I’ve had to relearn who I am.
I had to learn to walk again, to speak again, to see and to hear. I had to learn to type again, to write again, I had to relearn how to do everything that I did without thinking about it before. Now, every action had to be a conscious thought before it was done.
Aside from all that, it occurred to me the other day that I had to relearn who I am. I’ve never really stopped to think about what it has taken me to get to this point in my life. Sure, I’ve written about it a lot, but I’ve never really taken it in. It was just something I had to do.
I will have had multiple sclerosis for four years this August. For a while, it was a constant fight to take on every day, to engage with reality instead of the stories I make up in my head and put to paper. Now, every day is a joy, a wonder to experience.
I lost who I was when the multiple sclerosis hit. It’s as if I’m two different people: the me Before MS and the me After MS. When I look at pictures of myself from four years ago, I wonder, could I have forestalled it? Could I have avoided it?
There is no avoiding the fates we are given. We just have to roll with it as best as we can.
I lost large sections of my memory from Before. I had to not only pick up the pieces of myself that still remained and gather them close, I had to fill in the dark spaces with new memories, new joys.
For a while, I didn’t know what joy was. There was only pain. Gradually, however, there was light that started to come into the darkness, a breeze flowing through me that carried the scent of flowers and the smell of hope.
What would I say to my younger self from four years ago? Probably this: It will be okay. It will be tough going, but you will be okay.
As I’ve relearned about who I am and what I’m capable of, I’ve learned what real joy is, what courage really feels like. I don’t know that I’m brave. I just live the life that I’m given to the best of my abilities.
In my mind, I see a man standing at a pottery wheel and he’s shaping a sculpture lovingly, bringing its smooth lines out of the clay. I see the pieces of clay he started with, all jumbled in a pile. I wonder what the artist forgot to put back in me when I was remade? I wonder what he left out?
In the end, I am but a work of art as we all are. A piece of pottery that has withstood not only a fragmented existence, but the ability to come through the fire looking more beautiful than before.