Why I Forgave The Man Who Put Me In Hospital For Seven Months

Letting go helps you to heal.

I would never have believed how much my life could change in one shocking moment. In 2012, I was driving my work vehicle when a four-wheel drive pulled out in front of me and fish-tailed right into my path.

In that instant I thought I was dead. In fact, I was very seriously injured. The surgeons and doctors at the Royal Brisbane Hospital did an amazing job to help get me to where I am today.

The injuries that I sustained were: three broken ribs, broken sacrum, open book pelvis, broken right hip, tibial plateau smashed and beyond repair, multiple compound fractures in my right leg, two broken ankles, broken toe and broken fibular on the left side. I have multiple plates and screws in my pelvis, hip and legs, a prosthetic hip on the right side and a prosthetic knee on the right side. The movement I get out of my knee now is about 30 degrees. I have received approximately 120 hours of operation and have spent a total of seven months in hospital.

Often the pain was unbearable, and I had to keep telling myself that I could get through it, that I was going to get better.

Often the pain was unbearable, and I had to keep telling myself that I could get through it, that I was going to get better. I knew I wasn't going to be the same person afterwards, and that was just as well, because I'm not. I look back now and can see just how much things have changed.

I lost a great deal; my love for dancing and water-skiing, and my marriage. I've had to change my whole outlook on life. Now I focus on the things I can do, rather than what I can't. I've had many demoralising setbacks, but I try to look at everything in a positive light rather than a negative one. There's something that can be taken out of any of the bad things that happen every day. I now look at life differently: I'm blessed to be able to make a difference in other people's lives and to inspire them to try and get the 'never give up' attitude.

One of the biggest and hardest things to do is forgive. At first I couldn't face the person responsible for the accident. I had to let go of my vulnerability and allow myself to heal before I could connect.

I spoke to Clyde for the first time in October 2016. It was a relief to connect with him. I was doing a short documentary on the crash and decided it would be a lot more powerful if we could involve Clyde. After I had spoken to him I realised that he had been living with this guilt for four years and it was eating him up inside.

I told him it was all right, because I knew he realised what he'd done, and yes, he told me that he thought about it every day and what he could have done differently. I told him he had to let go of the guilt about what happened and get on with his life. Doing that helped both of us.

Forgiveness pulled me out of despair and taught me to change my narrative.

This is the reason forgiveness transformed my life. It pulled me out of despair and taught me to change my narrative, let go of the upsets and also teach others to do the same so they can heal. This might not be right for everybody but it worked for me.

Now I'm passionate about talking to people about the prevention of road trauma. Around 1200 people die in road accidents every year in Australia. The cost of road accidents in Australia is around $27 billion per year.

I use my experiences to help others through similar situations, and I try to encourage them to look at the big picture rather than being overcome by each setback; to overcome their adversities and to break through the barriers of vulnerability. They need to work hard at the things they can control, and let go of what they can't. Letting go helps you to heal. It's not easy, but it has to be done in order to move forward.

When I'm asked how I got through it all, I think my parents and my upbringing had something to do with it. From them came the drive and resilience I needed to survive and heal, so that I can now make a difference in other people's lives.


Doug is a guest on tonight's episode of Insight at 8.30pm on SBS, which explores how people move forward from a traumatic event. #InsightSBS