What I'm about to write below, I've pondered upon for quite some time. It's an extremely personal story and images of a traumatic event I was involved in two years ago. I felt great shame in sharing the story because I didn't want anyone outside of my circle to know, but the end result of this circumstance and my transitions through it have been nothing short of positive and life-changing, so I now feel comfortable in recounting my story to whomever would like to read it.
April 24th 2016 was the eve of the Anzac Day public holiday in Australia, a day renowned for courage, strength and hope. For me however, I had chosen to spend the day with my family and nephews, enjoying quality time with all of them prior to returning back home just before midnight. Little did I know what was about to unfold would quite seriously change my world forever.
To make a very long and gruesome story short, within minutes of exiting my car outside my then home, I was approached by someone known to me and physically assaulted in a repeated and vicious attack which resulted in my jaw being broken in two separate places.
I was taken to hospital, had reconstructive surgery on my jaw complete with three titanium plates to hold it all together and spent the better part of the following month eating vitamised food through a straw or soup every single day whilst rehabilitating and teaching myself how to open my mouth again despite the sheer agony and pain of doing so.
The perpetrator received a slap on the wrist and despite pleading guilty, he received an 18-month suspended jail sentence, a 120-hour community corrections order and anger-management classes; modern day justice right? Meanwhile, I was learning how to eat again and dealing with swelling that made half of my face look like a blowfish (shown below) whilst contemplating a very uncertain future in all aspects, trying to comprehend what the long-term ramifications for me will be.
During this period, there were some very key and dear people, close to my life and heart that were by my side, I will never forget them and they each know who they are, or at least should.
As a result of my injuries, I was forced to move out of my home and back with my parents for a period of time. It was during this time where I reflected on the events of that night and just how lucky I was to come out of it alive.
Unusually, in the exact same month (April 2016), also in Victoria, another similar incident took place where the victim sadly ended up losing his life, so if anything, I was acutely aware of how very different things could have ended up for me. Thankfully when it happened, I was not concussed, I did not pass out, no blows were inflicted upon my temples and I did not fall over once.
I do however have to wear Invisalign clear plates in my mouth for 22 hours per day, every day for the next 12 or so months to correct my bite and re-shape my teeth, but I am here, I am alive and I intend on making the absolute most of it that I can.
We always hear people say "you only live once" or "live like there's no tomorrow" and those sayings and sentiments have certainly brought upon an entire new meaning to me now. Whilst the typical expected response of "go and rob a bank if you want to live like there's no tomorrow" is not high on my list of things to do, I've come out of an extremely terrible situation having done a LOT of soul-searching with an entire new, dedicated and persistent perspective upon life, one which actually does not revolve around money but more about people, moments, memories and experiences.
One which sees me be more authentic to myself, more caring, patient and understanding. For all of my life, I was a planner, constantly planning for the future, always looking ahead but never looking at the here and now. Whilst I'm grateful for what I achieved and experienced during these years, an incident such as this has reminded me about the critical importance of just being. "Being what?" you may ask? "Being me" is my response.
We are constantly surrounded by societal expectations of who we are supposed to be, what we are supposed to do and have and I can honestly say that I'm done with it. Done with trying to live up to everyone elses expectations of who and what I'm supposed to be. Tired of pressure to say yes, show face or attend events or functions that don't resonate with my soul.
Below is a series of some VERY personal images that I've never shared. They were always and only ever meant to be for me and my progression, however I feel that it's important to not only share my journey in words but also show it in images. Click on each image to read a short description:
As a result, I've started to live more, which doesn't necessarily mean doing every conceivable heart-racing dare-devil experience out there, it just means spending more time in the now, listening more to my inner voice. If I want to stay home and enjoy some solitude, I will; and if I want to be surrounded by family or friends, I'll do that too. Some may call it selfish, but I call it being true to myself and authentic. At least that way, when I am with others, then it's a conscious decision of desire that I have to be present, rather than an appearance out of obligation or expectation. It's me giving the absolute best of myself, and that is the complete opposite of being selfish in my mind.
I'm now even more aware of the true fragility of life, how everything in our entire existence could change or end in literally a moment. How many things do we take for granted? How many beautiful people surround us that we don't tell we love or at the very least treat them in a manner that demonstrates our true feelings?
Regardless of what you think happens to us when our time is up, none of us truly know, all we DO know with certainty is the now, so being present and being authentic to yourself and to others is all that matters. Gratitude, authenticity and love, 3 powerful words with profound meanings that have truly changed my life.
I am grateful to still be here with my health of mind, body and spirit. What do I have to complain about?
I am authentic in all that I do, all that I say and all that I intend. My intentions are never bad.
I love deeply, all or nothing, not forgetting that I must first love myself and then others.
Life is a gift and I intend wholeheartedly to spend as much of it as I can living my truth, rather than just being alive through a facade.
Sending love and positive energy to anyone who needs it during this time and just know that no matter how bad things can get for you, there is ALWAYS hope and something better on the other side of it. Thank you for reading this and being part of my personal journey, it means a great deal to me xox