Never backwards always up…

Starting writing is always the hardest for me because it always starts with my scripted excuses of why I haven’t been doing it enough, thanking everyone for the constant ongoing support which I am still thriving off of and apologies for not getting back to as many of you as I wish I could… so now that that’s out of the way…

Life has been pretty damn good to me lately! I am truly blessed in every aspect of my life right now with Katrina, family, friends, work and our new puppy Quill… it’s all good! Every once in awhile when I take that much needed step back and soak it all in I don’t know how I came to be this blessed. January 11th was the two-year anniversary of breaking my neck and I thought I would be able to reflect at that point, May 7th was my two-year anniversary from leaving Craig Hospital and once again I thought I might be able to reflect on the past two years. I thought that writing everything down that happened to me in the past two years might have some sort of therapeutic advantage to my well-being but I found in my reflection process that internally I still have a lot of grieving going on for what I’ve gone through and put everyone I love through. It’s a really hard thing to explain and I wouldn’t expect anyone to understand, but in my shoes you can often feel like a burden on those around you and it’s a hard pill to swallow. Every time I say that to someone they say “Oh no you’re crazy you aren’t a burden to anyone”, and I know somewhere inside that they’re telling the truth but at the end of the day the feeling doesn’t go away. Going from being a strong independent young man, gallivanting all over the globe, not giving a shit about what lay around the corner or what I was leaving in my dust, to a somewhat helpless young man searching for what my real purpose in life is and trying to make sense of what I’ve learned thus far has been my life’s greatest challenge. I’m lucky I’ve got enough amazing people in my life to keep my head on straight and a great job that keeps me engaged and aspiring to accomplish more with my life because without that and without the freedom to run across town to meet up with a friend, go for a bike ride or run to let off some steam, do something spontaneous or even get in and out of bed on my own accord, I fear I would be groveling in my own self-pity. Thus far I’ve been able to chase away my sporadic onsets of depression brought on from the realization that spontaneity is hard to come by with the true gifts that I have surrounding me every day. I guess the moral of this rant is the thing I miss the most about my former body was the ability to be spontaneous and participate in the activities that I grew up loving. Now at the mention of going to see a concert, going out of town for business or friends getting together to skate, go to the mountain, play soccer or whatever… all that comes into my mind is the logistics involved if I even want to go and not necessarily participate. One of my friends asked me the other night what I’m doing to keep myself sane, what kind of activities do I have that help me relieve stress and get outside of the grind and have some fun…? Currently I’m short on answers.

I’m not sharing any of this because I want anyone’s pity or even advice for that matter. I’m just writing and this is what’s bubbling up. It’s hard not to be honest about yourself when you’re writing and I’ve always said that this is a form of self exploration so maybe the reason I decided to write here today is to stimulate some sort of ideas for myself that I can activate on so that I can actually feel like I’m having fun again. Don’t by any means take that as my life isn’t fun, I have plenty of laughs, I’m getting my sense of humor back as I feel more comfortable with new people and my reinvented life and being with Katrina and Quill are the happiest times of my life. I guess going from being an adrenaline junkie to sitting in a wheelchair it’s inevitable you have to slow down but when you’re slamming on the brakes the seat belt can get a bit uncomfortable. I know I’m going to find something that makes me fulfilled personally again and that time is eagerly anticipated. I’m glad I’m writing here today because it’s really inspiring me to get out there and find it… whatever it ends up being.

So enough about the void as it’s also important that I share with you the glass half full perspective. The mental growth and maturity that I’ve gained from the last two years is pretty insane when I really think about it. Imagine yourself sitting in a bathtub full of cement and that’s where you have to spend the majority of everyday… somehow I’m figuring out how to have patience with all the paralysis, spasticity, pain and helplessness that I feel when I am in my cement with no escape route in site. I have to be proud of myself for that because it even just saying it… reflecting on it… I’ve surprised myself with what I’ve been able to overcome and accomplish in my mind. I told Katrina the day she was driving me to the airport, also the last time she would see me walk, that I had always felt since I was a young kid that I was going to have to overcome something incredibly challenging in my life or that something big was going to happen to me… the day I came out of sedation in ICU I looked at her and mouthed “this is it”. I guess that feeling is what’s given me the strength to accept what’s happened to me and try and move forward with patience as though it had little effect. I’m glad that I can look back with no regrets and that I never wish to go back and change anything because despite everything that I miss… the mental growth is something that I would never give back.

I’ve had a really hard time with people telling me what I’m going through is “inspiring”. I think the reason for this is that even though they are doubting their own ability to go through this type of situation somehow I take it as an insult that it wouldn’t be the expectation of me to not skip a beat. Feels like people may not really know me as well as I’d like. I look at other people’s lives and all the shit that everyone goes through at one point or another and you can find a story of “inspiration” in the person closest to you right now and everyone you pass on the street. Everyone has their own mountains to climb in their life and I’m glad I got to climb some of mine literally before figuratively. Right now I’m at the base camp of Everest and maybe someday I’ll feel comfortable being called an inspiration when I’m standing on top. For now I’m just trying the best I can to be the same Riley I was before my injury, before moving to a place where no one really knows me, before I lost the most important part of what has molded me into who I am… traveling the world with great friends, making films, being fortunate enough to see places most people will never see and do things most people will never do. I will miss all those things but the most important things that I have left are my friends from every stage of life and for you all I’m going to keep climbing.

I really truly appreciate all the ongoing support and I pull from it every day as strength to move forward, never backward and always up.

Riley

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