The subject of acceptance isn’t the easiest thing for me, but my therapist suggested that I write about it and she’s been spot on so far with all of her suggestions so here we go. I have had to flash accept a lot in my life. By flash acceptance I am referring to experiences in my life where everything has changed in an instant and I have had to accept it in order to survive. One example of this was when I was a child living in a house with a pool; a sand box with monkey bars and a swing; a flower and vegetable garden; my room full of toys; and then the next day we were living in a basement sleeping in one bed with my sisters and mother. (I honestly can’t remember if both of my older sisters were living with us or just one. Damn brain injury). I had to accept my new reality. After that, it took me a very long time to accept who I was as a person. I was lost. I was embarrassed and ashamed of my place in life. Growing up poor was difficult enough to accept, but the struggle to stay fed and clothed is much more difficult when all of your friends are well off and only have the struggles of school to worry about. It made me very bitter and angry. I never had the tools needed to process and move forward. I just kind of shoved it down and forged ahead. It worked for me or at least I thought it did. I think back and wonder if I had had the tools to accept, process and move forward, could I have avoided my stroke altogether? I do understand that thinking this way isn’t the most helpful and tends to keep people stuck so I accept that there isn’t anything that I can do about the past. All I can change is the present to create a better future.
After the stroke everything changed for me, both physically and mentally. Acceptance even after that experience wasn't easy. It took a hot minute to accept that I needed physical therapy to help me learn to walk. This was hard mainly because I was learning to walk with a cane. Old man Joe. I hated it. I fought so hard to be “normal" again. I didn’t want to accept that I needed a cane to walk. It was depressing. I fought so hard to get better so I could toss that damn thing and walk like I once did. Cane free! It did end up working out for me. I only had to use a cane for a month or so and now I’m walking normally, but I wonder if I could’ve avoided the suffering through that experience if I had accepted things sooner.
Mentally, it has been much more difficult. I have huge chunks of this last year that I just have no recollection of. I knew short term memory was going to be an issue for me, but even more frightening is that I have some old memories that are now fuzzy or just gone. I haven’t been able to accept that this is my new normal and I assume that this is why I'm having a difficult time with coping. I recently came to the realization, during one of my therapy sessions, that I haven’t accepted my current situation and that I can’t move forward until I do. I guess my fear is that I will accept it and then that’s it. This will just be who I am now. I don’t want to be like this. I want to be who I was. The truth is, I will never be that person again.
I have a new normal. I don't want to be who I was or do what I did in the past because the only thing that behavior got me was a stroke and a hole in my head. Literally. It's time to move forward. Accept things for what they are and move forward. I can now accept that I am different. I’m different in a good way. I do have deficits, but other then that I am a better version of myself. I'm more open than ever and ready to continue my journey through this thing called life with a more positive outlook. Thanks to my amazing therapist, I have realized that without acceptance, there can be no true growth. Multi-tasking was always a huge strength for me, but now I have to do only one thing at a time. I don't remember things in great detail like I once did and almost everything I do is overwhelming. I accept all of those things as normal now. That’s how it is today. Tomorrow, I will be significantly better than today and even better the next day and the day after. My new normal is continuing to fight the good fight on my way to the mountain top. On the top of that mountain is Joe 2.0 and it all starts with acceptance.