In the blink of an eye, a person's entire existence can change forever. At eighteen, Samantha Michael learned this in the most challenging way imaginable, when she was in a severe car crash at the hands of an impaired driver. After being rescued from the accident, Samantha was comatose and barely alive. Later, as she emerged from her coma, she would come to discover that terrifying moment was not the end but the beginning-the beginning of a lifetime of challenges and changes, tribulations and triumphs.
With wisdom, grace and humour, Samantha recounts the aftermath of her injury and her personal, medical and emotional struggles to win back the happiness which was taken from her. She describes the impact on her family and friends, the lasting physical trauma with which she had to struggle, the pain of deferred dreams and the joy of eventually reclaiming her life and self, piece by piece, day by day. The Beauty of My Shadow will pluck a range of emotional chords as the reader experiences the euphoria, hope, doubt, fear, love and other feelings Samantha herself lived through in the days since her life was forever altered.
Written candidly and from the heart, Samantha's story gives hope to those who have suffered similar trauma, as well as those who are simply wrestling with the ordinary challenges of daily life. Her memoir serves as a powerful reminder of the strength and versatility of the human spirit-that while adversity derails our path in life, undefeatable perseverance often helps us discover another route to take. A percentage of author royalties from the sale of this book are donated to charity. See book for details. Donated royalties are net of commissions.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.62(d)|
Read an Excerpt
The Beauty of my Shadow
A Story of Strength
By S. D. Michael
AuthorHouse LLCCopyright © 2014 S.D. Michael
All rights reserved.
The loud voices at the front door penetrate the noise of the house party. It is after midnight and Sofia and Jason are arguing. As the host of this party in 2008, I am concerned and stand with the guests who have gathered to watch them fight.
Sofia's voice slurs as she demands that Jason gives her the car keys. They were at one time boyfriend and girlfriend, so they know each other well.
"Try to stop me," Sofia says.
Jason's jaw tightens.
"Spend the night here with Samantha or get a sober ride home with us," he says.
Sofia stumbles towards him. Her long brown hair flies everywhere while she clumsily attempts to grab for the keys. Jason pulls his hand back, causing her to fall against the door. She shows a devilish smile while squinting her dark brown eyes at him.
"Listen asshole," she says. "Give me my fucking keys!"
I met Sofia and Jason at a local Latin and ballroom dance school where I have been taking lessons for the past few years. This is the first time we have socialized outside the studio. I look at the people watching the fight and see Sofia's roommate, Julie, who came with her to the party.
"What's going on?" I ask.
"Jason is trying to stop her from taking off in her car. She behaves this way a lot when she drinks." Julie pauses, looks at her friend and then says, "She's a stubborn drunk."
"On the invite, I told her she could sleep here if she needed to," I say.
Julie shakes her head, showing a mixed expression of concern and objection. "We brought two cars for this reason. We thought one of us has a ride home and the other can stay," she says. "Now she wants to go home. Sometimes she's unstoppable when she gets like this but she has never hurt anyone."
"She easily could though," I say. I am surprised to hear her say what she just did.
At this point, Sofia, who is in her thirties and well built, shoves Jason in another grab for her keys. I decide to intervene.
"Sofia, you are not getting the keys," I say. "Someone will take you home but you're not driving."
"Don't worry, she won't be getting behind the wheel," Jason assures me.
Sofia shoves him again. He stands, unmoveable in front of the door. She reaches behind him, laughing as he stops each try. The two of them have obviously played this game before.
A commercial on television comes to mind where a guy says to a drunk something like, "Hey buddy, give me your keys". Then the drunk passively hands the keys over. But that is an advertisement, not real life. Sofia is nowhere near as compliant.
"What do you want me to do, Jason?" I ask.
When Sofia realizes Jason and I are talking about her, she becomes even more agitated.
"You're both stupid," she says loudly, reaching for the keys again. Frustrated that she cannot get them, she whips her head around to stare right at me. Anger flaming in her eyes, she stiffens her fist and arm.
