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Have you ever had a dream that you’ve held onto but didn’t realize it existed? Last week, I had an intense week of self-discovery and I found the dream that made my denial of brain damage so strong. 

When I was eleven, I was a gymnast and I loved soaring through the air on the bars. I also loved swimming and wanted to be a synchronized swimmer. I dreamt to be an athlete when epilepsy entered my life. Because epilepsy didn’t fully prevent me, I did everything I could to be active. To feel an adrenaline rush made me feel alive and, eventually, it was facing fears and hardship that brought me closest to feeling alive so I dared to take risks, thinking it could be my last.

I was scared to lose my seizures because I thought I wouldn’t feel alive again. After the seizures were replaced with stroke recovery, I still dreamed for something more but didn’t know what. I went back into risks when I joined karate but reality soon set me on a deep journey.

After admitting my denial, I still searched, not knowing it was the enjoyment of feeling the wind that I missed the most. The years before the stroke I could no longer swing on a swing safely and the wind triggered my seizures. After the stroke, the wind triggered reactions in my left side and I feared the wind instead of enjoying it. It felt like a disconnection from the life force but I didn’t know what was missing or how to resolve it.

Realizing all this brought a rush of grief held onto for almost thirty years and gave me a new understanding that encourages me to be in the wind once more. I no longer feel the need to be daring to feel alive, I know it will be felt in other ways and I now realize that I must care for my body because it is no longer as resilient as it used to be. I don’t always understand why I’m still alive but I believe there must be a reason and I want to live honoring the gift of my body and soul.