The other day, a few of my good friends from Charlotte were hanging out with me. They were getting ready to leave and I said "Thank you for coming!" in an appreciative yet robotic-like fashion. One of my friends started laughing and replied, "Why the formality?! It's still us." I knew he was right, they had been over hundreds of times before my stroke, and they would be over hundreds of times after it. It was still them, yes, but... Was it still...me? I have been dragged through dirt, mud, garbage, and hell the past three years. I have felt hopeless, helpless, meaningless, powerless, and useless, after living 23 years that were utterly and completely full. In a split second, I went from cloud nine to rock bottom. What. A. Fall. I went from smiling all day long, for quite literally no apparent reason, to being completely unable to smile physically, to being unable to smile emotionally, to finally being pretty apathetic to the whole smiling thing. And it's not like one tragedy in your life makes you invincible, untouchable to more tragedy. Nope. I have been beaten down so much by the world, whats left of me? Has it all changed me?
Three years ago, I had an ugly stroke of reality. The world I had once believed in, the world that I thought beautiful, and just, the world that I even wanted to save, had revealed to me it's cruel power - it didn't need saving, I did... Then, I went through an ugly breakup. I always used to see the good in others - it was probably my greatest gift, and my most tragic flaw. I didn't do this knowingly, but now, looking back, through my slightly more critical lens, I realize I did only see the best in others. I realize now that people can seem so good on the outside, but capable of being so bad on the inside. I've decided to instead, trust in my dog's opinion of others, because I dont trust my own. One bark = like, two barks = dislike. He pretty much barks 50 times at everyone, so our system still needs work. Or it just means that he loves everyone (like mother, like son)... And all the while, I've been going through this ugly rehab process. Before all of this, I was enamored by the medical world, the science, the knowledge, the service, etc. but being a patient now, I've felt how much we dont know at all about the human body. Ive heard the phrase 'I don't know' more times than i can count. I think I've been disillusioned and disappointed by everything..But then I read this: "Sweetheart - this pic's for you babe. Just to remind you of my smile - how you make me smile. How even if you're so far away - I smile when I think of you 'cuz you're truly my angel. The one who I NEED to see at least once a year or I'll lose my mind. People like you rarely exist babe and I'm so so blessed by your presence. I'm humbled by your unselfishness, your sweet personality, your unwavering support, and your unconstitutional love. I <3 u forever." That was a message written to me by Rajul, on the back of her senior picture, that she gave to me TEN YEARS AGO. But its EXACTLY something she would say to me now! I think that means I'm still me (and Rajul can still write so beautifully, it makes me melt). Yes, my skin is thicker, my mind is wiser, m blood is...thinner? (daily baby aspirin, baby), and my heart is careful, yet my soul is, thankfully, forever unchanged. So i guess I've grown, not changed. Sorry world/fate/destiny, I know you tried really hard, but I guess I'm still the same ol' G... You can take everything I am, you can break everything I have, like I'm made of glass, like I'm made of paper..... Go on and try to tear me down, I will be rising from the ground, just like a skyscraper...just like a skyscraper.