"You give me the fucking keys. Now!" she yells as her eyes dart back and forth from my eyes to my right cheek. "Or else I'm going to hit you both in the fucking head!"
Her eyes are glued to my cheek. I know she is checking out my facial scar. I am thirty-five years old now but the accident that left me with this scar when I was a teenager is still fresh in my mind. Instinctively, my fingertips brush the scar's smooth, lumpy bumps. I step back. Jason notices my reaction and seems to want to protect me.
"I'll handle her," he says to me. "She won't hurt you."
The threat of getting punched in the head startles me and I go sit on the stairs. I am no longer focused on Sofia. What is happening for me emotionally now has my attention. I know anger. I know frustration. But this is different. This is life and death.
"When I was eighteen," I say to no one in particular, "a drunk driver screwed up the life I had. I'm lucky to be alive. I suffered a terrible head injury. Sofia's too drunk to care if she hurts others. She wants to get home, whatever the cost. The twenty-one-year-old, who almost killed me, said she couldn't understand why she wasn't more responsible with our lives the night I was hurt."
I never talk about this anymore. I have tried to forget what happened but it is hard. I will always remember the injury and the terrible aftermath. The endless rehabilitation I needed because of the permanent damage inflicted on my body and mind was a nightmare. This drunken woman's threat just now, to punch me in the head, touched a tender nerve and I feel a door inside me opening to some long buried memories.
"Someone who is about to behave irresponsibly is hard to stop or else I wouldn't have gotten cut up as badly as I did," I say. "I don't even need to get in a car with Sofia to feel threatened."
A sudden impulse has me get up and go to my den. As I walk, my breath is rapid, with a pounding heart. My eyes stay glued to Sofia, with every step I take. I want to tell her off because she could hurt someone but I stop myself. I have never felt this way before.
In the dark room, I reach for something on a bookshelf. It is a small picture frame I had moved for the party. I do not know why I moved it. I seem to do this a lot with this frame. It holds a memory that makes me unhappy sometimes. I hold the object close to me as I walk back to the stairs, so that nobody can see what it is. At the door, Jason and Sofia are still fighting. Sitting down, I look sentimentally at what I hold in my lap.
"In the children's rehabilitation hospital after that drunk driver almost killed me, one of the nicest people visited me. She later died in a car accident that happened for a few reasons," I say to my friend from dance sitting beside me. "Drunk driving—was the biggest one."
My eyes shoot to the door. I glare at Sofia and am quiet for a moment.
"This signature is Princess Diana's. When I met her, she signed a Recovery Book I kept for rehabilitation. This is the only thing I have left of that book. Her accident, which happened six years after I met her, was similar to mine in some ways."
The conversation on the stairs comes to an abrupt end. I do not want to say anything more. The argument at the front door gets louder. As I hold the piece of my Recovery Book I cannot take my eyes off the pen inscribed name—Diana.
At that time I thought it was only for my mom. She held onto it up until Princess Diana died. After her death in 1997, I realized it was important to me to have it back and I did not know why. Sofia's attempt at wanting to drink and drive now triggered this memory for me. Sure there were more factors involved but ultimately it was a drunk driver that destroyed Princess Diana's life.
After I was hurt, some of the rehabilitation professionals helping encouraged me to keep a Recovery Book. In this book, people wrote their best wishes. It was meant as support, to assist me in coping with what had happened to me as a result of the injuries. I had to adjust to having my life being consumed by my medical needs. The rehabilitation from that car accident was like a job, where I had a schedule to keep. This was necessary because of how severely hurt I had been.
As I sit on the stairs, my need to share my experience tonight surprises me. I do not understand why I opened up about it. It is unusual for me to talk about what I went through.
I am immersed in my thoughts. Suddenly, the argument stops and I look up to the door. Sofia and Jason are now talking privately. Jason glances over and makes eye contact with me. He then walks towards me. I quickly turn my Recovery Book upside down on my lap, so he cannot see what I am holding.
