Embrace your life in this body. It sounds simple enough. It’s taken me 42 years but I’m pretty comfortable now. This Embrace movie helped. So did my renewed meditation practice and India retreat. Finding strength deep within ourselves makes it easier to ride the surface waves, even through a storm.
Since the 17th of August 2001 I have dreaded the bleak month of August. It’s wet, cold and dreary. While I want to feel grateful for my life and my functioning body, the arthritis aches around my broken joints and reminds me of a painful loss and a traumatic time. The memories get easier as time travels and the years get further away.
Losing Adam was horrific for all that new him. The life we shared together, living in our funky old yellow shack on the esplanade at Henley Beach, seems like a surreal chapter. It ended abruptly like a dream too. We left our concrete shack on a rainy night, packing the car with our weekend wear, our wine for the Watervale Bowls Club quizz night and our washing basket (we didn’t have a machine at the shack so we washed when we visited parents, Adam’s sister, my Aunt, our dear friends). That was the last night of living that beach front dream like life. We rushed out the door, leaving the bed unmade (the linen needed washing) and the dishes on the sink because we wanted to get on the road to Watervale as quickly as we could to get through the traffic before the darkness set in. We didn’t make it and we didn’t return to the beach shack. We didn’t ever go back. Just like a dream it ended, more like a messy nightmare, and sudden.
When I woke from the medically induced coma I spent a month on the ward. Each of my four limbs immobile for most of the time and my face heavily bandaged. Family and friends brought in food as the days progressed to try and coax me to eat. My parents warned visitors that I looked like a broken doll tucked up on the bed.
My mum tried to tell me many times that Adam was gone and I couldn’t go home. I didn’t understand where he’d gone. I asked mum why we couldn’t be in the same hospital room. After finally hearing that Adam was dead, and actually comprehending that the nightmate was real, I didn’t eat for days. It’s hard to swallow food when your heart is broken and you’ve been tube fed for a week. I didn’t have any motivation to eat. Being 26 years old, covered in plaster and not able to feed myself or hold a mirror in front of my face to see the scars gave me no interest in food. I didn’t care to feed my broken body. I couldn’t imagine being fixed like I am now, happily married with children and work (and no walking aids). If I lost anymore weight they might move me from the orthopaedic ward so I could be watched more carefully by a dietitian. I decided to eat because there was enough that I couldn’t control without adding an eating disorder to the list of treatment required. I would eat what I could, which wasn’t much, but I got closer to the required safe weight. That experience has given me a glimpse of how people; girls and boys, women and men, form unhealthy relationships with their body and food. It happens in the mind.
I’m not going to hate the month of August anymore. I’m shifting focus to create something positive. Melbourne friends, my goal this August is to get enough tickets sold for the 28 August screening of Embrace at Palace Balwyn Cinema. Scars or no scars, regardless of botox or cosmetic surgery, whether you care about fitness or watch your diet – the message is the same. You get one go at this life in this body, embrace it, don’t waste time being unhappy. No judgement. The message behind this event is self acceptance and self belief.
Much like Tarryn Brumfit, I want my children, their cousins and young friends, and my adult friends, to feel at ease with their bodies. Looking after our health and wellbeing is far more important than looking like the unrealistic representations of genetically blessed and photographically manipulated bodies in the media. Confidence is attractive. Happiness is beautiful. A smile sparkles brighter than jewellery. Curves are natural, so are missing bottoms (me), and boobs of all sizes. Feeling comfortable is more vital than looking the part. We are all different.
I look back at the years in my youth before my accident and I regret the time I wasted hating my hair, my freckles and my pale skin. I could’ve been playing those features as strengths. Sure we can tweak and polish, if we want to, but we don’t have to be defined by our looks. Be defined as being fun, adventurous, creative, athletic, well spoken or not to be reckoned with! That’s what I would tell my younger me.
Just be yourself.
Ticket sales to Embrace screening here https://fan-force.com/screenings/embrace-palace-cinemas-balwyn-vic-28-08/