When Life Threw Her a Curveball, She Found a Way to Accept Her New Normal
June 17, 2019 .3 min read
What does a new beginning mean to you? And is that the same as a new normal?
I believe that a new normal is often the start of a new beginning and will tell you a personal story, so you understand why I have come to believe that.
I turned fifty a few years ago, which was a real milestone in my life. It was the age I bargained to reach when I suffered a massive brain bleed. I was just 32 at the time.
My doctor said it was the most difficult case he had seen and had no tools in his tool-box for it. The aneurysm was located two inches deep at the tip of my brainstem inside an AVM, which is a malformation of blood vessels.
When he told me how small my chances for survival were, I told him he should do his job, and I would do mine. He clipped the ruptured aneurysm, and six weeks later when he took the 76 stitches out, he told me that it was my attitude that saved my life.
Many people said things like:
you must feel like this is a new beginning
you have a new lease on life.
But the truth is that my road to recovery was a long and lonely chapter.
As an immigrant, I did not have family close by and was self-employed with no disability insurance. I had just moved to a brand-new community where I did not know anyone and was stuck in a lousy marriage with two tiny toddlers. Trauma and adversity change relationships, and unexpected caregivers, medical personnel, neighbors, and even perfect strangers, may become your saints and angels.
Finding meaning and purpose in a traumatic experience is crucial in order not to get lost in your own small world.
When I published my book called "Surviving Lasts a Lifetime" and heard many other stories, I learned thatnew beginnings are often about accepting a new normal. Many people around me were putting one foot in front of another. You gain perspective that “looking up and around" instead of down can be a new beginning in itself. We can help one-another because of what we have been through. Giving back is a powerful way to find meaning in our experiences.
Consider in light of Memorial Day how many Veterans have to face new beginnings when they return from active duty and how many suffer from PTSD and other health issues. In fact, Veterans are trained to help others before they help themselves and when they are faced with traumatic injury, they, themselves, and others around them often struggle to honor their health.
Two years ago, I developed a program called Cause Day™, which is aimed to deepen the connection between social-emotional health and charitable giving. Cause Fund is a non-profit and offers a platform where each person can donate to any charity.
Last year, the charities that received money from the participants in Cause Day™ included many veterans organizations such as:
Homeless Veterans of America,
Homes for our troops,
Project New Hope,
and Vietnam Veterans.
If you are interested in raising money and making a donation to your own favorite Veterans charity or any other charity in honor of Memorial Day Weekend, you can do so by registering here.
Or if you would like to organize a Cause Day™ event in your community, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And let’s all come together, each in our own experience, by donating to a charity of our choice, and celebrating our own new beginning and that Surviving Is All Around Us!
Astrid Hendren is the author of Surviving Lasts a Lifetime: A Parent's Journey through Medical Trauma, a memoir of her traumatic, near-death experience when she suffered a massive stroke after a brain aneurysm ruptured at the age of 32.After surviving against all odds, she began a journey of recovery to overcome intense pain, loneliness and the fear that her children could be left without a mother. Through sheer grit and determination she developed new ways to parent and cope as her life as she knew it was changed forever.