state in the U.S.. Now, I have no idea where this will lead, but I’m certain that if I pursue what I’m passionate about, the pieces will fall together as I go. I yearn to combine passion with purpose, and create a living through that. That’s what I did with skydiving and at the time I was fulfilled beyond measure. Though I still love skydiving, I find it lacks purpose for me now, other than serving as an outlet for fun and the occasional reminder that I’m still alive.
My shift of focus has ignited a fire within me. I hope to lead Nick by example now in his own pursuit of a meaningful life, seeking peace and happiness together.