Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud fathered the idea behind the psychoanalytical term called the “Complex,” as a core pattern of emotions, memories, perceptions, and wishes in the personal unconscious organized around a common theme. There’s the differentiation between personal consciousness and collective consciousness. The latter binds us together as a species, and the two intertwine with each other and shape who we are.

As an entrepreneur, my job requires me to be in control of the company’s growth, successes and failures — learning experiences. They are expected and part of the process, but still, a certain level of success is required to maintain operations and ultimately make sure employees can be paid. Because of this, I’ve had to grow from a typical twenties mindset that might not be as financially responsible, to one that is hyper vigilant. Projecting, anticipating, and foreseeing worst-case scenarios are part of who I am. Working for yourself in any capacity (as a writer, artist, anything) can be freeing and liberating, but it can also make anyone feel trapped, if not kept in check. It’s that sense of constant control that can spiral to the point of grabbing your life and squeezing the other aspects from it. You start to realize you haven’t spoken to a best friend in months, and she just had a baby. Another is in remission from cancer. When did she even get diagnosed? How did two years fly by that quickly? I started to realize that my work ethic, while good for work, was leading to an unbalanced life. It made me ask: How do you realize the difference between a passion and having a complex?

Working in beauty really is my passion. It gave me a sense of empowerment and projecting how I felt on the inside. My sitting in a wheelchair became irrelevant, because I learned to figure out how to do what I want in a different kind of way. I didn’t want people to notice the metal frame I sit on. I wanted them to smile and talk to me, like anyone else, and I wanted to feel like you.

The power of projection is strong in the psyche, and maybe there’s an ounce of vanity to all of it, but then again, we’re all human. In fact, one of the first signs of depression is not caring for one’s appearance. But still, the passion of my career is only part of it, as with anything. There’s the acknowledgement of risk, responsibility, and tenure that comes with taking anything seriously. Part of this is because of my spinal cord injury, but it is also inherent to my core. My injury has made me more aware of what I want to do, the sense of purpose, and also gave me more of a sense of urgency. What I never realized is how quickly the idea that grew to be bigger than myself started to define who I was, all the while I felt like I was still learning who I am.

As I continue to undergo adult stem cell therapies, I am seeing physical progress that had been unforeseen in my medical diagnosis 10 years ago. Two weeks ago, my doctor told me I was getting back trace movements in my left toes and left calf during my routine neurological exam. Naturally, I told him to shut up and try it again. I honestly did not believe him. I’ve been doing five hours of physical therapy everyday since my injury, and for a while, I wasn’t sure what the future would hold for me. Was I becoming too focused on regrowing axons in my spine that I was shutting out the rest of my life? Was this search for a cure becoming a neurosis, a cure that was defined by medicine as impossible? And who can even answer these questions? I had thought to myself that I was becoming a machinist, almost robotic, with my diligent workouts, and work was the same. Clark’s Botanicals was growing into its next phase, which I am grateful for, but time just wasn’t there.

The schism between the two is what felt like a betrayal. I could excel at work, knowing the effort and time put in, but what about making your body heal itself? Just because I was dedicating so much time to my recovery, the actually recovery felt like a flat line, and almost like a failure.

“Yeah, your toes are moving. It’s a trace movement, and it’s in your calf as well.”

I lay on the examination table in the office, stunned. I wasn’t expecting this. He wrote it all down in my chart, the prognosis: that definition many people with any sort of ailment dread. But it was different this time because it was better, and just like that; I realized there’s a chance for anything, especially to live.

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