After my stroke (Sept 2006), I was convinced no man would want me. At that time I was a 24-year-old woman, who couldn’t speak, read, understand or leave the house alone. I put my mind into small goals and getting back to work, I rarely left the house and I was dependent on my parents – especially on my mother. I just assumed it wasn’t a possibility.
Although my blood pressure and cholesterol were low, I was overweight and set to loose some weight. In doing that I gave myself some confidence. In Autumn 2009 I braved the scary prospect of joining the world of online dating. In my profile I made sure to say I loved coffee so I wouldn’t have to go in a noisy pub, and that I’d been on a health kick – I don’t mention the minor inconvenience of having a stroke, bit of a turn off…
My first few dates were hell, spontaneous conversation, banter is something to be feared to an Aphasic person – being direct and to the point is far easier! I struggle with my colleagues and friends, let alone a date. It was unfortunate that I had been asked to be a bridesmaid the day before my very first date, can you imagine our first conversation, the only topic that was on the tip of my tongue? What a way to scare him off!
There were a few more awkward dates, never knowing what to say, always struggling for what to say… Tie-tongued indeed. To have Aphasia is to hope the people you meet don’t talk too fast, that they don’t make you feel nervous, that they speak to you in a slow measured voice so you have time to respond. Nowadays I’ll tell people to slow up and explain again, but at the time I couldn’t. And then I met him. Slightly older, very calm and self-assured, beautiful eyes with a slow measured voice. We actually talked about everything.
I didn’t set out to tell him in that first date about the stroke, but I did, and he didn’t run away!! (phew). At the end of the date he asked if he could see me again, obviously I was shocked, said yes and he could be in touch. Our 2nd date was at the zoo, and the third was at the Aquarium. My theory was if we were doing things, with minimal background noise, chat would be easier – and it was a good tactic, there was always something to start a conversation.
Watching Sarah Scott in The Undateables, I was with her every frustration and awkward pause. The lady is fearless, to go through that journey with a camera crew, she has balls of steel! Sorry for the rather crude turn of phrase. I remembered how painful and upset I had been at some points. But when you meet someone who eases your speech (as you are with your family), you’re on the right track.
I’ve gone through a lot of Aphasia first’s with D. He’s got better at trying to get it, and I’ve got better at trying to explain better. I’m sure we will have more first’s with Aphasia, happily it’s our 3rd year anniversary in June… Who knew we’d survive three years. He’s my rock, my lover and my best friend. He’s the one I tell everything, he doesn’t judge when I sit in a quiet room not making conversation, he puts the fire on when the boiler is just too noisy, he doesn’t laugh when I can’t say the right thing.
Love isn’t perfect, but you have to be open to the journey. Sarah’s obviously ready, it may be a harder journey for her, but it really is worth sticking with.