"I'm driving her home," he says, sounding relieved.
"Thank you for stopping her," I say.
He gives me a sympathetic smile as he leaves. Julie and another friend grab a ride downtown with them as well. Sofia's car stays parked on the street.
Standing up, I go to the den and gently lay Princess Diana's framed signature, face down, again on the bookshelf. Behind me I can hear the dance music from the party. Around thirty guests came tonight. My home's open layout makes it easy to spread out and mingle. Joining them, I do not talk with anyone about the fight that just happened at the door. The majority of guests did not even notice. Everyone seems to be having a good time.
Phil, Heather's boyfriend, tries to get me to dance. I brush him off with a smile. I am having a hard time taking my mind off Sofia's threat to hit me in the head. To dance will not help me.
"I'll watch you guys," I say.
"But it's your party!" Phil says.
I am no longer in a good mood. I did not drink anything tonight. A glass of wine would probably make me forget what just happened but I do not want anything.CHAPTER 2
A Morning Visitor
At ten in the morning the doorbell rings. This surprises me on a weekend, especially after last night's late party. In my pyjamas,I open the door. Sofia is standing on the porch with a huge smile on her face.
"Jason dropped me off to get my car," she says.
She walks in my house, without me asking her to enter. My dog, Mya, a two-year-old beagle, greets her with excitement.
Her tail wags non-stop and she submissively rolls over to have her stomach rubbed by Sofia. At a loss what to say to Sofia, I sit down on the stairs. Finally, Mya's greeting comes to an end.
Sofia starts to laugh as she talks about her behaviour the night before. I interrupt her.
"Are you hung over?"
"No. I never get hangovers," she says proudly.
Does she expect me to applaud her for this? I note that she is not apologizing for threatening to hit me in the head. She probably does not remember. The silence between us could be cut with a knife.
"Sofia," I say. "I have a scar."
This morning, I am not wearing any cover-up make-up as I normally do and the red marks on my face are definitely visible.
"I always wanted to ask you how you got it!" she says, almost playfully.
My dark brown eyes pierce through her. I pause for a moment, to remember how she looked at it last night.
"As a teenager, a drunk driver caused an accident in which I was almost killed. After one month in the hospital, I walked out with this," I say, pointing to my right cheek.
Almost as if to remind myself that I really have a scar, a part of me wants to look now at my face in a mirror. Sofia's eyes widen as she looks at my scar.
"Oh wow," she says. "I've always been curious about what happened to you."
I pause, thinking of what to say next.
"I had to be taken by helicopter to a Toronto hospital because of how badly hurt I was. I needed specialized care," I say.
As I imagine the helicopter ride, I shudder as my breath and heart rate speed up. The sound or thought of one makes me anxious still to this day. Even though, at the time I was unconscious, my body still remembers the pain I had been in.
"By the time they got me to the hospital, I was in a coma. X-rays showed my eye sockets were completely smashed. I also had bones broken through the bridge of my nose, along with my cheekbones, chin and jaw."
Sofia stares at me with her mouth open as I point to all the injuries, starting with my eyes and then naming one by one the bones which had been broken.
"Oh my goodness," she says.
She seems to think I am done with my list of injuries. But I am not.
"Bones got cracked from my temple through my ear and the base of my skull," I say. "My facial cuts were superficial in comparison. From the neck up I had been injured badly."
Sofia starts to ask questions about what happened to me but I stop the conversation from sharing more detail. My purpose for telling her about my injury is not to get her sympathy. I want my experience somehow to change her and snap her out of ever again drinking and driving like she wanted to do last night.
"I still need to undergo treatment to this day and this will never stop," I say. "Sure, I rebuilt myself a new life but this took many years of hard work. I will always have problems I did not experience before. I've learned the hard way how fragile my mind and body are. Everything from my concentration to memory was damaged from the head injury. I don't talk about this to people because those injuries are invisible compared to my scar. But I think you should know what happened to me."
Sofia is quiet. Unable to look me in the eye, she seems to understand how upset I am.
