I get so confused when people say they are better people because of their accident. Or that they’re so thankful for their illness. There is something in those statements that feels inauthentic, or performative in some way. It’s what people want to hear to soothe their own fears about something bad happening to their own health, but is it actually true for the person saying it? It might be 100% true for some, but it’s such a foreign concept to me, something I can’t even fathom.
I would go back to my former life in a heartbeat. I have absolutely zero regrets about who I was or what I did (yes Megan, except Oktoberfest lol). And I haven’t become a better person. Harder. Wiser. Feistier. But definitely not better, and arguably worse. I have so much hate, anger and sadness inside me – emotions I had only known on a first name basis before. Now, they visit almost everyday. Sometimes they stay for awhile and other times they sneak away while I’m still sleeping, making sure to add a dab of themselves to my dreams before they go. And sometimes, when I’m lucky, they forget to visit all together, but oddly, l miss their company.
I know my essence, my heart is still the same. Still loving, still kind, still trying to be a *bringer of joy to family, friends and strangers alike, with the limited life that I have. But is that enough? Does it cancel out the random flashes of hatred I feel towards anyone and everyone around me? Does it make up for the overwhelming anger and sadness I’ll probably always feel when I think about the future that died that cold November day?
I was going through some old emails and gchat conversations from college and medschool and I suddenly felt a sweeping, terrible feeling of longing. Without hesitation, I texted a friend, “I really miss my former life.” She replied, “I really miss your former life for you too.” And suddenly, it didn’t hurt as badly. Maybe it was the validation or maybe it was feeling seen, but something in that insanely devastating and fulfilling conversation helped. Before my stroke, I could never imagine having a conversation with someone with that much depth, love and vulnerability. So I guess there’s that. My relationships with some have gotten more superficial, but my relationships with others – family, old friends and new – have developed into something extraordinary. Just look at my relationship with my brother.
So no, I’m not a better person because of my stroke. I’m the same, or maybe even slightly worse. It’s ok, super smiley and service-obsessed teenage Harshada set the bar pretty high. And I’m not in the slightest bit thankful for my stroke. I would still welcome my old life with arms, heart and soul wide open. But, there’s at least two aspects of my life that are better than before: my friendships, and the mere existence of my dog Duke. Maybe, I’ll stumble upon a few more, at least I’m trying.
*The meaning of my name