Hey y'all! It's been a while, huh? I missed y'all. You miss me? No, really... lol.
So let me preface this by saying that I’ve been fighting ALL of 2020, literally. I was fighting my ex-publisher for the rights to my books. I was fighting my children’s fathers for child support and my oldest daughter’s trust from her paternal grandfather, that just mysterious disappeared before she turned eighteen, though his Will said otherwise. Fighting to remain COVID-free. And add fighting for my life to the mix and I been gettin’ my ass kicked all up and through this year. But my mama has a saying, “Even if you lose, they need to know the other muthafucka was in a fight.” So, don’t think that I ain’t left my mark on this year, and that will definitely continue.
This post is long overdue. Usually, around the 30, 60, or 90 day mark after beating a life-threatening illness— this makes my third in 6 years, all in March, ironically— I’m writing about the triumphant overcoming of a thing that would otherwise have taken me out. Usually, in about a month— or three— I’m feeling much better and ready to live life to the fullest. But, all the survivals— E.coli in my kidney and the woman I loved trying to kill me— couldn’t have prepared me for what happened this past March. Long story short, I had a stroke, caused by an aneurysm rupturing in my brain, and had to get my head split open. That’s how I explain it to people when they ask. I won’t go into the details, but you can find them in an article Boiling Point: Aneurysms and High Blood Pressure in Black Women that was posted in AL.com’s Reckon Women column. (This column is coordinated by a survivor as well, Javacia Harris-Bowser, who is kicking breast cancer’s ass and finds the time and energy to run her business and help others. Check out her journey, and her company, See Jane Write, that teaches women how to blog and make a living as writers).
The healing journey has been an interesting one, for sure. But I think the most interesting part of the past five months has been the way that I’ve been treated. Some people loved on, and continue on, me. Others, showed me that they never really cared for me to begin with and were only close to me because of what I could do for them. The funny things is, that the lovers and the haters weren’t always as easy to discern as I thought. And, keep in mind, I was healing, so that was not the time, to be let down and faced with drama and ill-intent. At least, that’s what I thought. But all that aside, I managed to write books, host shows, continue to care for my daughters with no assistance, and learned that I’m stronger than even I thought. And my strength comes, mostly, in my willingness to be weak, and tired, and not feel guilty about it. Now, that’s new to me.
Watch What You Say…
Two phrases that make me cringe now are: “I’m so glad you’re doing better” and “You’re just using that as an excuse”. There’s never an in-between. I’m not knocking those who are happy that I appear to be feeling better. Nor those who think that I am, or would, use an illness as an excuse for any-damn-thing. I just want to be an advocate for those who are healing, from whatever they are dealing with, and remind you that they have the right to take their time, as much as they need. AND, heal at their own pace. If you don’t want to be in the picture while they're going through their process, then move around. And, instead of saying, “I’m glad you’re doing better” consider asking, “How are you doing?”
Perception is a dangerous thing, and we often make the mistake of placing our perception of things onto others, trying to shove it down their throats— which is unfair. Granted, even in my mind, there’s a difference between a victim and a survivor— a victim uses what happened to them as a way to get sympathy, while a survivor overcomes what happened to them and wants to move on from it. It’s a very fine line, but the reality is that you can tell the difference, and, even if you can’t— just be gentle with both, because even the victim is dealing with mental health issues, and you never truly know what stage of their healing the survivor is in.
Outta Sight, Outta Mind
I recently wrote a poem and performed it at the Birmingham Black Pride Presents Video Soul event that I hosted (from home) that mentioned the ABC’s of me. It stated, “The alphabet soup of mental anguish I've come to accept as my reality. The ABCs of me. Starring BPD, PTSD, Battered Woman's Syndrome, Rape and Childhood Trauma, Active Depression, annnnndddd Anxiety. Served room temperature in a broth of issues of inadequacy with a dollop of brain injury that I slurp up noisily every morning when I awake and every evening before I sleep.”
I’m well-versed in fighting “silent” or “unseen” illnesses. I’ve dealt with them most of my life, and only a chosen few see me on my worst days. But it’s my firm belief that it’s nobody’s business what you deal with in your life, unless they’re willing to help you carry some of it, ya know. And these things, no one can carry— but me.
This current condition, however, is, soooooo different. See, when people look at me now, versus the way I looked when I was in, and shortly after I got out of the hospital, they see the old me. But I’m so far from that. The reason that I started this post to begin with, is because my baby girl hurt my feelings the other day. She said she wished that I could do the things that I used to do with her before my brain surgery. She wasn’t being mean, just honest. She sees me playing games on my phone, but doesn’t realize that all those games are helping me strengthen my cognition and helping my memory. She sees me working, and doesn’t realize that if I don’t, we wouldn’t have food to eat or a roof. She, just like everyone else, sees the “normal” Joi. Not what’s really going on inside.
What you see: Pictures of me smiling
What’s really happening: The days that I wake up in tears and can’t get out of bed. The days that I have to recite my name, date of birth, and social to myself. The days that my vision is blurry, and I can’t do anything but sit in bed. When things process slowly, and I stutter over my speech.
What you see: Me releasing books and hosting shows
What’s really happening: That something that once took me a couple of days, now takes weeks, maybe months, to complete. And, because writing, be it a paper, a poem, or a book is “brain work” I usually end up sleeping for days after I complete the task. And this is how I feed my daughters, there are no sick days for single moms OR entrepreneurs.
What you see: Me up and out and moving around
What’s really happening: I have two children and really don’t have a choice. They help where they can, but there are some things that I have to do for them because I’m the only adult in the house. It’s not a choice, it’s a necessity. So, I push through, no matter how bad I feel.
Reasons that we’re here…
I gave birth to my motivation!
I’ve always taught my girls that what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. And I’m Hulk strong at this point. Living with purpose and on purpose is beginning to pay off, and things are already turning around. I’ve got my books, my brain and imagination's illegitimate babies, back and are re-releasing them on Amazon. My attorneys are on the child support issue and the matter with my daughter’s trust. Thankfully, everyone in my house has remained COVID-free to date. And I was alive to share mother’s day with my daughters, see my first baby graduate, and build more memories every day, as I heal.
One down. One to go. Lol. Mango's a High School Graduate!
I guess it took me so long to write this because I cry every time I think about what my life is. Or that it’s going to take me a year to get back to my old self, and some things may never be the same again. And then the fact that I could’ve not had a life at all. That bothers me more because I don’t know what would’ve happened to my daughters. Their fathers are absent and incompetent, and no matter if they were taken by family members or the state, no one was gonna love my girls like I do. And that, alone, has given me reason to live and take better care of myself. I gave them life, and they gave me a reason to live.
Until next time, loves. Stay safe. Stay smiling. Stay kind... to yourselves and each other!!
Always, Joi Miner