Waking up in a hospital bed, cold objects attached to my limbs and a machine vociferously informing me that I was still breathing. I slowly read the sign posted to the side of the bed:

“You are in SF General Hospital.

Your head hit the railway track and

you suffered a severe brain injury.

It′s Oct. 20, 2012”

The confusion begins… “what year was it supposed to be??? I can not even remember the day I was born”. The months that ensued followed a similar pattern, lethargy, bewilderment and immobilized. My bruised neurons struggled to connect and could not transport the command to my body. My brain was in constant overloaded, and like a computer with memory
problems trying to handle too much information, it crashed and shut down. Everything was OVERWHELMING.

Those months after the accident were spent on recuperating and re- learning. It was HARD. The underlying FEAR was that I was not going to be person who I was before. I desperately clung to the idea. I could not possibly imagine my life “his way.”; I remember the day I broke down crying from frustration. Speaking to my cousin on the phone, I asked her how my aunt Gata was doing. She said sadly: “Aunt Gata died.”; Hurt and angry, I responded: ”why didn′t anyone tell me?” My cousin patiently responded: “Margarita, you were at the funeral”. [Silence] What could I say? I felt like crawling into the deepest, darkest corners of myself and disappearing.

In a short span of 20 years, I have confronted the possibility of death 11 times and somehow, absurdly, this indisputable fact had not registered. I had devised a strategy called: Elaborate Defense Mechanism. Which meant I could trivialize even the scariest, painful, dangerous, dehumanizing and desperate moments as insignificant and move on. Which implied that every moment was an isolated experience unworthy of  my attention. I was unable to see the patterns, thus unable to learn from them and consequently incapable of observing the bigger picture.

When the insight arrived, it felt like a bucket of cold water over my bruised head. There was a deeper meaning, a connection between these events, like an invisible, underlying link.

Plainly stated: I AM THE PATTERN.

Beyond the world of justifications, excuses, explanations and external blame, there is a more truthful, conscious and self-aware world that says it like it is, with no sugar coat. It is at that point that I realized that I did not want to go back to the “indifferent, full of self-defense mechanisms person” I was before the accident. The fear I experienced of having clung  on to that idea of who I was, no longer seemed appealing. As the fear fizzled away it was replaced by the excitement of a new opportunity. Through this new awareness, I began the challenging reconstruction of myself and came to fully understand: “never be afraid to fall apart, this is the opportunity to rebuild yourself the way you wish you had been all along.”

I can look back now and feel immense gratitude for the experience, as challenging as it was. It existed because I needed to learn about myself. Nonetheless, it leads me to ask the following question:

Do we have to wait for the universe to hit us brutally on the head with something that resembles a cosmic hammer, to force us into WAKING UP?

My gut, says, “No,” we don′t have to wait to hit rock bottom, for a stress generated melt-down, for cancer, divorce, a loved-one′s death or being fired to consciously change our lives.

I can decide NOW to open my eyes, to look inside, dig deep and resurface stronger, wiser and rejuvenated.

Margarita Pareja-Stoyell
Co-Founder (Co-fundadora) Beyond