Everyone should attend a class on real life and engage with a stroke or brain injury survivor. It’s amazing what you can AND should learn about them … AND yourself. I absorb volumes every chance I get.

In a text conversation with a stroke survivor, they asked if they had behavioral issues because their caregiver said they were doing too much. They also wondered if medication could be causing irritability.

All I could say was, “Life can cause irritability!” with a line of smiley faces.

They said they asked their doctor about the meds and one of them can cause irritability. I understand when someone else thinks you’re doing too much. It can seem too much to them because of the limitations they see, the yellow, orange or red flags … they’re not seeing it through your eyes, just as we cannot see it through theirs.

Even when we love someone dearly and are their biggest cheerleader, sometimes we are blinded by the DISability that can cloud our vision … which has often been smeared with tears and fears. As I often remind survivors, their caregivers nearly lost them. That’s why they can hover like a helicopter at times.

Almost every stroke and brain injury survivor I’ve talked to wants to push themselves because they want the challenge AND chance to improve. Like exercise, you’ve got to push a little more each day to achieve goals, to improve your stamina, and recapture what independence you can. We’re human and independence is what drives us, to be self-sufficient and chart our own course …

Though of course, there are always lazy people who want everything handed to them. We know a few of those, don’t we?

I reminded this person that they have a determined personality … and that’s one of the many things I love about them. To see the progress they’ve made has been huge and so heart warming.

They said, “I have no filter according to some. I’ll get to Lowe’s eventually to get a replacement one day lol.” Laughing aloud, I suggested that Home Depot also carries them in stock …

Filtering can be a pain … everyone has a hole in their filter every once in a while where something slips out in excitement, anger, exhaustion, confusion, misunderstanding.

The blessing and curse of loving someone is that we can easily hurt each other unintentionally and by simply letting loose when alone. The mask we put on in public is not the face we have at home. We all take relationships for granted at times … that since they love us, they’ll put up with whatever crap we toss out. Uh, no. Don’t leave please and thank you at the door when you get home.

Our human tolerance is often tested in ways we can’t see or understand in the moment … until it breaks after a long, slow boil or with little warning.

There have been days when Roger has been so kind to me and wants to help, but I need space more in that moment. After 40+ years, I’m getting better at reminding him it’s not a rejection of HIM, but a lifelong experience of being an only child and endless hours of thinking, processing, creating, etc. I’ve made a lot of changes, but some deep-seeded habits will never go away.

As the oldest of five, he was used to someone always being around, constant engagement. He’s the extrovert. I’m the introvert. And between the two we meet … love, sustain, laugh, cry, tolerate, love …

And our conversations are better over time … still learning AND accepting new things about each other … Occasionally, I’ll extend a hand and say, “Hi, I’m Monica.”

As the song goes, love the one you’re with … but take a little more time to engage, embrace, educate and even entertain. Don’t erect more walls or barriers when illness, injury or disease strike … or real life simply interferes. Just chisel through one brick at a time and invite the sun to illuminate each other in a new light …

Hey, honey, where’s the chisel? I need to loan it to someone …

Hey, drop me a line at [email protected] or leave a comment. I’d love to speak to your group, organization or company about working our way through the pain and challenges of everyday life. You want straight talk? You got me!