THE OPPORTUNITY OF ADVERSITY

I’ve spent the past few days wondering if I am completely bonkers to have signed up to cycle 350 miles. To add insult to injury, yesterday I discovered my bike has been stolen – I hope the thieves have a better time than I did trying to get those pesky tires to inflate! 

Although, I know this challenge is going to be physically and mentally really difficult for me, I also know that I simply must complete it. Why? Well, because I am raising money for the most wonderful Charity – Help for Heroes.

But why Help for Heroes? Well, I have this amazing friend called Anna and I can honestly say that I don’t know what I’d do without her in my life. You may be wondering what is so special about Anna. Well, she happens to be one of the nicest, sweetest and kindest people I know. But – and this is the bit that makes her so special to me – when Anna and I met we both shared something in common – our significant others both had suffered significant physical injuries on the battlefield.

As a result of this she and I belong to this amazing club called the Band of Sisters, which is a support network run by Help for Heroes. It’s the one place in the world where we matter just as much as our wounded, injured or sick loved ones. 

I am no longer with my significant other and when we broke up I found myself in a place that I didn’t recognise; a place where it was hard to see the future, where it was hard to see hope, and almost impossible to understand how I was ever going to manage to put one foot in front of the other again. I couldn’t have got through our breakup if I didn’t have Anna’s love and support – she was by my side every step of that painful process.

If it wasn’t for the amazing support of ordinary, everyday people like all of you reading this blog, the Band of Sisters would not exist. If the Band of Sisters didn’t exist I would not have Anna in my life. Without Anna, well, I don’t want to consider what my life would look like without Anna in it.

The other thing I have discovered through the Help for Heroes Band of Sisters is the opportunity of adversity. That sounds strange, doesn’t it? Well, in the Band of Sisters we all come to the table with our own pains, struggles and crosses to bear. Often, there is no one else in the world that can or would understand what we’re going through. However, through the Band of Sisters, we become a life-line and support network for each other. Our very personal and real moments of adversity give us the opportunity to help others – and through helping others, we help ourselves.

Help for Heroes has given me and taught me so much – far more than I could ever repay. The obvious, is the Band of Sisters. But there is so much more.

I have learnt that when Help for Heroes intentionally chose to disregard the label of ‘disabled’ (and what the world assumes that means) they paved the way for my ex-husband – and others like him – to live with no limitations. For example, my ex was told that he would never walk again. However, with support and funding through Help for Heroes for cutting-edge orthotics he can now run.

Help for Heroes has given me the ability to believe – to totally and completely believe – that the impossible can be made possible and to trust in my own ability to overcome. After all, how could I do anything other than believe when I have seen the miraculous things that they have enabled our heroes to do – amputees skiing, paraplegics flying and those haunted by the mental scars of war smile, laugh and play with their loved ones once again. When you look at it that way, it really is extraordinary just how far belief can take you.

Help for Heroes has taught me that a broken body or mind doesn’t mean that the person is broken. They don’t disable. Rather, they enable those who have made such sacrifices to live a life beyond injury, free of the labels that the world might place on them. Don’t believe me – just have a quick google of ‘Help for Heroes Arch to Arc’ and get ready to suspend your disbelief.

 Did you know that the Collins Thesaurus entry for disabled reads as follows?

Differently Abled
Physically Challenged
Handicapped
Challenged
Weakened
Crippled
Paralysed
Impaired
Lame
Mutilated
Maimed
Incapacitated
Infirm
Bedridden

Yes, my ex-husband’s body might be broken, he may be disabled, but he is almost none of those things. And how do I know that? Well, I would ask you – would someone describable by those words have climbed Mt Kilimanjaro? Would they have trekked for 10 days to Everest Base Camp? Would they represent their country at Sledge Hockey, would they have competed and won medals at an international sporting event? All of those things he did with or because of Help for Heroes. So, I will say it again, because it is worth saying: Help for Heroes has given me, and taught me, so much – far more than I could ever repay.

So, if you think you can’t do something, I am telling you that you can. If you think something is impossible, I’m telling you to rephrase that word to say I’m possible, if you are feeling helpless, help someone – you will help yourself more than you could ever know.

And finally, never underestimate the power of belief and hope – after all, it is those things that will give you wings, allowing you to break-through anything and everything in life.

For me, it is time to put my money where my mouth is and complete this bike ride so I can raise as much money as I possibly can. It is my way of saying a very big thank you for all the incredible things this phenomenal Charity has done for me.  

If you can spare any change, please consider sponsoring me so Help for Heroes can change even more lives in the future.

Have a great weekend, 

Ela xoxo