Life changing events may leave you feeling divided into “the person you used to be” and the “person you are now.” The change may not be drastic, or the change may create a profound before and after.
Lauren Marks explores this idea in her new memoir, A Stitch of Time.
Seeing Old Friends
Lauren Marks recounts a conversation she had with a friend following her aneurysm. Lauren’s friend sees her once she is out of the hospital and gives her a hug, saying, “There’s the Lauren I know and love.”
Lauren explains on page 51,
Rachel didn’t mean to upset me, but I found her statement profoundly jarring. I didn’t jerk away from her embrace, but inwardly I was recoiling. I had woken up from brain surgery changed — there was me, here and now, but I sensed there was another shadowy character in the mix here too: The Girl I Used to Be.
Dividing the Person
Lauren explains on page 51 that it was the fact that her friend couldn’t see the change that upset her.
The life I was living suited me fine. But somehow Rachel hadn’t seen the chasm between those two people at all, and it was the misidentification that wounded me.
Lauren takes the time to explain her internal changes to friends and family, sometimes with good results and other times with more misuderstanding.
The Familiar and Unfamiliar
Lauren didn’t know herself how to feel about the divide and the resulting two sides of herself: the old and new. She writes on page 52:
I had acquired this other woman’s family and friends, her boyfriend and apartment. What to make of this familiar unfamiliarity? I was not the girl who had built this life and shaped it to her personal preferences. Though I didn’t have any major complaints about what I had encountered yet, I also didn’t know how to interact with it, or what my obligations might be to the system I had been inserted into. Did I just accept this inheritance, with all its fearful and joyful dimensions? Did I have any say in the matter? Would I ever feel anything like The Girl I Used to Be? And was that something I should even want? I didn’t know how to know. I didn’t know how to remember.
These powerful questions lay down the path that Lauren walks in the next section of the book as she tries to figure out her new place in her old life.
Do you still feel like the person you used to be, or has aphasia divided you into a person with a before and after?
Image: Jeremy Bishop via Unsplash