Emotions after a life changing event may pull you in two different directions at the same time. When Kelly Walsh finally leaves the rehabilitation center after her stroke, she is simultaneously joyful and fearful.

She writes about these conflicting feelings in her new book, Love Stroke, a unique memoir told from two points-of-view. Last time we talked about Brad’s feelings about life after a stroke. Today we’ll talk about Kelly’s feelings in this latest installment of our online book club.

conflicting emotions

Loving and Hating the Same Thing

When Kelly pulls up to her house on page 93, she is greeted by an enormous welcome home banner created by a colleague from work. She writes, “My breathing became shallow. The banner was right there on our driveway, where everyone could see it … It was a wonderful, generous gesture. I hated it.”

She often feels conflicted, feeling both gratitude as well as frustration in the same moment. On one hand, it is wonderful to see proof that you are loved and missed. On the other, Kelly doesn’t want to be defined by her stroke, and a banner across the front of her house puts the stroke front and center in everyone’s mind as they walk up her driveway.

Bittersweet Goodbyes

Even leaving the rehabilitation center to go home brings out conflicting emotions. Kelly admits:

I was ready to go home, until it was actually time. The night before my discharge, I lay awake, thinking and worrying. What am I going to do? It’s a different regimen, and I don’t know how I can do it on my own and keep making progress. Going home was a huge and scary step. I was excited and petrified all at once, but there was no turning back now (p. 91).

Kelly recognizes that she’s going to have to jump into the unknown in order to keep moving forward, but that doesn’t stop her heart from pounding the whole ride home with both excitement and anxiety.

Other People have Mixed Feelings, Too

The person with aphasia isn’t the only person concerned with how things will go once they leave the rehabilitation center. Kelly describes her parents as “waiting on the front step, their faces a strange mixture of joy and fearful anticipation” (p. 93).

Kelly also describes wanting to see loved ones she missed while she was in the hospital and also dreading their visits. People want to show that they care and give her support, but Kelly explains, “I was easily overstimulated by people and noise, and as soon as they arrived, I found myself wishing they would leave.” Visits can be both a positive and frustrating experience for everyone in the room.

Do you experience conflicting emotions as you navigate aphasia? Tell us about a time you felt two ways at once.

Join this online book club! Purchase copies of Love Stroke at any online book retailer including Amazon.

Image: The Tire Zoo via Flickr via Creative Commons license