Well here we are, Saturday night, 10:00pm, and I’m…in bed.
People. I am turning into an old fogey.
Seriously. Pretty soon I’m going to be eating tapioca and wearing Depends!
But honestly, that has been one of the bigger changes since coming home to help my mom post-stroke: Going to bed early.
No joke. On a typical Saturday night in NYC, my night doesn’t begin until midnight. Literally. My friends and I would meet at a bar around 11:30, and then be out until 4:00am.
Now, you’re lucky if I can stay up to watch the evening news.
But one of the things I am loving about being home is the nighttime chats my mom and I have before bed. Growing up, that was always something we did…have these beautiful conversations about everything from boys, to friends, to God, to the future. And now, it’s pretty awesome to be able to do that again, but this time as two adults.
I’m telling you…God has been so generous with me, here, since I have been home. In a lot of ways, obviously. But specifically, in how He’s revealed to me just how much I have “learned” or “grown” since my anorexia, and in particular, how it has formed much of my inner-most thoughts and beliefs…in a good way.
Tonight, during our nighttime chat, my heart became so overwhelmed with just this sense of compassion for my mom. Compassion because, all of a sudden, I realized that her journey in recovering from her stroke mirrors in a lot of ways my recovery from anorexia. Maybe not in the physical sense, but in the mental sense.
My journey to a truly full recovery where I was living free and abundantly, happened only when I realized my worth. And where it came from.
I was finding my worth in my appearance, or the perfect “this or that.” I believed to my core that my worth had to be earned. And that since I wasn’t “perfect,” I was unworthy of love.
My mom said something to me tonight that brought me to a familiar place. A place that I knew all too well.
She looked at me with those big, beautiful brown eyes, and said to me with sorrow in her voice, “I’ll be better tomorrow.”
My heart just shattered.
And I knew that I needed to share with her something that I’ve had to learn and relearn and relearn just about every week.
And I think the best way to express it, is to just share with you exactly what I said to her. Because maybe, just maybe, this will resonate with even one person, too.
I said, Mom, you don’t need to be better tomorrow. Even if this is as much of your memory you get back or if this is as far in the recovery process as you get, it doesn’t matter. Because I love you just as you are right now. You don’t have to “progress” to a certain level or reach a certain standard of “better.” Your worth is in you being you. As you are in this very moment. It’s the same as it was a year ago, the day you had your stroke, yesterday and tomorrow. I love you no matter what. You don’t have to be “better” tomorrow.
And I realized, just how similar these paths of recovery are.
There are few times…very few times…when I can look back at my time battling anorexia in my youth, and be grateful for it. Granted, not for the hair loss, or the shattered relationships, or my flirtation with death – literally. But there are a few times when I realize that I am actually grateful for the lessons that I’ve had to learn the hard way.
And tonight was one of those nights.
When that core belief that has shaped who I am today, and that was learned and formed through fire, made me grateful for having gone through those dark days so many years ago.
And I kind of smiled at God tonight, and thanked Him that I had that experience to draw on to relate to my mom and have empathy for what she’s going through.
Every season of life, no matter how difficult, produces fruit. And this was really the first time that I could take the “fruit” from that period of darkness in my past, and pick one off the tree and give it to someone else.
Strokes are hard because there’s so much focus on your ‘progress.’ How much do you remember today? How did you perform on the speech exercises? What do you have to offer to the conversation.
There’s an obscene amount of value and worth placed on your ability to do or say certain things. Things that are hard, because they target the location in the “dead area” of your brain that died during the stroke.
It ties your value to a “because” rather than a “no matter what.”
Who knows, maybe I’m way off base on this and reading too much into it, but it was just an overwhelming feeling that I needed to share that with her.
And I guess, with you, too.
One of the cool things about families and communities, is that everybody brings something to the table. And perhaps, this is mine.
What about you? What’s something that you’ve learned that has shaped your core being? Maybe, just maybe, it will resonate with someone who needs to hear it, too?
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