On April 4, 1987, I lost myself. I was a senior at Protection High School in a tiny Kansas town out in the boonies, as we called it. I guess I would have been described as spunky, friendly, and smart. I still get teased by my parents because I never wanted to miss a night of "dragging main" with my friends. On the night of April 4th, two of my friends and I were driving around town, drinking beer, and listening to loud music, as we often did on weekend nights. That night we got bored, so we drove 15 miles to Coldwater, a slighly larger town with cuter boys. We got into some trouble while there, and then headed back to Protection. We were celebrating one girl's birthday, so she was honored with riding shotgun while the other girl drove. I was in the backseat sorting through my cassette tapes creating our soundtrack for the night. "Sunglasses at Night" by Corey Hart was playing, and we were all wearing our sunglasses even though it was late in the evening on a dark country highway. I recall the passenger yelling the driver's name, and as I looked up to see what was going on, I saw headlights. The next thing I remember is lying on the ground unable see. The world was black, and I was cold. A male friend from high school was beside me telling me that I had been in an accident. I can remember asking repeatedly if I would have scars. I guess when you are an eighteen-year-old girl, looks are all that really matter. Next was a small town emergency room, family talking to me, telling my dad that I loved him, and a bumpy ride in an ambulance to larger town. Somewhere along the way, my clothes were sliced off, and I had no idea what else had been cut. Once the mud and blood were removed from my eyes, I could see, but I still did not know that I had a scratch on my eyelid, a small section of ear missing, deep abrasions on the entire right side of my face, and cuts on my arm and back. Wounds that resulted in scars to last a lifetime. On that night, I lost a little innocence, some spunk, lots of blood, and all of myself.
Who I was instantly disappeared as I went through the hatchback and landed in the barbed wire. It has taken me years to recreate myself. Due to a closed head injury and posttraumatic stress, I struggled in college, even though I had been a straight A student and valedictorian of my middle and high school classes. I cried at the sound of sirens that I heard outside my dorm room, and I failed college. Across several years, I made many bad decisions and created chaos in my life. I believed that I had no real potential, and my expectations for myself diminished. I was told I would likely never do well in college, and I believed it. Yet, here I am, and when I end this blog, I'll sign my name Stephanie Michele Morris, Ph.D. I am reinvented, and I am spunky, friendly, and smart. Most importantly, I found who I was meant to be, and I am proud of who I am. I work as a psychologist now, and I am certain that living through April 4, 1987 has resulted in a deep understanding of pain, trauma, transitions, and life. I am an amazing psychologist, and I believe that is due to having once lost myself.
-Stephanie Michele Morris, Ph.D.