In tenth grade, I wasn't an active MK anymore. I didn't live overseas and my parents weren't missionaries in a foreign culture. Fifteen years old is not a good age to start being something else--someone else--especially if you really liked being who you were before. But I didn't have a choice. I had to be someone else. The problem was, I didn't know how to be anyone else. I was good at being an MK; I had been one practically my whole life. TNK didn't sound so good. I mean really, who wants to be The New Kid? TWK--what I quickly morphed into--wasn't any better. That Weird Kid was what the classmates who didn't bother learning my name called me (not actually, but it felt like it). So, deep down, who was I really?
Of course, college kids are more mature than high schoolers, but a lot of them had just come from high school. I did notice one major difference, though: these people were actively seeking direction from God and truly wanted to do and say things only pleasing to Him. Shortly after starting college, my identity found me: I was Bill's girlfriend. Being Bill's girlfriend had a distinct reputation, and not because a lot of girls had held that title before me. I was his first girlfriend, but that was only part of the reason. Bill was smart. Very smart. So smart, in fact, that he regularly pointed out flaws in his teachers' lectures. (I know, I rolled my eyes the first couple of times, too.)
Once I became Bill's girlfriend, people assumed I was smart, too, and really smart people always have that stigma about them (you know the one I'm talking about--they think they're a teensie bit better than the "dumb" people and when they start talking, eyes begin to roll--just like mine did). Then I became Bill's fiancee, and I learned who my real friends were. Then I became Bill's wife, then a year later a mother, then just two months after that a stroke victim (survivor?). With each change in title, my "who am I" changed. Part of the change grew me, to include the new description, but I felt that most of the change disregarded everything previous and focused solely on the latest label.
And that's where I feel like I am now. The last "change in label" for me was my stroke. I feel like every day, every week, every month, there are more things I do or can't do because of my stroke. It's almost like those ghosts on Mario where when you're looking behind you, straight at them, everything's fine, but the second you turn your back on your past and the baggage there, they follow and chase you, and threaten to overwhelm you. And yes, sometimes the physical and mental effects of my stroke seem to overwhelm me. It's a crazy balance--moving forward fast enough that the ghosts don't catch up, and having to turn and face them when I'm unsure of how to move forward.
Over the past several days, different people have suggested different ways to handle it. One person said to treat it like a big joke, like, "Can you believe I can't do that anymore? Crazy stroke!" Another person said to embrace it and expound upon it seriously because doing so might help others who have had a stroke (or any major life alteration). Actually, they might both be right.
In the day to day of life, there are times when I can laugh it off. I love being able to explain away a major faux pas I just committed with "It was a stroke moment!" (Some days, I have a lot of those.) But other times, I need to reflect on the serious side: how am I allowing God to use this identity for the best? It does feel like my life changed, radically so, with my stroke. But I've been able to learn so much more about myself, what makes me tick, where my Achilles heel is, if you will. It's a scary thing, seeing yourself for what you really are.
Whew, that's enough about me for one post! Stay tuned for part 2, where I expound upon what I've learned about myself--not for the sake of hearing my own (written) voice, of course, but to encourage you to learn something about yourself, too. (and thanks to my oh-so-smart husband for his help editing this--you're writing the next one by yourself!) :-)