"This is my scar without make-up on," I say pausing. I let her again see the marks on my cheek. This time she does not seem as comfortable to look at it. "To put this behind me was hard. Over the last decade, I've seen that driver many times since then. She works on TV and every time I see Deborah, I'm reminded of what happened. It's like seeing a ghost. I even changed my name from Doris to Samantha, to try to move on from the bad memories."
It is awkward for me to say my old name.
"Oh my goodness, are you serious?" she asks.
I am hoping Sofia will be able to relate to my story. I sense however that I need to be more straightforward.
"A criminal record becomes a permanent part of your life," I say. "I'm not sure if the driver who hurt me got a pardon for her conviction. At the time, the police charged Deborah with impaired driving causing bodily harm. She never gave any excuses for her behaviour other than alcohol. There were no raccoons sneaking out or bad brakes—only the inability to drive because of her being drunk. She had over double the limit of booze in her body."
I stare into Sofia's eyes, raising my voice as I say, "If you'd driven home last night, you could've hurt someone the same way I was or even killed somebody."
As I say this, I am reminded of Princess Diana again. To talk with Sofia about the princess's death would definitely help me make my point but I do not want to share this personal memory with her.
Sofia takes a deep breath. "You're right," she says, slowly shaking her head. "What you told me changes everything."
I believe she is saying this to end our conversation—and it does. On her way out, she promises to stop herself from driving drunk in the future. She closes the door behind her and I stay seated on the staircase. I shake my head in disbelief that she thinks she can change her behaviour so easily. It is ridiculous. She is fooling herself.
Over the years, I stopped talking about my head injury and facial scar, even to myself. It is hard to admit to anyone that I had brain damage. I struggled many times trying to explain my injury. It was almost as if I had to give proof of how I was hurt. I cannot even count the number of times I heard, "oh, everyone has that problem", when I would tell others about the challenges I faced in recovery. I never, however, had problems like the ones from the head injury before in my life.
I avoided talking about the accident, as well, partly to protect Deborah and her family. I copied the behaviour of those people in my life who did not want to hear about it. I thought they all deserved to get on with their lives. I sensed that the memory of the accident was a taboo subject for many. Sure, I wish I could have closed the door so easily but, to this day, the reminders for me are still constant. I tried to bury the story inside myself.
This weekend all the emotional guards I built to protect myself seem to be melting. I thought I had blocked those memories. I am surprised I just shared my story.
Standing up, I lock the door and start to tidy the living room. I grab some dirty wine glasses left over from the party and take them to the kitchen. After setting them down on the counter, I let Mya outside. She runs around the lawn in the backyard, sniffing the grass, while I hook the retractable leash on the patio door-handle.
I love looking outside, to see how a large rock, about five feet high, gradually cascades down to meet the grass. There is a green forest behind it. This thick wall of nature borders my entire backyard.
Today, the early sun is shining on new leaves growing with the warmth of spring. I am mesmerised by the beauty of it all. The change of season, from winter to spring, is especially lovely to witness.
This tranquil scene washes away my concern of what could have happened last night if Sofia had driven home drunk.
