As I come up on one year since my traumatic brain injury, I am hit with the realization of who I am now. Brain Injury is such a silent disability and that is what I am now to a degree. It has taken me many months to be even to say that or admit it to myself. When I think of disabilities, I don’t think of myself, but I am that now. I have learned to come to accept it and understand that I can not force my way back to healing into who I was, that Tj is gone but who I am now isn’t all that bad either. For the first time in my life I feel like I was handed a glass of clarity. As I drank it down I began to see the world for what it is not for the reality we all try to create. Some may think, oh god, what does that look like? Well I can tell you it is beautiful. Everything to me is holy now, amazing, a miracle. The simplest things can bring my eyes to tear up with happiness. I get for the first time in my life why we are really here. Don’t get me wrong, I thought before this I got it and I did to a degree but now something inside me has been changed. I get it in the depths of my soul. Things that once meant so much to me mean very little anymore. Things like what brand of clothes I wear, or what label I should use to describe myself. Even my dreams have drastically changed. I want things that spiritually feed me more. I want to surround myself with people who feed me, lift me up, inspire me, challenge me, and most of extend to love to all they meet.
This is injury has proved to be the hardest thing I have ever gone through but it has also been the best blessing I think I could have ever gotten in my life. Although my road to recovery has proved tough on so many levels, it has also shined a light on to my possibilities. It has helped me to see what we are all capable of if we just let ourselves shine. A dear friend said to me once that most of us are just surviving not living and she was right. At the time I thought I was living but now I realize I was just surviving. Don’t get me wrong, I have my bad days. My days where I want to question why I survived? Why does my life now seem to require so much of me when at times I can barely function enough to get out of bed and breathe? Then the answer comes to me almost in a whisper. I am here because I am needed. I am here to give love but also to learn to receive love. I am here to teach, show, inspire others that goodness, love, strength and compassion still exist in this world. That people will help other people just because it is the right thing to do not because we can get something from them.
During the course of my recovery I have lost some people in my life but for those that I lost some amazing people came in with more love and encouragement then I could imagined. I can’t go out and see all my friends all the time anymore. Why? Because large groups of people, lots of noise can be too much stimulation for my brain. I end up tired, exhausted and sometimes very irritated. ( Irritation is part of my frontal lobe injury in my brain.) Sometimes it takes me three days of resting and quiet to recover from the energy it took for me to be in that kind of atmosphere. Some friends have understood, others well lets say they have gone their own way. I still need a hearing aid in my left ear to hear at all out of that ear and my smell and taste.. well still gone. I do miss how things tasted and I miss the smells that brought me so much comfort in this life but I am hopeful that one day it will come back. TBI is tough because you to look at me you would never know anything was wrong. You wouldn’t notice that inside I feel like a stake is being driven through my head, or that just when I was about to say something to you the words themselves just disappeared completely. You wouldn’t know after you told me to meet you tomorrow at 2pm that minutes later I could completely forget you even told me that. You also wouldn’t know I use an app on my phone to remind me just to do daily tasks that most people do without even thinking about them. You wouldn’t know my confidence in being this new person is low or that I get anxious being around big crowds. You also wouldn’t know there are days that I just have no motivation at all to do even the basic things. I have to push myself to overcome and just live. You also wouldn’t know that when the people I love, friends, family discount what I am telling them, with words like oh don’t let your injury control you, or you look just fine you are alright, or even stop making it worse than it seems it really just makes me want to burst into tears. I suddenly feel all alone in this world trapped in a brain that no one seems to understand. I have to learn through my faith, other TBI survivors, support groups that this is all part of traumatic brain injury life. What this has done is want me to be a beacon for TBI survivors. It has also made me look at other human beings with more patience, more understanding. For instance in line at the grocery when I see a person struggling to count their money I say a little prayer for them and wonder what is they are dealing with. I send love and light their way and bless them as much as I can. See this is WHY we are here. We are here to love each other, to support each other, and to have a sense of community with each other. There is a much greater purpose than the stuff we collect, the jobs we work, the labels we call ourselves. Take all those away who are you? What do you have left and mostly what do you stand for?
TBI has stripped me down to my bare bones in a way that has brought more light and love into my life. I am still in recovery and I will always be dealing with my brain injuries for the rest of my life. What I won’t do is allow it to take me out of this game of life. I have a special gift that come this May I get to go to a Traumatic Brain Injury camp in Burlington, VT (www.loveyourbrain.org) run by the organization Love Your Brain founded by snowboarder Kevin Pierce. I also will be “running” in my first marathon ever at the end of camp. We all do as TBI survivors and caregivers join together to encourage each other that we cannot overcome brain injury but we can find ways to live with it to the fullest!! I say run in quotes because more than likely I will walk. I am scared to death but I am doing it anyway because I need to show myself I can do small things. I may not be able to run the whole race or even half but I can do some and that is enough for right now. Right now that is HUGE for me and this has become my new normal. Celebrating the smallest of things that I can do because at the end of the night enough small things make one big thing and that alone is enough. So for all the TBI survivors out there: YOU ARE AMAZING! YOU ARE LOVED!! YOU ARE NEEDED!!! Keep fighting the good fight. I love you all.
I found this it speaks volumes to me and I hope it does to you as well:
I beg you… to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without ever noticing it, live your way into the answer….