Catch A Glimpse Of Yourself In The Mirror
by Christine Rucci
Imagine waking up tomorrow morning just like any other day. You make your way to the bathroom to brush your teeth, and catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror. The only thing is the reflection looking back is unrecognizable. “Who is that hideous person in the mirror?” This happened to me on May 27, 1983. I wouldn't see my reflection for three weeks after the accident. The trauma I suffered would take over three decades to recover from psychologically. My body was unharmed.
I was ejected from the passenger seat, while traveling at 67 MPH. I hit the highway surface face first as witnessed by a PA State Trooper. He was approximately 500 feet away from the tragic event. It was his quick thinking and actions that would save my life that day.
Saved for whatever reason? I would ask myself for years, “Why me?” My face was completely shattered. I did not look like “me” nor would I ever again. When I was finally aware of my surroundings on that Monday, I had no idea what happened. I was in the hospital, hooked up to a respirator which made it impossible to speak. My eyes were swollen shut. I immediately began to panic. Then I heard a calming voice. My mom "Chrissy" said, "You were in an accident and are in the hospital." I had no idea what she was talking about. The doctors said I had severe facial trauma.
I eventually healed from the initial trauma and was discharged. I went home, but this was just the beginning. There would be over thirty surgical procedures performed that would try to regain some sense of normalcy. I would spend years going through pain and operating rooms. I would ultimately become a nurse because of what I had gone through. Our society places an enormous amount of pressure on women to fit in. You have to be beautiful and thin or somehow you are worthless.
I never thought of myself as beautiful or even pretty...just average. My friends were much prettier than me, but now I was absolutely hideous. That is not acceptable in our society. People would just stare at me when I first went out in public. I would hear the whispers, the laughing and see the finger pointing. Unfortunately, some would just say mean things. "Get a new face" was the worst. How can a perfect stranger just go by me and say such mean things? How I survived all of this is still a mystery.
Right from the start I was in denial. That lasted for quite a long time. I lived my life as a very angry person. This led to excess drinking. I never thought I could or would ever be happy again. Even after becoming an OR nurse, my dream after the surgery was almost done. I wasn't living. I was just trying to get through each day as it came...never caring about the consequences.
From the outside looking in, my life seemed perfect. I had a great career, and a cute one-bedroom condominium. One would think that my life was good. Behind closed doors I cried, I drank and I mourned. I mourned the loss of self. My life would spiral out of control because of the drinking. I saw only one way out of this situation I was in: “After wading in the “victim pool” and drowning myself in alcohol for many years, I came to realize that only I could save me. I had to be the one to pull myself out of this pool of self-destruction.” So that is just what I did.
My life did not change overnight. It took years but I was committed. Unless you are committed to changing your life, nothing will happen. I stayed focused. I changed direction in my nursing career towards the education side of it. The rebirth of my nursing career and putting down the drinking was only half of it.
I wanted my relationship with my brothers and sisters back. Like I said, it took time but now…eight years after the fact, we are closer than ever. We are a family again. They have their sister back. I am still the same on the outside, but I no longer base my worth on that reflection in the mirror. It took over three decades for me to heal from the psychological trauma that came with the accident. I have healed, and telling my story in hopes to help others to never give up.
I was sick of letting the world tell me what I was worth. I am telling the world what I am worth. I am a nurse, an educator, a sister, a daughter and a friend.
Now, I am also an author!
"Too Phased” A remarkable true story by Christine A. Rucci.
“A car accident that left my face severely damaged. The emotional healing took decades and involved over 30 agonizing surgeries — it left me searching for my identity. For years, I tried to dull the pain with alcohol. I sabotaged my relationships and vacillated between anger and depression. True healing came from within, as I stopped valuing myself based on my looks and began to recognize my own worth as a nurse, a sister, an aunt, a friend and an educator.”
TONY'S COMMENT: As per Christine Rucci: “After wading in the “victim pool” and drowning myself in alcohol for many years, I came to realize that only I could save me. I had to be the one to pull myself out of this pool of self-destruction.”
Yes, I've waded and almost “drowned” in the “victim pool.” People like Christine saved me by means of example. Many thanks!
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