Excerpted from The Beauty of my Shadow by S. D. Michael. Copyright © 2014 S.D. Michael. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsThe Soundtrack: A Note from the Author, xi,
1. The Party, 1,
2. A Morning Visitor, 6,
3. Mya the Beagle, 10,
4. A Forgotten Life, 12,
5. An Apology, 18,
6. A Permanent Scar, 22,
7. Dancing, 27,
8. Money and Credit, 29,
9. Family Support, 34,
10. Medical Notes, 38,
11. The Lady in Pink, 41,
12. Head Injury, 50,
13. Perfect Prizes, 54,
14. Alignment, 59,
15. Thoughts with Nature, 61,
16. Confirmation, 70,
17. Canada Day, 75,
18. Scarface, 78,
19. A Disappearing Job, 81,
20. Private Investigators, 86,
21. The Cottage, 91,
22. Stress Management, 95,
23. July 3, 102,
24. Abandonment, 107,
25. An Aid, 115,
26. Déjà Vu, 121,
27. A Living Ghost, 127,
28. Crossroads, 132,
29. An Assertive Choice, 141,
30. Delayed Grief, 144,
31. Freedom to Feel, 152,
32. An Aid to Help Foundation, 155,
33. Inner Strength, 159,
34. Selection of Songs, 164,
35. A Private Concert, 167,
36. More Parallels, 175,
37. Hidden Meaning, 177,
38. Critical Eyes, 181,
39. An Assertive Call, 186,
40. The Painting's Scar, 189,
41. Full of Music, 191,
42. Social and Emotional Learning, 195,
43. Miracle from Nature, 197,
44. An Important Penny, 199,
45. Progress, 201,
46. A Proud Dad, 203,
47. Feedback, 206,
48. Instead of Wine, 208,
49. A Fading Scar, 209,
50. Time Away, 213,
51. A Bike Ride, 220,
52. Empathy, 223,
53. Unexpressed Emotion, 226,
54. Parent as Teacher, 230,
55. Michael's Non-Profit, 232,
56. A New Princess, 234,
57. Peer Support, 236,
58. My Illusion, 238,
59. Hope and Remembrance, 239,
60. A Need for Change, 242,
61. Speaking Out, 246,
62. Brain Training, 250,
63. An Aid to Help, 255,
64. An Old Friend, 259,
Purchase Songs for Everyone, 275,
About the Author, 281,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite The Beauty of My Shadow: A Story of Strength is a memoir written by Samantha Doris Michael. Michael was in an accident at the end of the summer before her freshman year in college. She had been participating in a weekend outing with her friends, and the young women were out drinking at a bar. On the way back to the cottage where they were staying, Deborah, the older sister of one of the author’s friends, lost control of the car. Michael was rushed to the hospital with traumatic head injuries. When she woke, she had years of rehabilitation ahead of her and had little memory of what had happened before in her life. Her college plans were put on hold indefinitely due to the effects of the traumatic brain injury she had suffered. The Beauty of My Shadow: A Story of Strength is the story of that challenge and how she met it. Samantha Doris Michael’s memoir, The Beauty of My Shadow: A Story of Strength, is awe-inspiring and somewhat humbling. Michael tells of those first few months, and later, years simply and honestly. The pain at having been literally abandoned by her friends is shared with candor, as is her despair at having such a monumental task being arbitrarily dumped in her lap. It’s not self-pity, however, that comes out in this awesome memoir; rather it’s a shared memory that was put out there to help others who have likewise been faced with a life-altering accident and for those who have a family member or friend in that situation. There’s so much in The Beauty of My Shadow. There’s her success with meditation, her work with Pilates and dance, and her idea to start the non-profit she sets up to help others. Michael’s memoir is also beautifully written and marvelous to read. I’m so glad she’s continuing to write. I’ll be looking for her other books.
Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan for Readers' Favorite The Beauty of My Shadow: A Story of Strength by S.D. Michael is a courageous story of recovery that will help many individuals who are recovering from traumatic injuries. Samantha Michael's world comes crashing down after being in an accident. Once out of a coma, she realizes that her life is not the same anymore and she has a lot of things to deal with; memory loss, physical scars, personality changes and also emotional pain. She accepts reality instead of clinging to her past and this book speaks of how her positive attitude helps her to cope with life and its challenges. The book is the story of her resilience, strength and perseverance and will motivate many readers to bring about changes in their personal lives. It is definitely a heart-wrenching memoir which displays strength of character. It is a book that will bring awareness to those suffering from head injuries and it also inspires readers to accept the traumas that happen in life and rebuild themselves in a good way. Her physical problems and the emotional pain she undergoes strike a chord with readers. The author shares her struggles and her healing process in the book, which reveals the strength and willpower of a woman who wants to live her life. The few pictures the author has shared with readers give a glimpse into her personal life. The author's experiences teach readers through this courageous story of recovery and healing.
