The energy healer said: “When we worry about someone, we are energetically telling them that we do not trust them to be OK by themselves, and so we must worry for them, because we do not feel that they are capable of overcoming their own challenges. When we worry about someone, we are energetically weakening them and diminishing their life force.” WOW! I definitely did not want to weaken Ioana’s strength, so I had to let go of my worry, work through my own fears and heal my own pain. Today’s gratitude story is about Ioana’s healing journey after having a stroke.
Twelve years ago, my sister Ioana (read “Ewoana”; she would want you to pronounce her name correctly!) moved from Cyprus to Toronto a couple of months after a massive stroke that left her right arm and leg almost paralyzed and her capacity to speak both Romanian and English impaired. She was 31 years old, moving to a new country, with her body disabled and her heart broken.
I was happy to share my home with her, but I was scared down to my bones about her having another stroke, about her not getting better, about her going deeper into depression. At the time I had no idea that depression is a common aftermath for a stroke survivor. I was afraid to go out and leave Ioana at home by herself, because I was worried that she would have another stroke while being alone. One of the things that I had struggled with the most was the fact that at the time of her stroke, in Cyprus, she was alone at home; three full days and nights passed before she was finally found, clinging somewhere between life and death. But she was young, fit, stubborn and strong and did not die; instead, she moved to Canada and started a new life.
Her determination and strength drove her on and on, and she got physically better, month after month after month. Her emotional journey however proved to be more difficult; for both of us. I was not equipped to help her. I struggled and got angry and frustrated and continued to live with the fear that she might have another stroke; this thought worried me the most…. actually it terrified me and stole my sleep. I wanted so much to help her; so I took her to a naturopath, an osteopath, a massage therapist; I cooked healthy food for her, monitored her eating and her water intake. I was determined to watch over her and make sure that she was OK. My efforts were not welcomed though and Ioana became resistant and angry with me.
I was exhausted, felt frustrated and decided to ask for help, so that I could better understand what was happening. I went to see a naturopath and then connected with the energy healer. The naturopath told me this – I remember her words very clearly – “You have taken her journey upon yourself, you see… and you cannot do that. You must respect her journey and allow her to go through her own pain, mourning and follow her healing process. But you MUST remember that this is HER journey, not yours. If you make this important distinction, your fear will subside and you will become fully present. This is how you help your sister: by being her witness and staying present within yourself.” Her words shook me and I felt like I woke up from a deep sleep. I understood what she was saying. She was saying to trust Ioana to overcome her challenges, to witness her progress and to help her when I was asked. I changed my approach completely, because I now knew that the only way to truly help my sister was for me to let go of my own fear. Within a few weeks our communication improved, we were both more relaxed, and I was able to see the progress she was making by herself. Ioana was going to be ok. Over the next couple of years, she recovered completely. If you just met her, you would not even notice the slight limp and the way she moved her right hand. She did it all by herself, with her strong body, her determination and her life force. My worries and fears had no foundation.
I am grateful that Ioana shared her healing journey with me. Through it, I learned that the best way to stand by someone when they are facing a challenge is to TRUST that they have what it takes to overcome it. We all have what it takes. Always!
Thank you, Ioana.
A few years later I read Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor‘s book “My Stroke of Insight” and better understood what Ioana tapped into in order to heal her body. Brain researcher Jill Bolte Taylor studied her own stroke as it happened – and has become a powerful voice for brain recovery. Watch her on TED Talks.