There are a lot of things I have faced positively in life but there are some things that were so dear to me that when it took a hit, I accepted defeat and felt, “well, if you’re letting me down too, then so be it!” I’m not proud of it, but for someone who has faced a lot of things in life I just didn’t have the energy to fight any longer! No matter how strong you are, sometimes we just have to cry out loud, vent and show life the finger!
I have lost my marbles a lot of times, more than a lady can admit! But when I do, I spend some moments in silence and tell myself you have the right to grieve and be frustrated. Accept your thoughts and feelings and move on! Just like how you crave to be accepted and respected, your feelings do too.
I had a lot of aftereffects of the stroke in me. In the first few months I couldn’t stand up or walk. I went to my country with a lot of hope for treatment that has worked for a lot of people in the past, but it didn’t help me at all. I was so disappointed and lost all hope and came back to the US where my family, my home is.
I thought if I’m going to die, I might as well die next to my family! Once I got back to my family, the urge to fight back set in. I started rehab with physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech.
My life was never a fairytale. I have had to fight for and earn almost everything I have wished for. I never got it easy. There were two things that came quiet easily to me. The ability to sing and dance. I’ve never really had to work hard for it. When I started rehab, my therapists told me to get a vocal exam with a specialist. I did and the results showed that I have a vocal cord paralysis. Thankfully only one of my vocal cords was paralyzed and I could still speak. When I cried everyone told me, “you should be thankful that only one of your vocal cords is paralyzed! So what if you can’t sing, you can at least talk.” I thought to myself they are right and I hid that disappointment somewhere deep inside me.
Next, as I was doing my physical therapy and started walking, I voiced my disappointment of not being able to dance or even sway freely to music. Again people around me said “you should be lucky you didn’t have a paralytic stroke. You are at least able to walk!” I again hid my pain somewhere deep inside me.
Dancing and singing wasn’t competitive for me. I used to do it because it brought me joy. When my son had surgeries or when I felt helpless I sang and danced! I used to release my negative tension through singing and dancing. My brother is a professional singer and I have never been able to sing even close to what he sings. But it still was a part of me. My singing and dancing were my pathway to freedom of expression, to escape into serenity for sometime!. It’s like I used to hide behind my dance and songs. Any mundane thing I did, I did it with music and humming along. My son would know just by listening to the playlist that’s playing, what mood I was in or what I’m doing! A playlist for cooking, a playlist for when I’m doing the dishes!
Music was my holy sanctuary. So maybe people around me never understood what losing my singing voice and my ability to dance meant to me. But I was never allowed to grieve for it. I grieved for it in silence and behind closed doors or in the shower. And I harbored feelings of anger and animosity towards this. My husband always asks me why I never practice singing and dancing when these were clearly so important to me. Honestly, I don’t know. Maybe I’m just too tired fighting all my life for everything! Maybe, I just wish for some things to come easy. When I hear my croaky voice while trying to practice, it makes me angry!
Today while talking to my husband’s bestie, who is like my brother from another mother and am very close to, told me that it’s understandable that I have deleted all my dance videos from my phone and this anger towards it is justified. I felt all my anger actually melting when I heard that! I realized my anger towards these things is because people around me have never let me acknowledge it or grieve over it! I wasn't allowed to feel that losing my singing and dancing was actually a loss! I felt cheap to even crib about it because there was clearly this big picture where I can walk and talk which a lot of stroke patients couldn’t do!
But, You know what, We need to acknowledge and express our feelings. That’s the only way we get closure. That’s the only way we ourselves can deal with it. I just needed one word of acceptance and understanding and it melted this deep pit that’s been in my stomach for 3 years now! The burden in my heart was released.
This is what we can do for people mourning or grieving or in depression. They do not want to hear that they are not allowed to feel bad or are acting stupid. They want to hear that it’s okay to feel this way and that they are allowed to feel how they feel. Their feelings are justified. I’m not saying my loved ones are wrong, they kept saying these things only to make me feel stronger and because they love me. But survivors and victims need your understanding. They need your shoulder to lean on but not your pity. Empower them but don’t make them feel any less of themselves than they already do. When our loved ones are hurting or in trouble we run to protect them. But by showing them that you understand what they’re feeling, they feel enabled and empowered!
Tell your loved one that they survived because of this fire inside them. Respect their boundaries but do not walk away when they say they’re fine. Let them know that whatever they feel is justified and that together you can win this! Do not tell them “you have to win it” but make sure you tell them “you’ve got this!” and “just let it go”!