Fierce Friday: Abby O’Bryan

What makes you a L I O N?

@abbyobryan: “There was this one moment in my life that will always stay with me. (I should preface this by saying that about 4-5 weeks prior to this moment, I was in a traumatic accident where I almost lost my leg, but lucky there are miracle doctors in the world, and I now have a mostly functional leg.)

I’m sitting on my bedroom floor sobbing. I’ve just fallen trying to get up and use the restroom, and my broken leg has fallen with me. However, I’m not actually sobbing because of the pain. I’m sobbing because of an overwhelming feeling of helplessness. It’s been a heavy weight I’ve been carrying with me for weeks now. A kaleidoscope of emotions resembling: resentment, depression, and isolation. I’ve been building and suppressing these emotions since I was in the hospital. I can’t bathe myself, I can’t walk, I can barely eat without someone forcing a protein shake down my throat, and I can’t even go to the bathroom by myself. I’ve been trying to hide these feelings by isolating myself. No one likes a downer, right? I’ve been telling my friends and family how great I’m doing with recovery and that they don’t need to make any special trips to visit me. I don’t want anyone to see how broken and weak I really feel on the inside. I don’t know how to process this darkness that’s starting to fill me up.

My mom comes in and sees me on the floor and immediately takes me in her arms. This time I can’t hold myself together. We just sit there. Both of us holding each other. Both of us sobbing. Then it all comes out. I share my weaknesses and my darkness with my mom and I feel that weight lift a little bit. I share my depression, my isolation, my resentment, and it’s lifted even more. And suddenly a little light of hope starts to fill the space where the darkness was. I have never felt such immense vulnerability in my life. For the first time I found my strength. My strength is like a lions in that I get strength from my pride, or from those closest to me. I find a beautiful strength in being okay with vulnerability and letting people see my weakness.”

What makes you H U M B L E?

@abbyobryan: “I am humbled by my experiences and my inabilities. It has taken me some time reflecting to find the right words to really grasp that. I am humbled each time I look at the scars on my legs and see that not only am I able to walk, but that I am fortunate that my life was saved by circumstance. Not only am I humbled by my personal experience, but I’m humbled listening to the experiences of others. I love to listen people’s stories. I crave to understand every thought and emotion they carry with them. I want to know their every up and down, light and dark. What makes me humble is my desire to understand growth and do my best to help those who seek it, while learning from them along the way.”

I’ve admired @abbyobryan since we scraped by in our Press Law and Ethics class at @wku some 5 years ago now. About two months after her traumatic water skiing accident, my dad had his traumatic logging accident. Through two very unfortunate circumstances, we reconnected when Abby and her family welcomed me into their home in Louisville while she was recovering and my dad was in the Critical Care Unit at the OofL hospital. They fed me chili and I’m pretty sure we watched at least one Disney film. It’s amazing to see how far we have both come since that season.

During mine and @austincurrent_’s recently short-lived stint in Louisville, I was able to reconnect with Abby a couple more times. We squeezed in a barre workout like old times and she came over for this sweet shoot and a visit right before we moved to Colorado. It was so good to hear what was on her adventurous heart! If you’ve ever been through a truly traumatic experience, you know how much it will mold you into a new version of yourself. It will always be a part of who you are, but @abbyobryan perfectly exemplifies that you do not have to be defined by these events. I am so grateful and proud to call you a friend, Abby.

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