Embracing My Story

Hello and welcome back to the blog. It’s time to get personal,

Today is my birthday! As of posting this on April 7, I am 24 years old. But my birthday holds an extra significance for me because it’s also the anniversary of my death.

Does that sound dramatic? Let me back up and explain. I had a traumatic birth injury to my brain stem, which led to a cardio-respiratory arrest when I was three hours old. I was resuscitated and I’ve done probably 50,000 hours of therapy (not an exaggeration) to get to where I am today. I’ve written a little bit about my personal journey, but I’ve never gotten into the specifics. I often get reflective in the weeks leading up to my birthday, thinking about this life-changing event and all that’s happened since then.

In 7th and 8th grade, my school had a Spoken Word poetry unit, culminating in an assembly night. Our mentor Frank Sentwali was memorable and insightful, and I’m incredibly grateful I had the chance to work with him.

Apparently I forgot the title of my own poem. I thought it was called “I Am”, but the official title is “Ordinary Miracle”. Makes sense.

The first time I tried to watch this, I couldn’t even watch the whole thing at once. I didn’t recognize myself. But as I’ve spend more time with this video, I’ve come to have more compassion for the younger me. I’ve long wrestled with the dissonance between how I perceive myself and how the world has perceived me (here and here) but reconnecting with this chapter of my life is helping me close the gap.

The poem is still insightful and impactful, but I was wrong about one thing. There were absolutely people in my corner, praying for me, fighting for me. My mom has been my champion from the minute I was born. I gave her some credit in the poem, but a dictionary of praise wouldn’t be sufficient to explain. I also have four amazing aunts and a whole bunch of cousins who have surrounded me my whole life.

I think the best way to explain my exponential growth over the last ten years is to show it, so I recorded this video yesterday. Anyone who knows me knows I’m obsessed with the Elvis movie, and this song has become a personal anthem for me.

The biggest difference in the last ten years is the articulation and fine motor control of my speech. I know abstractly that it’s improved, but seeing these two videos in comparison really drives home the impact. I’ve come quite a long way in the last ten years (“a thousand miles”, one could say 🙂 ) and I’ve got even more ahead of me.

I was going to call this post “Facing My Story”, but as I’ve explored some of these memories, I can be softer and kinder, embracing instead of facing. There’s no resolution yet, no tidy ending. This is a long process of untangling, but I’ve taken some good steps in the right direction. Thank you for reading and watching, and that’s all from me for this week. I’ll catch you on the flip side.


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