I have always thought that people do not give you the belief of feeling important you give that to yourself. You do not need anyone to validate your importance in the world but we all need it sometimes. We desire our family to love us no matter what, our friends to include us, and our community to embrace us. We never expect that our world will crumble from the inside from something that happens to us on the outside. It happens and for people with traumatic brain injuries it is the beginning of a very long and arduous journey. It is a journey of discovering who we are all over again. In an instant, our sense of who we were is gone. Some of us never regain it again.
To all of us loving who we are is important so that we go out in the world and show the world that it is who we are and what we stand for and why we think the way we do and what we are capable of accomplishing. Your beliefs and ethics and morals are all significant not just to you, but to those who love you and those who you have not met yet. What happens to you when you have a brain injury is critical to the ability to be able to be cognitive of who you are. The purest sense of just being the person you are, that ability many times disappears.
The belief that you are worthy or important or that our life matters; well we wonder where it went and it is almost incomprehensible to grasp. It becomes the search for the knowing that who were is somehow still there. Your family wants you back, your friends want you back, your community and co-workers want you back and MOST of all YOU want YOU back.
You become a series of inadequacies and your feelings or sense of who you are is diminished a hundred fold. You are trapped in a body that doesn’t work properly anymore, your emotions are all over the place, and you yearn to be who you were. You may feel all of this and not even be able to speak it because you don’t have that capability. If you can actually remember who that was, would you go for it? Would you think about it every day and wish that you were there again. You’re Damn right you would!
Our sense of Self is wrapped up in the things we find important and the things we have accomplished, who we love what we enjoy. Those are not gone but you may struggle to do them or even remember what they were; so much so that they fall away from you and you have to rebuild as you struggle to catch them before they dissipate. Restoring your whole Self is no easy task and you may end up being someone you never thought you could be or you may end up never being anything you thought you’d be. Yes they sound the same but they are uniquely different in that in the latter you are not the person you thought you could be, you become a person that isn’t able to be who they would like to be. You can’t always help it; it becomes a new and unsettling reality.
Head injuries change everything and tonight I thought about that a lot. I listened tonight to some amazing people at our TBI group. People who are care takers and people who are survivors. We all are different from who we imagined we would be and our lives were changed forever by a car accident, a stroke, violence, and being hit in the head with an object. We are Different and we all are finding our way back to ourselves. I am no different from the other survivors we all struggle with similar things. The only thing that makes my situation significantly different is that I was a child, a small child and it was 41 years ago, not 10 years ago not 2 years ago, these folks are still really working hard on recovery physically and emotional and mine is more emotional, at this point and I struggle with weird things. Things that rarely anyone ever notices, some of my struggles are so ordinary they don’t seem as significant as when I walk into our group. One of them is pain, from a hundred falls from seizures, I have good days, and bad days, just like the masses. Yet they truly understand me.
Therefore, every time I attend our TBI group I come out of there feeling significantly improved upon just by being surrounded by people who care. I thank them for embracing me for who I am and encouraging the good in me, they see it and I am happy to say I know what it is too. My wish for them is to everyday fight for who they were or strive to be better so that they can find themselves again.