I love TED Talks! As in anyone-who-says-they-enjoy-TED Talks-is-automatically-my-new-best-friend kind of love. And, no, the poor souls never see it coming. This morning, this 16-minute talk showed up in Twitter and I’ve been excited to share it all day long!!
The title reminded me of my friend who celebrated his first birthday after surviving necrotizing faciitis (flesh-eating bacteria) as his I Didn’t Die birthday. And it reminded me of so many of my fellow survivors in the Aortic Dissection Support Group on Facebook. I hadn’t expected to hear so many of my own thoughts come out of someone else’s mouth.
On the other hand, I wasn’t surprised that someone else had those thoughts. Suleika Jaouad gave voice to an idea that I’ve been pondering. In the years since I survived my ascending aortic dissection, I have noticed that I have as much in common with cancer survivors as I do with dissection survivors. I also have a lot in common with people who have dealt with break-ups, being relieved of job responsibilities and the key to the employee entrance, financial losses, etc. You can add whatever you want to the list.
These are the 9 things I’ve noticed so far:
- You are not alone. Everyone has either already endured a struggle or will eventually endure a struggle. No one finishes without at least one, and some people should probably just get their own punch card.
- Any loss is still a loss, any pain is still pain, and no one else gets to determine how big, bad or scary your struggle is.
- More often than not, you weren’t asked if it was okay with you. No, you didn’t get a vote. Yes, you get to clean up the collateral damage.
- Surviving wasn’t necessarily a matter of being a warrior. Let’s face it – it’s intuitive for us to do what we can to not die, and everyone around us from family to physicians is doing everything to help us survive. That being said, it doesn’t mean you’re not going to work your guts out getting to the other side.
- These things can change you in ways you may not be able to articulate. In fact, you may not want to share your thoughts at the risk of sounding ungrateful, because…
- Your new life might suck. (I’m no angel, but this blog hardly seems the right place for a word that may offend some. So I apologize for any offense, but maintain that this is the most appropriate inappropriate word I can think of.) But honestly, “new normal” is a phrase only used when the change in your life is no picnic, right?
- You are not the only one who went through it and came out on the other side a changed person. Your friends and family (and even your coworkers) are now the friends and family (and coworkers) of the person who survived. They have a “new normal” to adjust to as well.
- Your recovery doesn’t have to be pretty or polished to be progress.
- Finally, the biggest lie you may ever believe is that you’re the only one. Your story, statistics and survival may certainly be unique, but…See #1 again.
That’s it. That’s all I have right now. No confetti, pep talk or words of wisdom to end this post. But while you’re here, feel free to share something you think might help someone else not feel quite so alone.
Oh, you are so loved!