The Recovery Series: In The Beginning

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One day, 5 months after being found dead in a baseball field, I was out of the hospital and stumbling through my first day back at University. My teachers organized a meeting, in which they expressed their concern for the traumatic experience that I had, and offered their support to me if ever I should need it. They then went on to tell me how this experience was a great thing. A character building opportunity that would only make me a stronger actor. That this life changing experience was going to inform and elevate my work. “We are looking forward to what you can make with this on the stage”.

It seemed that people thought that because I had “seen the other side” or “been through some serious shit” that I had become this inspired, spiritually connected human being destined for greatness. Paradoxically, at the same time, it seemed like people expected nothing from me at all. Anytime I needed to take time off or not be involved with something I was immediately excused without question. I felt the weight of this imposed double standard and was cornered by it. During this time I wrote this in my journal:

“If I died today they would commend my few accomplishments, and speak to my bravery and perseverance… but if I live, and pursue my dreams I am expected to reach the stars.”

My story, as dramatic and serious as it is, deals with issues that apply to everybody. “Everyone has their shit”, is a lesson I learned spending time in the hospital. Mental or physical, psychological or metaphorical, there is a chip in everyone’s shoulder. People apologize to me, “Sorry, I shouldn’t be complaining, it’s nothing in comparison to what you’re dealing with”. Like my issues are so bad that divorced families and eating disorders aren’t serious. We all face these challenges, no matter how big or small society makes them, they are real and they need to be addressed.

The wounds that are visible are pitied and the ones that are invisible are ignored, but no matter where your hurt lies, my problems and yours have one thing in common. The need for a future. A future with this new problem in mind, a new you. How you recover from this experience does not lie in the rumours of your small town or your high school grad class. You will have to make sacrifices and become very honest with yourself. In struggle there is always something to hold onto, and something to let go of. A fine balance between ignorance and obsession, anxiety and denial, this is the challenge of recovery.

In “The Recovery Series” I am going to be talking about the recovery process. Whether you have a heart condition, or a bad week at the office, these posts are for you to commiserate and contemplate with. A place for sharing and ideas to be heard. I welcome all conversations and really looking forward to bringing light to this under-discussed topic.

Thanks For Listening.

Photo credit to Levi Hildebrand.

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4 thoughts on “The Recovery Series: In The Beginning

    • Exactly. There is so much comparison between us that we forget to truly just sit down and deal with ourselves without the influence of others. I plan to write about this in an upcoming post for the series.

      Thanks for sharing! 😀

  1. Levi, I cannot begin to tell you how this post resonates for me. The idea that a “new you” is born following tragedy is something I not only completely understand, but that I myself live with on a daily basis. The carefree person I was before my cancer is gone. I doubt she’ll ever return. I no longer have any allusions that my life is a “sure thing.”

    This isn’t supposed to happen at our age. I wasn’t supposed to get cancer. It has to be a mistake. This is something that happens to “other people.” There’s no history of breast cancer anywhere in my family, and I was 37 when it was discovered, not even old enough to have had a first mammogram – not until 2015.

    Of course the reactions of the people around me were the most life-altering. At times like these, when the proverbial shit hits the fan, these are the times we most certainly learn who our real friends are.

    There were so many “hardest parts” of my journey, but by far one of the most agonizing for me was to swallow my hurt and rage and dig down deep to find the courage to pick up the phone and call the people I love most in the world, one by one, and tell them I had cancer. Breaking the news to them was 1000 times harder than hearing it from my doctor’s lips.

    The next hardest thing, if it is even remotely possible to rank such things, was returning to work. It’s one thing to cry with loved ones over the phone; it’s entirely another to walk into a staff room full of acquaintances who all “know” your stuff, but whom you’ve never once actually spoken to about it. Sure, they sent me a lovely card signed by all, but walking into my workplace, I was immediately met with two distinct camps of people: the ones who looked upon me with pity, and the ones who didn’t even look at me.

    It didn’t matter if they pitied me with moist eyes or averted ones, the impact on me was the same. I haven’t changed, but you all have, and it breaks my heart.

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