Why do I host COLOR Parties? To answer this question you must first understand where my story begins.
Like this girl staring into the candles, I too was wondering how can such things exist like light, beauty, and happiness, lifetimes outside of your grasp. You see them right there in front of you. Dancing as smokey wisps, taunting you to reach for them, but when you do, Poof!, they vanish into thin air. All you’re left with is another reminder that trauma has forever changed your life.
Before my first COLOR Party in April, I went to a yoga class at Just B taught by the lovely Lacey. This class focused on being in a state of transition. If there is one thing I have learned about life after brain injury and now PTSD it is the joy of constant transition. When I saw a Facebook event for this class my intuition screamed, “GO TO THIS CLASS! THIS CLASS IS MEANT FOR YOU!”. With the help of a friend nudging me to go I bravely got in her car, leaving the safety of my home, traveling 1.9 miles…worried, terrified, and on high alert they entire way there. Going to this class helped me a lot. I started thinking about where I was at in my recovery. What did I need from myself? What did I need from my community? What did I need to go from merely surviving to thriving? Towards the end of the class Lacey asked us to write a letter to ourselves which she would mail to us at a later date. By the time I got the letter in the mail I had forgotten all about it. It was a delightful surprise!
I never expected to share this letter with anyone. To understand my story, to get a glimpse into life after brain injury and PTSD, this letter needs to be shared.
I am so proud of you. You didn’t always want to stay alive. You have lost so much at such a young age, yet you continue to fight, to find creative solutions and more importantly you are still here.
You are still here. You choose to keep living. To breathe. To get out of bed. To find the strength to crawl through the dark days when you can’t walk. I am so proud of you.
I love and respect you. You are different. Yes, this is true. You will never ever be the same. But you know what? That is okay.
Compassion is what you need from your community and yourself as you continue on this journey of transition.
And don’t be afraid to call people out on discrimination. Use your voice. Never ever stop using your voice.
Silent no more, my friend.
Writing this letter is what made me decide to host COLOR Parties. It is what gave me the courage to say I can try this. And if I fail, if it doesn’t work because my brain hasn’t healed enough yet, then that’s okay. My period of transition has not ended. I am still in the thick of it. People like to ask, “How can I help? or What can I do?”. The answer is, I have no idea. I have no idea because I am still trying to figure out who this New Me is. Transition. There’s that word again. Time, it takes so much time, to heal from trauma. Then it takes even more time to figure out how to live again after trauma. I am still doing both.
Why do I host COLOR Parties?
This is me right before the May COLOR Party @americanfifth was about to jump off. I was both terrified and excited. Twenty people! Twenty whole people were about to show up for cocktails and coloring and for the first time in over a year I was running the show. I used to do this sort of thing all the time, except now I have a flared brain injury and PTSD. The PTSD part of me was screaming at me to RUN! Run for the hills. Run and never stop, keep running until no people, or sight of civilization can be found. I had to fight that urge with every ounce of strength and courage my well dressed self could muster. See that's the thing about invisible injuries, illnesses, and disabilities, no one can see the battle waging within. No one, not a single soul can see how hard someone like me is working just to appear "normal." This is also WHY I am hosting coloring parties. To raise awareness for us Invisibles as I fondly like to call my fellow survivors. It will take a lot of repeating, people are funny that way, we require hearing the same message multiple times if it is something we cannot see with our eyes or touch with our hands. But that's ok because in my former life I educated people about environmental pollution that you couldn't see or touch, so I figure if anyone is going to tackle this issue, I'm just the woman for the job because I have gobs of practice. 💪🏻 Save the Date for our next COLOR Party: June 22, 7-9pm @americanfifth 🎨 P.S. It's officially my Birthday Month! Going to be a good one. Happy Birthday to all the June Babies! 🎈
Trauma changed my life forever. BUT it also gave my life purpose. I am dedicating my life to raising awareness for brain health (a.k.a. mental health) and making the world a brighter place for trauma survivors. This is deeply personal for me. I am pouring my blood, sweat, and tears into this. Every minute of every day I think about the thousands of people out there, like me, who are screaming for acceptance, access to resources, and compassion. I am making plans. Brainstorming. Noting connections to be made. I can and will do this. My normal may not look like everyone else’s, but that doesn’t mean I still don’t have something to contribute to the world. It doesn’t mean I still can’t be a social entrepreneur. It doesn’t mean I can’t create organizations that drive social change.
Because I can!
If you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading another part of my story. There are still many more parts to tell. I made a promise to myself this year to bravely tell me truth. Not an easy thing to do. With each little nugget I become braver and sitting down to tell my truth doesn’t seem quite so scary.
I dedicate this to all the survivors out there. May you come to a place where you thrive. You deserve it!
P.S. Do come to my next COLOR Party! if you live in Lansing.
It’s tomorrow, Wednesday, June 22nd at American Fifth from 7-9 p.m. Grab a Ticket!