Reviewed by Suzanne Cowles for Readers' Favorite The Beauty of My Shadow: A Story of Strength by S.D. Michael is a riveting memoir about a then eighteen-year old girl who recounts the tragedy that befell her one night in 1991, when her intoxicated friend drove her home. Unfortunately, Samantha instead was helicopter-lifted to a Toronto hospital and placed in ICU from massive head injuries caused from a single car accident. The horrific accident put Samantha in a coma with a respirator, catheter, feeding tube and IV. However, that was just the beginning of a lifetime struggle for recovery. The lingering injuries from facial scars, to vision and hearing loss, as well as brain damage were on the surface, but the real internal damage to psyche was buried deep. PTSD continued many years later as Samantha’s friend seemed oblivious to the consequences of her misjudgment. Without the ability to erase time, Samantha proceeded day by day to recapture her youthful vigor and started a not-for-profit, An Aid to Help Foundation. Channeling her negative emotions of anger and fear, she used Princess Diana’s lifetime of service to inspire her and motivate a positive change. This factual story recounts memory loss and emotional pain in a way that inspires others who are in the same situation. In addition to the book, there is a song on CD “Songs for Everyone” set to a relaxing tempo to accompany the reader through a heart-wrenching journey. Anyone that has ever been in a car accident knows the pain and suffering and life disruption involved. Nevertheless, few can imagine skirting death only to have to rebuild a life from the bottom up. S.D. Michael in The Beauty of My Shadow: A Story of Strength does more than explain the aftermath of a fatal mistake; she provides a powerful account of bringing awareness about brain injury and the devastating effects, and encourages others to persevere.
Reviewed by Patricia Reding for Readers' Favorite S.D. (Samantha Doris) Michael, seriously injured in a car accident at 18 years of age, tells her story in The Beauty of My Shadow. When Doris, who just left home for college, goes out with friends one night, the sister of one of her friends is to drive them home. Drunk, the 21-year-old woman causes an accident in which Samantha Doris is the only person injured. She is brought, via helicopter, to a Toronto emergency room where her parents and Aunt Gisele meet her. They learn that she suffered a severe closed-head injury and is now in a coma. Her face was severely scarred. Some time after the event, unable to re-connect with her life as “Doris,” the young woman changes her name to Samantha. The injury causes a “disconnect” between her and her former friends and between her new self and “Doris,” the young woman she once was. Though her journey is accompanied by many difficulties, her family and new friends help to usher her into a new life. Also, Princess Diana’s legacy lives on when readers learn of her visit to the recovery hospital where Samantha Doris spent some time. After years of legal disputes over the extent of her injuries and of undergoing medical procedures, Samantha emerges triumphant, building her own organization, An Aid to Help Foundation, dedicated to providing important life skills to young people to help them make good decisions. The Beauty of My Shadow is a story of injury and recovery, pain and perseverance, anger and forgiveness, and emotional pain and healing. S.D. Michael walks readers through her journey with an honesty that is sometimes painful and always insightful. She provides information for hope and healing to others who have suffered similar injuries. Through her foundation, S.D. Michael offers her memoir, books for children, and a CD to promote meditation, an exercise that was instrumental in her recovery. While Samantha Doris will always know some loss, the gains she made in finding herself are the themes that readers will hold and carry forward. With her efforts to assist others and her finding the means to forgive others, Samantha Doris is more than just a survivor — she is a force for change.
