Over the past week or so, my brother has gotten really into our family’s history. My ancestry. Genealogy. And I’m not gonna lie, it’s pretty awesome. We’re talking 16th century London – ancestors who were contemporaries — and practically neighbors – with Shakespeare! But soft…
But I think it’s really fascinating how all of these DNA tests have broken out on the scene: Ancesty.com, 23 & Me – we all have this deep longing to know where we come from. Who we are. Which, I can tell you right now, no answer to any DNA test is gonna answer that doosey.
I spent a long time trying to answer that question: Who am I? Because recovering from an eating disorder forces you to answer that whether you like it or not. You’ve spent years merely existing as a shell of yourself – gone are your passions, dreams, ideas, personality; stripped away – stolen – by ED. And so when you get out the other side, it’s as though you just were dropped off in the desert on a one-way Greyhound bus. You’re disoriented, and completely lost. And probably smell bad…
Watching and being with my mom through her recovery from her stroke, I’ve been just floored at how similar the recovery processes are from that standpoint.
Rediscovering and finding out who you are is a daunting and overwhelming task.
But my mom and I shared a heart breaking moment this evening after dinner. It was a bit of a rough day, spirits low, and my mom wept for really the fist time since her stroke happened, December 27. She said, “I’m never going to be the same, am I?”
My heart shattered.
Behind my mom, as she said this, was a giant, wall-sized collage of family photos through the years. And seeing all the goofy and fun photos displayed behind her, depicting all the wonderful and vast facets of her vivacious personality, I couldn’t help but fight back tears, too.
I realized that that’s what was tugging on my mom’s heart in that moment- she’s trying to find out who she is. Who is she after this horrific event. Now that she’s picking up the pieces, what woman is she left with?
I think one of the biggest traps that we can fall into when we’re trying to answer that is using our accomplishments or accolades or titles to suffice. And looking at my mom, who is grappling with the idea that those defining things about her – right down to her personality – can’t answer that question. At least not right now.
In that moment, holding my mom as she sobbed into my shoulder, I was grateful that she was finally allowing herself to feel since the stroke. But I also prayed in that moment for God to give me the words to say. This was a hurting and scared heart that needed to be affirmed and consoled and validated.
I said, “Mom, I’ll take the woman I see in front of me. How you are in this moment. Every day. You don’t have to try to live up to anything or strive to be anything with me. I’ll take her. Just as she is.”
We didn’t speak many other words after that. Our hearts were heavy as we just swayed in the kitchen, hugging each other for about 10 minutes. It’s as though our spirits were enclosing us in, which I know sounds so out there, but we just held on to each other, because truly, that was all we could do.
Will my mom ever be the woman who talks in funny accents and spontaneously does this or that, going out of her way to make someone’s day, cackling a gut-busting laugh after spouting a funny remark that leaves the room in stitches…we don’t know. I believe so, but that’s in God’s hands.
All I know is that in that moment, I had never felt so close to my mom, ever.
The truth of the matter is that this stroke did change my mom. Sure, maybe some things are more difficult, and could be seen as “negative.” But it changed her in positive ways, too. She is strong. Resilient. Brave. Humble. She has a knowing to her. Almost as though she can see your soul.
Moments of fear like that are gripping, because they can make you doubt the answer to that soul-defining question, who am I?
Because at the end of the day, every single one of us wants to hear one word to that answer: enough.
If my mom ever asks me that question again, I’ve got a different answer for her. I’m going to look into her beautiful brown eyes, and remind her of the truth that was written by Jesus’s pierced hand:
You are enough.
Recovery, no matter what kind, shape, or form, is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. That’s been the most trying thing to remember here. And every day, my mom blooms more and more. This season is one of rebirth. And I can’t wait to see the beauty that will come (and is coming) from this trial.
Because if there’s one thing we can count on, it’s that God makes all things new.
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