Rita's Story - A Back Pain Journey
What does it mean to regain HOPE?
We post a lot about Hope but it’s not just a tagline or a marketing strategy, it’s who we are at our very core. It takes guts to promise Hope to people, and I’ll admit, we were a little gun shy when we first started talking about it. But we listened to what our clients were saying to us and when we began to write their stories we knew we had to talk about it. Over and over, without any prompting, the words of how they regained their hope were beautifully and emotionally written in their submissions. It was so powerful, and oftentimes left us emotional and speechless. Matthew and I develop the Social Media content together and post it under the Align name. More often than not, people can’t differentiate between the two of us because the message feels the same, no matter who writes it. That’s not because we have a generic voice, it’s because we have both been in that hopeless place and we know what it feels like to emerge on other side and start living again. Align was born out of Matthew’s journey.
Here’s a little bit about my journey…
After 13 years of chronic back pain and simply existing, not living, I was at the end of my rope. I was staring at a life that I didn’t want to live, one that would require my loved ones to make sacrifices and care for me. If you know me, you know that that is not a life I am willing to live.
Just about 2 years ago a friend told me about Align but while she spoke I tried to appear uninterested. Quite frankly, I was afraid to hope. But curiosity got the best of me and late that night I googled Align & Matthew Lister. My inner voice told me not to give up, to try again. What Matthew didn’t know when we met was that he was my last hope. If he couldn’t help me then I was done trying and I am not sure there would have been a future for me. That was a lot to place on his shoulders, but I quickly learned that he has broad shoulders and he is always up for a good challenge.
Fast forward nine months and I was living a different life. Things changed slowly, but they changed. Little by little I regained function that had been lost for years. My pain improved, my overall health improved, and my mental health did a 180. I realized that I was no longer dreading each day but racing into it because the dark cloud I had been living under had been lifted. My situation, my life, was no longer hopeless. I was no longer searching for happiness in other people or material possessions because my happiness had returned on its own. As cheesy as this may sound, it felt like the sun was shining brighter on every aspect of my life.
The impact on my life was so profound and so powerful that I wanted to shout it from the top of every mountain. Since that wasn’t possible, I did the next best thing, I went to work for Align. A few months into working at Align I sent the following statement to Matthew:
“For the first time in 33 years, the beautiful hope of my youth has returned. My hope has finally, fully, returned. And for the first time in my adult life I can answer with certainty that yes, I am truly happy with where I am at in life.
That is what I want other people to experience and I will work for the rest of my life to let people know that there is hope and happiness to be found if you can just push through the darkness.”
That’s what it means to regain hope. You can’t be afraid, you must courageously keep searching until you find it. And when you do, oh how sweet it is to start living again!
Rita Panike, Administrative Director of Align