It all started after i woke up…

Parked in a dimly lit garage in the middle of the San Francisco around 7pm, I sat in the driver’s seat, seat belt still on, texting two different male acquaintances who had expressed sexual interest in me.

September 6, 2011: Young, promoted and disembodied

September 6, 2011: Young, promoted and disembodied

“What are you up to tonight?” The resounding emptiness in me that craved to be filled felt like it was growing deeper as I checked my phone every few minutes for a response. After some time of getting immersed in social media, I receive a reply back: an invitation from one man to come over to his house for dinner not too far away. I drove over immediately, although more apathetically than intentionally. 

That night, I ended up drinking five glasses of wine too many and giving my body to the man beyond my heart’s desire and conscious consent. As I left his apartment in the morning, I was dissociated from my body which held a gaping hole meant to hold my soul.

Despite my loneliness and disconnection, I was able to distract myself. On paper, I was an ambitious, busy and beautiful social butterfly living the dream, earning a six-figure salary, collecting stock options, saving for retirement, and dating eligible bachelors with city pads.

Two days after my disembodying sexual encounter, I had a fully booked day of hot yoga at 5am, a full day at the office, then an hour-long drive to an evening celebration for my part-time job. That night, after receiving and celebrating a promotion to a senior position on my part-time team, I began the drive back home just past midnight.

It was Wednesday morning at 1am when I woke up in the middle of the interstate to chilling wind on my skin, clouds of gray smoke rising and the smells of burning rubber and gasoline sharp in my nostrils. 

I fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into the highway center divide.

Within seconds, I was there with a swollen face from the airbag that had just hit me, shocked before the sight of blinding headlights on cement. Lifting my leg in throbbing agony, I found a heavy, disconnected foot with orange toenails, dementedly hanging like dead weight.

The blinding sterility of the hospital emergency room ‪at 2am was cutting- cutting of the green chiffon dress i had just celebrated some success in; torn straight up the middle. Cutting open my underwear without remorse, cold scissors sliding over me, leaving me vulnerable and without voice. One kind ER nurse took some time to tell me, “everything will be okay,” and I held on to his words for my dear life. After hours of tests, drugs, and incomplete memories, I discovered my fractured left hip and broken right ankle.

The call to my parents at 6am that morning about my crash and forthcoming emergency surgery was the hardest one I’ve ever had to make. Dad also had to track down the ‘95 emerald green Civic that they gifted me as a first car; impounded somewhere unknown and unrecognizable to us all.

i survived the crash, though my first car, a 95’ honda civic, did not

i survived the crash, though my first car, a 95’ honda civic, did not

In the months following, I was in a wheelchair, non-weight bearing on both legs, and unable to independently bathe, go to the toilet, or prepare food myself. Forced to slow down, reflect, and tune in with an ailing body and spirit, I began to see more of the support, love, and presence of my family who rallied to take care of me. 

This is when I first began to meditate and study my thoughts and emotions and what it was producing in my life. I began to question our culture’s propensity for compulsive doing over being, and noticed the values that I had internalized which were not true to my heart. The messages of Eckhart Tolle, Carl Jung and Thich Nhat Hanh came into my life; as well as the notions of mindfulness and self-realization. Over six challenging months in a wheelchair and in physical therapy, I witnessed my body heal itself. 

Prior to this crash, I was so busy living on autopilot and acting like I was in the passenger seat of my own life. If I had paid a bit more attention to my body, I wouldn’t have made the decision to go to yoga at 5am the same day as a work celebration that was expected to go into the night; or I would have found a safe friend to stay with in the city. Little did I realize that I was in the driver’s seat, literally and metaphorically, holding the power to destruct my life in the blink of an eye.

Seven years later, I think back to this time of trauma and healing often. Since gaining my capacities and independence to walk, run, bathe, and feed myself again, I’ve also studied my body with psychological training, intuitive movement, and somatic therapy. I remember too that this precious body is telling me something with every step taken, and that it’s up to me to listen and take care of it with attentiveness and devotion.

This experience has catapulted me into the work that I do today- using my expertise in my own life to be a kind, challenging and compassionate mirror and collaborative gardener for the well-being of others in the expansion of self-awareness; to plant the seeds of trustworthy spaciousness, to bring in knowledge through education and reflection, and to ask questions for deep introspection and self-realization.