You’re a tough likkle thing whether you like it or not.
This time of the year always tends to call on reflection. The 16th of December in particular, is The Day of Reconciliation in South Africa.
Reconciliation by its definition means resolution and understanding/settlement. How fitting, as it’s taken me what feels like an incredibly arduous journey of survival and war with what was familiar, myself, and some things I held as truths in my mind, to finally reconcile to what is now, and to be at peace with it.
On this day in 2021, I had a doctor’s appointment which began as a regular check-up, and ended up with me being admitted to have an MRI on the 17th because I had had a suspected stroke.
As I mentioned, it has taken me some time (most of this year actually), to reconcile what had happened to me, and accept the changes of who I was, and who I am now.
The entire journey of trying to negotiate how this event began and what it unravelled has been a feat to behold. I think I’ve cried the most this year just trying to figure out the how and why. But what I can say now, is that, as hard as it has been, I do finally feel what others have said to me throughout the year as I’ve mentioned in passing the reason why I’ve been consistently tired, or maybe ‘different’ to the person they knew before.
I do feel strong, resilient, and tough to have survived what has been a life-changing and somewhat traumatic series of events.
Between you and me, I really hate the word strong. And resilient. And while I know people often say this to show support and empathy for what you have endured, I’ve been these things for a very, very long time, and well…it’s tiring.
That’s not to negate why people respond with this when you share how much you’ve been through. Trust me I get it. But to have been strong and resilient from 10 years old (when I experienced my first loss), and again at 12, and again at 22, 25, 29, 30…the word I guess, begins to lose its intended meaning and you start to wonder, why me, more than accepting its truth that you are, indeed as tough as nails.
This year broke me, and was not at all what I expected looking forward to it (is it ever? lol). But what I can say about all the tough truths I had to face in what felt like a beatdown of note, is that I am stronger for it, but I’m now able to live this truth on my own terms.
This year meant throwing away the plans I had after (finally) receiving a promotion and bonus (first one ever by the way as a working hun), which I’ve been working towards since 2019 when I joined my current place of work. Good things take time, and hard work is rewarded they say, but having worked throughout a global pandemic, at times doing more than you need to because “you need to show/prove your worth”, the thing that enters your mind can become “what am I doing wrong?” until that question is validated.
I finally felt stable, financially, and thought, “Okay, this is finally it girl! All those things you’ve been putting on hold – a podcast, going back to blogging and possibly freelancing, the big 30th you didn’t have because covivi, the company you spoke about starting as a wide-eyed and hopeful dream-infused black child – NOW, you can finally do it.”
Imagine my dismay when it felt like all of this was taken away. Stripped and ripped from my hands feels more fitting. Because really? After everything, a stroke is what I get to start the new year?!
Now that’s how I felt. Truthfully.
Angry. Depressed. Scared. Sad. Confused. Tired, and probably a whole lot of other emotions because man, it’s a lot to hold. But in the craziness of this year, the disappointment of what I couldn’t do and had to let go of, what it also brought out of me is a lot of who I know I am but had forgotten about or chose to ignore because of how I thought my life should be lived.
The toughness of this year brought out my grown self, needing to step up and do things I never would have expected like MC’ing my cousin’s funeral. The toughness of this year forced me to take a step back from what I know I love doing and can achieve career-wise and realise that if I don’t make changes, my job might kill me. The toughness and difficult road of this year forced me to grieve my mother again and contest with wounds I thought had healed but needed a bit more attention and care. I learned about boundaries and how hard this can be in relation to our parents, friends, and possible significant others. I’m not good at those, but slowly the word “No.” is growing on me, and for that I’m thankful.
The toughness of this year made me realise that some people will get you, and some just won’t, and that is okay. What’s not okay is to stay in these spaces when you can feel there is no love there for you.
This year taught me, it’s okay to be an egg, and to break in all ways even though you don’t like people knowing or seeing that side of you. The ones that get it will stay, and the ones that don’t, well, you don’t need – even if you thought they were in it for the long haul.
This year brought out a lot of my insecurities about relationsh*ts and the hole I have with regards to this and never feeling “enough”, and also “am I (doing) too much?”. I made some messy choices because of the lack of love I had for myself and what I deserve, but some of those choices were also because I was living in “I don’t care anymore/I hate it here/what’s the point-Ville”. Being exhausted and thinking you deserve the worst because of what’s happening around you and what you’ve been through will do that to you….but more on this another time, because the likkle baddy with a booty is back, and I will never again allow myself to feel “less than”, or that I deserve the least in love, again.
I am Amanda Murimba and I had a stroke at 30, is not something I could have ever imagined being part of my story, given what I’ve endured and mentioned here, and other things I have not that make me who I am.
A stroke isn’t really something you see coming. Rather, it’s your body telling you “Hey man, I’m not managing all the things you’re putting me through and I need you to slow down,” albeit in a somewhat vicious way.
Am I strong? Am I tough? Am I resilient? You can bet you last Madiba I am, but for now and evermore, I’m living it on my terms, and that’s not always going to be 1000% like I usually go about my business.
My resilience and toughness is me being able to break when I need to, again and again, until I feel okay to roll with my rickety bike to the next thing. It’s taking time out to decompress. It’s crying more and being okay with that. It’s unlearning the “tough shit” that brought me here in the first place and saying, “Well Amanda, what does 100% look like now and feel like for today?”, and then embarking on that challenge, one small and slow step at a time.
Despite the career, creative and personal goals I had set and missed for this year because of this thing that happened…I can say with my chest that I’m so proud of what I managed to achieve, on my own terms, in spite of that.
I had an amazing 31st birthday party with women who surround me with love, that I admire, and really bring out the best in me despite very sometimes confused and lost self.
I survived working a really demanding job, with (very) long hours all year, in a somewhat unempathetic environment, and keeping it together when most individuals that have gone through a similar incident would take 4-6 months, if not longer, off…(More on this in a future post…)
I registered that company I’ve had in my mind and heart for years and years (finally) because I kept waiting for ‘the right time’ (It doesn’t exist, just do it scared, you’ll figure out the rest later). Also more on this later…
I won a course from thee Maps Maponyane that I know will help this small budding business of mine (what are the chances? God’s plan, amiright?).
I cried (a lot, like a lot a lot), and started healing from some past traumas I thought I had dealt with.
I learned a tough lesson about being messy, but also taking responsibility for my role in the outcome, and that how the third parties involved respond to this is out of your control. Sometimes it’s shit and sometimes they refuse to acknowledge their part in all this, but outside of you owning up to your part in it, the rest is out of your control and a response is not something you have to berate yourself into oblivion for. You’re human and mistakes happen. That’s it. Learn, apologise (sincerely), and then put what is no longer yours to hold, down.
Now that I’ve taken some of 2022 to recover, I look forward to 2023 and being tough and resilient as Amanda 2.0.
I look forward to loving me, and all my flaws more. To saying NO more. To growth, because it never ever really stops until we say enough, right? To more moments surrounded by love, and the things that really matter. To more money for my henjoyment without stressing about it because of “what if”. To more flights, and feelings with the right one(s). To more naps, more rest, and more of what fills my cup in the right way.
Ladies and gentle brothers, introducing Amanda and minimandz 2.0.
She’s not less than, although she’s a little damaged (aren’t we all?). She’s a whole vibe with so much to give. A tough cookie if you will. And however this cookie is baked or crumbles in the new year, I promise to take her all little bits in my stride, however slow, boring, or unusual it might seem to anyone watching.