Do You Feel Divided From the Person You Used to Be?

Life changing events may leave you feeling divided into “the person you used to be” and the “person you are now.” The change may not be drastic, or the change may create a profound before and after.

Lauren Marks explores this idea in her new memoir, A Stitch of Time.

Seeing Old Friends

Lauren Marks recounts a conversation she had with a friend following her aneurysm. Lauren’s friend sees her once she is out of the hospital and gives her a hug, saying, “There’s the Lauren I know and love.”

Lauren explains on page 51,

Rachel didn’t mean to upset me, but I found her statement profoundly jarring. I didn’t jerk away from her embrace, but inwardly I was recoiling. I had woken up from brain surgery changed — there was me, here and now, but I sensed there was another shadowy character in the mix here too: The Girl I Used to Be.

Dividing the Person

Lauren explains on page 51 that it was the fact that her friend couldn’t see the change that upset her.

The life I was living suited me fine. But somehow Rachel hadn’t seen the chasm between those two people at all, and it was the misidentification that wounded me.

Lauren takes the time to explain her internal changes to friends and family, sometimes with good results and other times with more misuderstanding.

The Familiar and Unfamiliar

Lauren didn’t know herself how to feel about the divide and the resulting two sides of herself: the old and new. She writes on page 52:

I had acquired this other woman’s family and friends, her boyfriend and apartment. What to make of this familiar unfamiliarity? I was not the girl who had built this life and shaped it to her personal preferences. Though I didn’t have any major complaints about what I had encountered yet, I also didn’t know how to interact with it, or what my obligations might be to the system I had been inserted into. Did I just accept this inheritance, with all its fearful and joyful dimensions? Did I have any say in the matter? Would I ever feel anything like The Girl I Used to Be? And was that something I should even want? I didn’t know how to know. I didn’t know how to remember.

These powerful questions lay down the path that Lauren walks in the next section of the book as she tries to figure out her new place in her old life.

Do you still feel like the person you used to be, or has aphasia divided you into a person with a before and after?

Image: Jeremy Bishop via Unsplash



  • Michelle Stringer
    July 6, 2017 at 10:34 am

    Hello, I live in Leicestershire in the UK. When I was a very active and healthy 36 year old, I hada Spontaneous Carotid Artery Dissection. I won’t bore you with the whole story but after nearly a week in hospital, 5 weeks of blood thinking injection an 4 months on Warfrin my dissection healed. Basically the just sent me home to get on with my life. I owned my own businesses, which we eventually had to sell because of my fatigue and constant migraines. It’s now seven years later and 6 month ago I broke down and felt like I just couldn’t go on. The Pain an fatigue were so bad but the hardest thing for me is coping with who I am now! Because my aphasia is Anomic Aphasia people think because I can have a fairly fluently every day conversion I am fine. But finding names, nouns and expressive words is just exasperating. I long to be the funny quick witted girl I used to be and not someone who struggled to ask for things in a shop or bank. Who wants to cry when I can’t remember the name of an application or process I’m trying to show a work colleague. I’m sick of hearing but you look so well! I don’t know who this person is or what I’m capable of anymore. I can’t remember the names of the people who surround me. It kills me as I’ve been through so much in my life but this broke me. I have suddenly got angry as I had no after care to cope with the changes I’ve had to cope with. I’m blessed that my husband is my best friend. He says jokingly, I think, that he loves the new quiet me. If you knew me, you would know how bubbly I am, naturally happy. But this has been so hard. I see older people in their 70s and 80s get frustrated after stroke but I’m almost treated like I should get on with it! Thank you to everyone who posts their situation after brain injury. It helps us feel we are not alone and that someone understands! Thank you! Xxxx

  • Gail
    July 6, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    when this ordered …. is it my life too xx

  • Jim buerer
    July 7, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    The things I miss. Joining in on group conversations.
    Talking on the phone. I can’t hear as well as I used to.
    Making a point without getting frustrated and sounding upset when I’m really not angry.
    Public speaking. Words flowing easily from my brain to my mouth.
    With all of this said I feel lucky. I had a stroke.
    Physically I am normal. I am ok with my current status.
    I just don’t feel normal!

  • Anonymous
    July 8, 2017 at 8:28 am

    This is profound! It would be good to read
    And educate ourselves, we never know
    What is around the corner for amy of us, AND it might help us understand our friends and family that have experienced this. Thanks Judy. 🦋😊💕🙏

  • Louisa
    July 10, 2017 at 9:25 am

    I was in surgery in 2014 for my brain aneurysm, and I came out of there very different. That was because I had a stroke that day, and I was diagnosed after that with “very dense global aphasia (receptive and expressive)”. Yes, I am a very different person now. I get depressed easily, I no longer work, but now – 3 years after my stroke – I am living with it. Not the best, but I’m living. I have started to do whatever I can – I write. I am starting a BA university course: it’ll take me at least 3 years, but I truly hope it will help me. I’m 60, so sometimes I think I should be very grateful that this future for me didn’t start when I was young. I feel very sorry for many others I’ve read about. Best luck to all others who have the same sort of future as mine ❤

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