Lessons after a blow to the head (Part 1: Self Love)


It’s been two and a half months since I had one of the worst surfing accidents in my life. A thirty-five foot faced wave landed on me during a big wave contest in Oregon. I didn’t ditch my board in time, as I was hoping to outrun the wave towards the shoulder. I now realize that would have been impossible.

The wave got me. It slammed me hard underwater into the dark depths of the Pacific. As I tried to pop up to the surface, I heard a “BOOM,” and my ten-foot, big wave gun landed on my left eyebrow. What was black turned into a flash.

Don’t pass out, I told myself.

I felt my brain doing a re-boot. Black-white-black-tiny stars. Next there was whitewater foam, and blood was pouring from a cut over my left eye, making vision next to impossible. My hands were waving in the air. “Help me!” There was a jet ski rescue, and I was back to the beach.

I knew the cut on my forehead was bad, but I didn’t know how bad the hit really was. At that moment, I thought the cut was the only problem…Oh, you’ll definitively need stitches, people around me said.


A visit to the ER mended the cut, and I thought that was all there was to it.

Later that night a strong fever crept in and took over. I was a shivering mess alone in a hotel room. Then vomiting led to a second ER visit. This time I learned that I hadn’t just suffered a cut on my face. I also had a concussion.

That was when the journey to a different life started. I began having constant headaches, deep fatigue, mood swings and an overall sense of discomfort.

Oh what a journey it has been! A journey of many lessons. And I didn’t share them with you before because nothing was clear for me yet. But today, I woke up with some awareness and the inspiration to get back on the keyboard once again.

Here is one of the lessons I’ve learned:

It all starts with self love.

Oh…this one could fill a whole book—a book I will write as I learn more about this lesson. Self love…what in the world is true self love?

I thought I knew what self love was, but I may have only known a tiny fraction of it. I thought it was all about self-care, following my joy (or my Hell Yeah!) at every given moment, being gentle to myself, and talking to myself as my best friend would.

Yet, when things got rough, when I woke up in the morning with a heavy dark cloud covering me and I didn’t know how in the world I was going to make it through the day, I had no clue how to apply this thing called self love.

For weeks, when I was feeling overwhelmed by the concussion, thoughts raced through my mind, over and over again. I rehashed each action I had taken that led to the accident. I blamed myself harshly for the decisions I made that led to that board landing on my head.

I kept blaming myself.

Why did I go to that contest, if I’m not pursuing surfing as a career anymore? Why was I positioned so much on the outside when the other competitors where on the inside? Why did I try to outrun the wave instead of bailing the board and diving deep? And why on earth didn’t I cover my head with my arms when I was underwater?

Then a few answers began to pop up.

I couldn’t out run the wave because I freaked out. I was freaked out because ten days earlier, I’d had another close call with death as I was surfing’s massive waves at Jaws.  The accident at Jaws happened because I was acting on pure, raw emotion and wasn’t thinking clearly when I decided to paddle out and catch the wave that I did. A few days later, when I went to Oregon, I panicked because I hadn’t given myself time to process the first episode at Jaws.

Jaws seq

Photo caption: Bad judgement at Jaws…where it all started. After going down on this wave, I had a massive set land on me that almost took my life. 

Yup, I said it. I had two serious accidents in two weeks. That thought alone embarrassed me. What a fool, kept running over and over in my brain.

On, on, and on the voice in my head was telling me, you were not ready for those waves.

Look what you did to yourself. Look how you made your family worry. Why did you feel that you needed to prove something to the world? Why after all these years of big-wave surfing did you suddenly do everything wrong?

I was ashamed, judging myself and in victim mode.

So how does self love fit into this equation? I don’t have a straight answer. I am still taking baby steps.

The first step I learned from my spiritual teacher was to take command of my rumbling, downward spiraling thoughts and tell my mind, we’ve done enough of this, and we’re not doing it anymore. We are not judging, blaming and shaming anymore.

After telling my mind that I now have command, like a parrot I began repeating a process of acceptance, forgiveness and loving,until it started to“click” within.

“I accept that I am judging myself.”

“I forgive that I am judging myself.”

The part of my mind that is judging is also part of me. It is a small, lovable part of me, and it deserves to be loved as well as the nice, beautiful, bright parts of me. Therefore:

“I love the part of me that is judging myself.”

The first steps towards moving into a new journey of self love were basically these:

1) “We are not doing this (blame, shame, guilt) anymore.”

2) “We now are going to Love the lovable parts of me that are in shame, guilt and blame.”

By loving those parts of me that I considered negative, I started to return to my oneness and began finding some peace within. Instead of living in a constant state of separation, trying to get rid of my “yucky stuff,” I have to learn how to love it.

The nature of the mind is to live in fear and separation. As long as we are in the human body, those aspects will try to run us, day in and day out.

I’ve learned that instead of trying to push the darkness away, I just have to love myself in that darkness. My darkness includes my own self-judgment, my fear of never recovering, my consistent headaches, and a depression I felt for not being able to do the things I wanted to do.

I just needed to stop for a minute and look at that part of myself that was going off, as a lovable part of me.

When a child has a tantrum, does that make him less lovable to his parents? No, he is still a lovable child. Same with us, we have those dark thoughts, yet they are a part of the nature of the mind that lives within us.

By loving my darkness, for the first time since my accident, I started to see a little light.

I’ll share the second lesson when the time is right. To be continued…



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