Everyone shares a fear of 'losing face', of losing all that defines us as unique individuals in the world and of losing the status that comes with that image. In 1994, as the result of a head-on collision with a drunk driver, I literally
lost my face and all that I had previously relied on for my sense of identity.
When I glanced in the mirror on my way out the door that night, I had no way of knowing that that would be the last time that I would ever see my same, familiar reflection. In a single unanticipated moment, as headlights appeared from around the corner in my lane,
life as I had always known it changed forever.
My limbs were badly fractured. Broken bones tore through my skin. My ribs were broken. My lungs were punctured. And, while there were no cuts to my face, the impact with the steering wheel shattered every bone in my facial skeleton from my jaw to my forehead leaving no fragments larger than 1½ cm.
Until that moment, I had been an active, adventurous, physically fit and fiercely independent individual. In fact, I thought I was invincible. In the long, drawn-out, moment as I saw the headlights hurtling in my direction, I realized how very wrong I was.
Although my body survived, I felt as though ‘I
’ had died. In the long journey that followed, as I slowly recovered from my physical injuries, I was confronted with the sometimes desperate, solitary, challenge of recovering my self
– the ‘me’ behind the face, the body, the personality and achievements. My book ‘Losing Face’ published by Harper Collins is the story of that journey.
All of us have an 'image' of ourselves that we believe is who we truly are. Take a moment to imagine how you would respond to the question “Who are you?” ….
Whatever your answer, that’s the ‘face’ you present to the world and have come to believe is who you truly are. Most people will include their job, their marital status or their family roles in their answer.
But who would you be if you were no longer somebody’s husband or wife? If you no longer had a job or children to shape your daily life? If you couldn’t be productive or actively pursue your interests?..…Who are you really?
I lost much more than my face, physical well-being and independence that night. I lost my entire sense of who I was without those things to hang my identity on. Without that familiar anchor, everything changed.