Reviewed by Anne-Marie Reynolds for Readers' Favorite The Beauty of My Shadow is Samantha Michael’s story. It’s the story of how her entire life changed in an instant. At just 18 years old, Samantha was involved in a horrific car accident, caused by a young drunk driver. Pulled from the wreck, Samantha is barely holding on to life, but it’s when she comes out of the coma that the real horror begins for her. Suffering a brain injury, Samantha has to learn to live all over again and faces a life full of challenges. Twenty years after the accident, Samantha decides to tell her story, to talk about her recovery. She tells, in a sometimes humorous way, of her struggles – emotionally, physically and medically. She talks of how the accident affected her whole life including her friends and her family. She talks of when she decided to start up a non-profit organization to help others, called An Aid to Help Foundation. This is a story that will touch everyone who reads it, a learning curve and a warning of the dangers of drunk driving, of how it can destroy lives. But it’s also a story of triumph in the face of adversity, of having the strength to go on and live in spite of everything. The Beauty of My Shadow by Samantha Michael was a real revelation. Both heartbreaking and humorous, Samantha wrote her book in such a way that I felt a part of her story, as if I was there living it with her. Having worked in a head injuries unit, I could empathize with much of what she said, having seen the effects of drink driving for myself. A wonderful story, told in a beautiful manner and holding many lessons for people to learn.
I was given this book in exchange for an honest review. What would you do if you were in an accident, causing a coma? What about if after you come to you have memory loss, physical scars, emotional pain/stress. This is a beautifully written account of how one woman turns all her negative into positives. Love this story and the authors ability to tell it.
Samantha Michael's struggle to heal after her car accident in 1991 continues after she wakes from her coma, past the day she exits rehab, and even further than the day she decides to start her own non-profit, An Aid to Help Foundation. Reading Samantha's constant struggle with day to day life has been a humbling experience. Situations and experiences I feel may be nothing, can be larger obstacles for her. She is dealing with memory loss, personality changes, physical scars, emotional pain, and a minimized threshold for stress all while surrounded by the people who are expecting the person she was to fall right back into her old life. I can't begin to imagine that struggle. To her credit, she comes out embracing the person she is today and not focusing on the person she was. This could not have been easy to do. Her attitude allows her to find ways to adjust and cope with her new life. The Beauty of My Shadow is designed to be a book to bring awareness, understanding, and healing to those who are suffering from head injuries or trauma. For me, it was an amazing story of the strength and a long process of learning or relearning emotional intelligence. Throughout her story we watch as she tackles her physical problems head on, but when confronted with emotional pain she forces it away. While no one will experience the same pain Samantha went through to heal, she has an innate ability to write so the reader experiences each emotional step in her journey. Periodically, the book presented chapters that held what only can be described as random babbling, but those chapters were few and far between and left her main objective intact. At times the memoir was frustrating to read, at others it seemed tedious, but more often I was humbled by the strength and will of a young woman to face her uncertain future and ability to build herself a therapeutic way to reclaim her life.
The Beauty of My Shadow shows us what a process making lemonade out of life's lemons can be: sometimes a lengthy process, yes, but a worthy one. S.D. Michael is determined not to be a victim of a serious, life-changing accident but a survivor of it—yet, her story makes no attempt to sound like it's being written by some perfect angel who instantly learns every noble lesson possible from her traumatic experiences as they come. No, Michael fesses up to her humanness, and the primary tense of her memoir allows us to see her grow through the progression of her story. To me, the most poignant line comes when Michael, speaking of Doris, says, "I miss her and always have," and I literally applauded while reading the author's discoveries in the last chapter. Plus, I'm a big proponent of books including pictures. I can only imagine things like having pieces of glass locked into my skin for years, or needing to tell myself, "Yes, you really are crying" because I've lost the ability to produce tears of emotion to accompany my weeping, only a sampling of what Michael goes through as a result of her head injury. It's interesting reading about all of the "parallels" she notices over the course of her journey and how she does not chalk them up to coincidence but to destiny. I know what name, or several names, I would give to the "director" who seems to be leading the author forward as she's making decisions regarding her purpose. There are moments in the memoir when the telling of some details seems repetitive, but this could be a result of the course of Michael's journey, how the steps had to build upon each other, and it's likely that if one particular detail hadn't been repeated as much, I probably wouldn't have been applauding by the end. Michael's goal of pursuing prevention over punishment and making the best she can for others out of the hand she's been dealt can serve as an inspiration for many. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.