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  • Writer's pictureHeather Morrison-Tapley

When I became partially paralyzed, and then life fully fell apart. It turns out it was a blessing.

Four years ago this month I suddenly became paralyzed from the waist down over the course of about 4 hours while at work. I wasn't fully paralyzed, I could just barely walk, though I was staggering and had little control of my legs, and no feeling or reflexes at all in my legs and feet. I couldn't run, my legs would not make the movements, and I was stumbling and falling into walls or grabbing furniture to stay standing. I had no idea what had happened and ended up in the hospital having multiple MRIs and a spinal tap. Turns out I hat Transverse Myelitis, luckily not as badly as I could have. I suffered only partial paralysis and, later, constant pain in my feet. Nothing worse. And it could have been life altering. Three months later we moved our children from the only home they had known, 600 miles away to a new town. A few months after that my mother died suddenly and twelve weeks later my marriage of 12 years ended. I was in the lowest place of my life. I was working locally in my new acupuncture practice, but also commuting once a week back to my old town - driving 5 hours each way and working an 8 hour day in the middle, returning home 18 hours after I'd left. I was exhausted and emotionally, physically, spiritually fully depleted. It turns out I had had a strange rare, luckily one time, illness that had caused my body to attack my spinal cord causing the paralysis. I recovered enough to be able to walk and jog, but I had constant pain. Then there was the emotional pain all of us were going through from the divorce, and the massive grief of losing my mother. It was all happening and once and it took all my effort just to get through each day. But from this darkest place, a new life emerged, better than I could have imagined. This is what I learned: sometimes when life fully falls apart, it is just a chance to create something beautiful. It is your own higher self knowing that you need more. The key to creating that better life, I believe, is actually simple. You must have a vision of what you want. Exactly what you want. And then work toward that goal every day. The longer you do this, the more the universe starts to help create that vision too. One of my favorite quotes is, "You just have to know what. You don't have to know how." Just know exactly what you want, you don't have to know how to get it. Most of the miracles in my life have come in ways I alone could not possibly have orchestrated. A higher hand, a higher power, was at work. I once decided I wanted a Volvo as they were the safest cars and I had two babies. I held that vision and two weeks later my parents bought a new car and sold me their very nice volvo at a great price. I lived in a walk up apartment and one day drove by some cozy homes in the next town over and thought I wanted to have a house with a yard in that town. Due to complications in my pregnancy I was told I couldn't walk up stairs and suddenly we found ourselves in a house with a big yard in that town. The biggest proof of miracles was that, at that same time, we were struggling financially and I decided on a large amount of money that would help us really get set up - debt free, own our home, etc. I had an exact number in mind which seemed outrageous to me at the time. Just weeks later I was told by my parents that a certain investment had come to fruition and I was given that exact sum of money, to the penny, I had been visualizing. It was crazy. But those experiences made me know deep in my gut that even in the hardest, lowest times, I could create an amazing life.

Slowly, from that dark place, I healed. At first I kept to the basics, so important in times of deep grief: I made sure I ate well, got some exercise, saw or spoke with people who loved me, went to bed and slept on a regular schedule. At first this may be all you can manage in a day. It was for me, other than tending to my children who were also suffering greatly. Then slowly I thought - what do I want to come from all this destruction? I didn't want that pain to be wasted, to lead to more confusion or unhappiness. So I created an image in my mind of a beautiful peaceful stable home, abundance in my work and an ability to stop commuting hundreds of miles, happy balanced children, good health and a body that functioned and felt great, and great friends and community in my new town. I had no desire to add romantic love into that mix for a long time. I was healing, learning and constructing a life for myself and my kids, that was my only focus for over two years. And then one day I looked up and I had all those things: A beautiful home with large garden, swimming pool, room for all of us and our animals (we have 7!), a busy acupuncture practice where I have a beautiful office two miles from my home and where I earn enough to support my family, good health, wonderful friends in a town with a great community, and a truly joyful heart. But the love bit was the hardest part to heal. One of the important parts of moving on after loss is knowing it's ok to stop grieving. It's ok to be happy. That staying stuck in grief helps no one, and it was in fact holding me and my children back from fully healing. For that last part, healing my heart, I worked with some energy healers and a Peruvian Shaman, and even my new agey acupuncturist self was skeptical. But one ritual with the shaman and I suddenly let go of the last big piece of grief and was ready to add love back into my life - love. Almost instantly I met an amazing man who is loving, kind, hard working, spiritual, hilarious, wonderful with my boys. And in the ultimate message from the universe, he works in heart surgery - he literally heals hearts.

Four years ago I couldn't even have imagined how beautiful my life could be. I have a great relationship with my ex-husband and we co-parent our boys with consideration and with kindness and with genuine friendship together. Life is good. And really, the road to getting here was simple: Be kind to myself, take good care of myself, take good care of my children, and then imagine the life I wanted. Out of the ashes rose this life, and I am daily grateful, and a little in awe, of how blessed I am. The secret to "The Secret" - the wildly popular book about the laws of manifestation - is no secret really. It is that when we go to that place in ourselves that is connected to the entire universe, that piece of us that is eternal and larger than our problems and our emotions, when we go to that place and make a commitment to happiness, to joy, to health and to abundance, the universe responds. And miracles do happen.

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