That Time My Heart Broke. Literally. – Part 43 (“Did It Change You?”)

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012
Jennifer Holliday performing And I Am Telling You... at the 1982 Tony Awards

I wanted to get a picture of Jennifer Holiday singing “I Am Changing,” but this was the best I could find. (It’s her performance of “And I Am Telling You” from the 1982 Tony Awards.)

Sometimes going through a big life event changes people.

This post is to address if I think all this heart stuff and struggling to get back on my feet changed me.

I think it has. Whether it has in a better or worse way can certainly be debated…

A lot of people say that almost dying helps them feel the need to “live every moment.”

I’m proud to say that I never felt that. It was nice to know that I was already on a trajectory that I liked before I entered the hospital. I was running a lot, and losing weight. I was working and writing a lot.

I worked on the aspects of my life that were important to me – my career and improving my health. And I didn’t really have any “I wish” moments in the hospital other than “I wish I wasn’t here right now. I wish I was out doing the stuff I’m already doing.”

That may sound braggy, but I am so human, and I make plenty of mistakes in life. I think it’s okay to be proud of the time when I was actually doing something pretty right.

Then I fell apart a little… okay, maybe a lot. As you’ve read in the story, I was a mess. I moved a lot. I didn’t always know where I’d be living. I lost all the fitness and speed I’d worked for. I ended up transitioning out of theater and into reality TV because it paid more, and it just kind of happened. And I let it.

It’s maybe easier to be more bullheaded when you don’t have to worry about basic survival stuff. When the going got really tough, what did I do? I just settled and moved to L.A. and took a nice, comfortable job and lived in a nice, comfortable apartment. I look back on the last few years of my life, and I don’t see really anything all that special.

When I graduated high school, everyone (including me) thought I was gonna do some amazing stuff. After high school, before I got sick, everyone kept thinking I would do amazing stuff.

Now all I am is someone who takes the comfy reality TV paychecks and lives a very normal life.

And here’s something weird. A part of me maybe wants a normal life. There is a big part of me that talks about going to “real” college, and maybe doing something in the medical field. From the time I was a toddler to the time I got sick, I never questioned myself or my chosen field. I don’t like feeling flounder-y. That’s not who I am. I’m a crazy fighter. Or at least, I used to be.

After my surgery, I almost felt like I’d lost my “superpower” – whatever it was that made me, me. Is my personality wrapped up in some random extra fibers on my heart? No. Of course not. But it did feel like I changed.

I don’t live my jobs anymore. I don’t have a life that revolves around work. Maybe that’s healthy. Maybe it’s not. I don’t know. I like it and I don’t like it. I liked living my work, and always being too busy for any vacations. But, now I’m used to taking time for me. That’s nice too, but still a weird feeling.

My drive, my craziness, it’s in me somewhere. I’ve seen glimmers of it this past year.

But I’m not as crazy. And unfortunately, I don’t know that I’m as driven as I used to be. I don’t know exactly what happened. I don’t know precisely how to get it back. I do know that I try everyday to be a better person than I was the day before.

And this whole thing of being a “better person,” and being more understanding and compassionate to the people around me – that’s new. I’ve softened since my whole ordeal – which also could be good, or it could be bad.

I don’t always like myself, but I do some pretty okay things.

Will I ever be who I was? I don’t know…

More thoughts coming tomorrow.

I'd love to hear from you! So whaddya say?