*My legs gave way and I crumbled to the floor. I felt hopeless as I struggled to my knees. I could no longer hold it together. My muffled cries became sobs as I realized I was on the verge of a relapse.
I thanked God for His Grace and Mercy. I asked Him for the strength and guidance to endure. Surely, He did not bring me this far to leave me. I finally surrendered to His will and acknowledged to myself that I have a disability. At that moment, a sense of calm came over me.
At a young age, I refused to allow society, the church, family, or friends to label me … to put me in a box. Coming out at the age of 13 was daunting. And yet, I prevailed.
But this time was different. Surviving a stroke after the diagnosis of a rare brain disease for which there is no cure is life-changing. This is my new normal. For so long, I refused to accept that reality. I am a fighter … I am a survivor! This could not be my life. But it is. It saddens me to realize that I will never be the same person I was before my stroke. Perhaps, the blessing and the lesson is I’m not supposed to be the person I was before my stroke.
I reminisce about dancing freely: the music moving through me, taking the day’s stress away. Due to the permanent nerve damage on one side of my body, all I can manage is a graceless two-step. I laugh to keep from crying when I refer to it as “the old lady” dance. Yet, I am grateful to do be able to do a two-step shuffle. I wipe my tears and realize how blessed I am to be alive. Some people don’t survive a stroke. I am ashamed as pity sets in. I will never again be able to do simple things. I cannot run at a natural pace. I am off-balance whenever I try but then God whispers,But you can walk. I feel defeated when I experience short-term memory loss, then God whispers, But you can write.
I rise to my knees and heed God’s message. I focus on the things I can do versus what I cannot. Those are the gifts I will hone every second, every minute, every hour, step by step, and day by day.
My life is completely different than what I thought it would be. And yet, God has restored everything I thought I lost with something greater. I can no longer function in my chosen career of sales. The stress of meeting deadlines and monetary goals could cause a relapse. And yet, I am a two-time published author, determined to become a best-selling author. I cannot run but I can walk and sit behind a microphone as I host a live LGBTQ radio show. I am living my authentic life … out loud and proud.
I grieved and healed from a devastating divorce. And yet, being a grandmother to my grandchildren brings me a level of joy I never imagined.
THIS is my new normal. As my gift to God and in return for His blessings, I will rejoice in it.
Monika M. Pickett is an LGBTQ advocate and the author of PRETTY BOY BLUE and THE DARKEST SHADE OF BLUE, available on Amazon. Please visit her at www.MonikaMPickett.com