Friends becoming friends is my very favorite thing.
Friends of FREDA, I am so honored to introduce you all to my sweet friend, Ruthie Lindsey.
Ruthie has the biggest heart of anyone I know. To know and be known by her is the greatest gift.
She’s the kind of person that sees everyone in the room, instantly feels like an old friend, and reminds you to smile at the little things. She is magnetic, and tender, and loving, and seeks out the beauty in everyone and everything. Her story is powerful, and I am excited for her to share it with you all below.
Ruthie, you are the very most special. Anyone that knows you, has met you, or merely can sense your energy, knows that. I am honored to call you my twin, my sister, and someone I am endlessly inspired by. Love being in this sisterhood of the traveling FREDAS with you.
It’s with the biggest smile, that I introduce you to my dear friend, Ruthie.
- Britt Deyan
Photos taken by Grey & Elle
Will you share a little bit about who you are and your journey?
At seventeen years old, I was hit by an ambulance outside of a gas station in rural Louisiana. The impact broke both the C1 and C2 vertebrae in my neck, punctured my lungs, and ruptured my spleen. Doctors performed a spinal cord fusion using wire, and miraculously— I left the hospital in a month’s time.
A few years later, newly-married and settling into adulthood, a simple turn of my head sent debilitating and chronic pain throughout my entire body. My case confounded medical professionals and in the months and years that followed, I became addicted to narcotic painkillers, depressed, and bedridden. Five years later, after countless visits to specialists and surgeons, a doctor discovered that the wire holding my neck together from my previous fusion was piercing my brain stem. Apparently, I’m the only person in the world to whom this has happened. Without another surgery, I would be paralyzed.
As I prepared for the procedure, my father passed away suddenly, my marriage began to collapse, and I surrendered to despair and suffering. The surgery repaired my spine so that I could continue walking, but I was still in incredible pain. I felt broken, both inside and out— until I chose to change my narrative.
I went home to the same town where I almost lost my life. I decided to learn joy again, retrain my spirit to soothe my physical pain, and learn strength from my suffering. I traded Fentanyl for sunsets and morphine for picking wildflowers on the side of the road. I stopped using my body as a hiding place and started using it as my bridge to connect with the world. I have been on the most beautiful and healing journey ever since.
You’ve been known to say, “When you see something beautiful in someone, speak it.” Will you share what this means to you? (bd: as your friend, you truly live life by these words. It’s inspiring to see and feel.)
Ahhh thank you my sweet Britt, you precious soul. So often we see such incredible things in the people around us, our environments, in nature— but we hold in our sentiments. It has become such a life-giving practice for me to speak out loud the beauty I see all around me, and NO ONE is ever bummed about receiving a sincere compliment! I love watching the smile stretch across someone’s face when you share the goodness you see in them.
You are living in constant pain, but, you so intentionally choose joy and abundant gratitude. You celebrate every sunset, every flower, every interaction. Will you tell us a bit about balancing the beauty with the pain.
My favorite quote of all time is by Kahlil Gibran: “The deeper sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.” I truly believe that the depth of which you know suffering is the depth of which you can know true joy. I tried numbing my pain for seven years while living in my bed— taking every narcotic under the sun, watching TV all day, and eating everything in sight—all an attempt to push down the level of pain I was experiencing. When I weaned myself off the drugs and stopped numbing my pain, it’s as though I was given new eyes to truly see all the beauty and goodness around me.
I know this is a really exciting year for you - you just finished your BOOK! Can you tell us about it? What was it like to sit down and write? Anything you are most excited about?
Thank you so much! I am so excited about it! It will come out spring 2020. It’s titled A Love Song To My Scars: The Journey From Desperation To Wholeness. The writing process was excruciating. Delving so deeply into all of those old traumas and losses was harder than I could have ever imagined. It was the darkest I’ve felt since living in my bed all of those years. But gratefully, because I did such beautiful trauma work throughout the entire writing process, I also experienced such precious healing. Originally, I thought the name of my book was going to be Salvaged: Building A Beautiful Life With Beautiful Parts, but now that just feels so wrong because I am NOT BROKEN! And you are not broken. That title reflected the lies I was believing about my body and pain. The truth is that all of my pain, sorrow, scars, and suffering have been roadmaps back to myself—my True Self. I can honestly say that I am grateful for every single thing that has happened because it brought me home to the truth that I am loved. I am love, I am whole, I am good— and healing is for me. And that is also true for every single person on the planet.
Words to live by?
You are love and healing is for YOU!
You and your friend Miles Adcox recently started a podcast exploring the unspoken (The Unspoken Podcast). What did you hope to discover, and has anything surprised you about your conversations?
YES! It’s been such a joy! We sit with people not only known for the work they do in the world, but also who we know to be such precious and whole-hearted souls willing to speak about the hard things that often remain unspoken. We believe that secrets keep us sick, and speaking out about that shame in safe places takes the power away.
We call ourselves human beings but we live like human doings. So often we ascribe worth to ourselves and others by measuring our productivity or status rather than who we truly are. In these conversations we rarely speak about the beautiful work these people are doing in the world—instead, we talk about their hearts and souls. During these conversations, I am constantly reminded that we are all one, and that we are so much more alike than different. While everyone knows loss, pain, and trauma—we are also resilient, powerful, and beautiful souls capable of beauty and healing.
Over the course of the last year, you’ve been investing deeply in your healing. Can you share a little bit about where you’ve learned and grown the most?
It’s been the most precious and beautiful journey. My pain has increased every year for fifteen years now. For so long I believed that I would hurt like this for the rest of my life—that I would learn to handle the pain because it would be my vehicle to share hope with others who were also suffering. But now I believe with every part of me that healed people heal people and transformed people transform people. The most loving thing we could ever do is heal ourselves because healed people heal the world. I feel like healing is my full-time job these days, and I am! It’s such a gift. Our bodies and minds were created to heal, so when we give ourselves healthy settings on emotional, spiritual, and physical levels— we are able to leave the fight or flight response and everything begins healing! I could talk about this topic all day long because it truly is for EVERYONE!
Who would you like to introduce to the FREDA community?
I am honored and thrilled to introduce you to my dear friend and soul sister, Suleika Jaouad. She is a profound writer and speaker who also has a book coming out next year! I met Suleika last year at a mutual friend’s housewarming party, and I couldn’t see anyone else in the room. It’s as if my soul had been looking for her. Suleika’s perspective and story are absolutely profound. I am so excited for y’all to get to know her. She’s a national treasure! You will get to hear more of her story soon in her upcoming TED Talk, where she is speaking on the main stage at the Ted Conference this April in Vancouver!