Healing and Living Vertically

Sarah Foley from @verticalblonde shares her story about healing after her accident and her coined term "living vertically." All photos done by @solphotogrphy

There will be moments in your life that will cut you off at the knees. Things beyond your control will absolutely break you down or tear you apart. You will hate it and you will hate how it feels. Heartache is inevitable, accidents will occur, you may even get very sick. Once you catch your breath, lift your head, close your eyes, resist asking why, and instead ask, “How is this serving me?” In that instant, you are taking advantage of the gift of choice. This gift is always there for the taking, yet it’s often forgotten about.

A little over seven years ago I was in an ATV accident that paralyzed me instantly from the waist down. I used to refer to it as a “tragic accident”, but within the past couple of years, I have dropped the tragedy. Yes, it was horrific. It absolutely turned my entire world upside down and I had to do a lot of healing - and I mean a lot of healing. And those moments of healing were some of the best moments of my life. I loved them so much. To be given full permission to just feel the emotions in every inch of my soul was one of the biggest blessings of my life. Up until then, I had sort of been shaped to always keep a smile on my face and be everyone’s ray of sunshine, which carries with it a lot of undue pressure. When you go through something so life-altering, you are given sort of carte blanche for being sad, angry, frustrated and grief stricken.

Lucky for me, I did have that ray of sunshine at my disposal, and I was given stern orders very early by my aunt to never ask why it happened to me. She told me searching for an answer would simply eat me alive and that answer would come when it was supposed to - and I obeyed. All of this became the perfect recipe to come out better than I went in and enabled me to truly heal without getting lost in the victim abyss. I’ve seen the victim mentality wreak havoc on so many after going through an experience similar to mine, and it’s not a place I want to visit. If you are someone who is constantly pointing out how bad everything is in your life, ask yourself how that is serving you. Most likely it gets your attention or enables you to get out of doing things, but that only gives you the wrong kind of attention and makes you lazy. It is not helping you grow and it will repel relationships. There is definitely a better way.

I found myself enjoying the process of healing. I came to respect the feelings that would come up, tending to them like wounds, knowing they would heal faster the more I cared for them. As feelings came up, I gave them permission to run their course, always keeping in mind that depression meant “depressed emotions”. I journaled constantly and when my pen would hit the paper, I released expectations and just got curious. It was incredible the insight I got from getting out of my own way and free writing. My mind would unravel and my heart would tell me what it needed. I discovered things from childhood that I needed to heal, I gave myself closure for old hurts and I truly embraced self-love. I gave myself the attention and love I craved so that I could release the need to find it outside of myself. I allowed the emotions, hurts, traumas and celebrations to elevate me and enrich my life with experience that I could then share and empathize with others. I realized the more I healed myself, the more I could help others heal, giving me the ultimate gift of purpose and joy.

Finding growth in all experiences, feeling and healing all the emotions that come up in the process and enjoying all the beauty that comes with it is what I call Living Vertically. There is a better way to overcome the things in our lives that disable us, it’s the vertical way. It’s incredible what happens when you allow those moments to add a new meaning to your life, deepen connections with others, refocus your attention on what matters most and find your own purpose. Most often we find our true calling in life after going though our hardest times. Those times can either break us down or build us up into something out of this world - the choice is always yours. Choose Vertically.