Finding My Why
In the days and weeks of 2012, right after my stroke at age 33, I was locked in my own body with no one to talk to except my consciousness and God. I asked myself questions: “Why me?” and “What did I do to deserve this?” And asked God, “I’m not a bad person, so, out of everyone in the world, why’d you have to pick me?” Then my questions turned to anger. “If you’re gonna do this to me God, I’m gonna turn my back on you.” I just couldn’t believe that a loving God could do this to a young wife and mother.
In the years since the stroke, my anger has calmed. Still that one question remained: “Why me?” During this time, I was driving, taking care of the kids the best that I could and writing my first book, but that “why” question nagged me. Am I just supposed to try (not too successfully) to clean and do laundry every day for the rest of my life? Is that all? I wanted a purpose.
I started to share my story at churches, civic organizations and stroke support groups. I would talk to anyone who would listen. It was like therapy to me. One talk turned into more, and before I knew it, I had several speaking engagements. My calendar exploded! Before I knew it, I had written a second book. Finally, I started to get it. I had figured out my why.
I have had wonderful opportunities to meet people from all over the world, in person and via Facebook. I talked to a family in Pakistan the other day! I try to be an encourager and motivator, to help caregivers understand why their loved ones are acting the way they do. It’s an awesome feeling to be the first stroke survivor another survivor has ever talked to — we get each other. We understand the physical and emotional effects of stroke that the outside world doesn’t. It’s like that saying when we were kids, “Takes one to know one.”
Today I met with Rhonda. Long story short, we went to the same school. She graduated before me, but her sister was in my class, so I knew who Rhonda was. She had had a stroke about three years ago. We shared our stories — a lot of them were similar — as well as our frustrations throughout our stroke journey. We swapped stories about bedpans, so that made us friends for life! We hugged, we laughed, we cried. I have found my why.
When unfortunate things happen in our lives, it is natural to wonder why. We try to see what we could have done differently to avoid these bad situations. Sometimes, we don’t find the underlying reason, but if you are given a second chance at life, live! Don’t spend your time worrying about why it happened; live the life you have. Life is not perfect. Bad things happen, and sometimes we can’t stop them. But you have to keep on going for your family and friends, for you — especially for you.
Having a stroke ain’t easy, but I’m glad I had mine. I feel so much more and am thankful for every single moment. Do I have down days? Sure. But survivors keep trudging forward. Be the best you that you can be; don’t compare yourself to others. You’re you! Be proud! And before you realize it, you may find your why, too.