I would never know how prophetic it was to have gone through Cheryl’s book that speaks volumes on extreme self-care which is exactly what TBI requires for survival. It is fascinating to go back and read this (although it makes me cry sometimes) this is who I was after the first TBI. I really did feel I was getting better…little did I know another rear-end accident would happen in just a matter of months and my life and hopes would be shattered once again...permanently.]
Tuesday, June 10, 2003
I believe I am finally turning the corner after nearly one year and am feeling better more often than simply once every three to four weeks – and without the use of caffeine! As I’m heading into what I hope to be the final days of feeling terrible, I want to document some this journey. I’ve asked myself three questions, what have I lost, what have I gained, and what have I learned?
I lost the ability to speak – I lost the ability to communicate with people I love and cherish the most in this world. I lost the ability to determine what I was feeling at any given time. I lost the ability to deal with things as I had in the past; my coping skills were all but lost.
I lost “friends,” I lost a boyfriend who said “he’d love me unconditionally,” and “his love for me would never die.”
I lost my job. I lost my confidence. I lost my self-esteem. I lost my knowledge of everything I’d ever known. I lost the ability to work with my horse. I lost the ability to carry things. I lost the ability to have the satisfaction of starting and completing a task.
I lost the ability to see any task as anything less than a mountain – from doing laundry, to getting myself ready each morning, to making a simple phone call – I was exhausted before, during, and after the task.
I lost the ability to hold thoughts long enough to write them. I lost my gift for encouraging greeting cards to people and that’s a precious gift to me.
I lost my strength; I drowned in weakness, helplessness and hopelessness. I tasted despair and was suffocated by depression so deep that all I saw was black.
I was stripped of my pride and felt painfully alone and embarrassingly transparent and vulnerable. I could feel the cold floor as I hit rock bottom and could do nothing but pray and cry.
I lost my sense of humor, I lost another precious gift of being able to make others laugh, something I’ve loved since I was a child when I first dressed up as the Fig Newton guy and danced in front of the TV every time that commercial came on.
I lost my connection with myself, God, my friends, my family, and my world. I suddenly believed I didn’t belong, fit in, or was accepted anywhere, and I was now visibly different if only through my own eyes.
This newfound awkwardness made puberty look like a cakewalk. I lost the shelter of belonging and being active in my groups and social life. I lost being a part of life itself. I lost being able to give and help, to be and do.
I lost the ability to make new friends because I couldn’t remember anything they told me.
I lost the ability to recognize people I’d known just months or years before, lacking words to speak in greeting or replies.
I lost the ability to ask my birth family questions at our first ever reunion last year in Georgia. I lost the ability to know what it feels like to feel good, energetic, or have stamina that lasts. I lost the feeling of having energy reserves.
I lost the ability to multi-task. I lost holidays, evenings and weekends with friends and family.
I lost my immune system and suffered from more colds, allergies, and viruses than I probably have my entire lifetime combined. I lost the ability to be active, another love since childhood.
I lost the ability to have success, for everything I did was muddled with mistakes, distraction, and lack of concentration and focus. I lost my hope for being a productive member of society.
And I lost my hope for the future believing I could not live out my duty or role as a loving wife and believed no man would want a woman like that.
I have gained a heart that wants to help more and hurt less.
I have gained a heart that wants to communicate to find a solid ground, rather than fight creating walls and wounds.
I have gained a heart that relentlessly wants to help others in similar situations – help out without the person having to tell me what to do because most likely they simply just don’t know.
I have gained humility and a willingness to suffer and finally accept the outcome of loss understanding that if God sees it fit to even take the very essence of me away that has to be okay because it was Him who gave it to me in the first place.
I have gained a heart that seeks forgiveness and healing for the deepest hurts caused by others and to walk in a love that this world has only longed for. I want to remember to “forgive everyone for everything.”
I have gained a heart of compassion that cries and prays every time I see a car accident on the news or in real life. I have gained a fragile heart that cries even when car accidents are merely portrayed by Hollywood.
I have gained a heart that wants to make mature decisions that have been well thought out and planned.
I have gained an understanding of my limits.
I have gained a respect for God and the strength He gave me every day that I took so much for granted before.
I have gained a painful insight to understand we all have our trials and our pains – no one gets through this life unscathed, even though many appear otherwise.
I have gained insight into how much we mask just to get ourselves through and sometimes so we don’t have to deal headlong with the truth, and many times, because we’re all so scared.
I have gained an insight and perspective on friendship and gratitude for those who did not turn away, and I’ve been disappointed and lost respect for those in my life (who spoke of ‘unconditional love’) and did.
I have learned why some people turn to addictions – I did for a while, there is just so much pain a person can take…especially alone. I have learned what it feels like to go crazy, like I’m losing my mind.
I have learned that no matter how dark your circumstances are, there is a net of people – many of them I never knew before, that God will be place in our lives that we do not fall too far.
I have learned of God’s provision and more of His character…and I’m learning about real unconditional love. I’m learning, hearing it said from people who do not know each other, “You’re so precious to me,” as if from God Himself, and I know I can make it.
I have learned how hard we strive for things that don’t really matter, throwing away the things that really do.
I have learned the devastation that Alzheimer’s patients and families must feel and the helplessness that accompanies that disease. I have learned statistically, because of my injury, I’m now more susceptible to Alzheimer’s and I have a genetic link to this disease as well. But then again, I believe in miracles and I believe in a God who can do anything He darn well pleases. So I’ve learned to take it one day at a time, and I’m learning to Let Go and Let God.
I have learned to do what I need to do for me even though it disappoints others. I have learned that I don’t like to ask for help when I’m at the place where I cannot return the favor nor even take the time or energy to write a thank you note. Gratitude and showing appreciation are such a part of me; it’s difficult to not be there!
I have learned the friends that can’t ride with you through the hard times cannot be classified under the precious gentle term of “friends.” This has been one of the toughest things to accept since I’ve walked through the fire with others. I’ve learned Love must be Tough.
I’ve learned that we’d choose not to struggle if we could, and I’ve learned that when faced with something like this people ask, “Isn’t there something they could give you to help you remember?” Ah, the answer is always in a pill.
I’ve learned that acceptance equals peace, no matter how you slice it.
I have learned it’s best to let the person you’re trying to help lead; trying to change them or tell them what to do will only add distance and pain. You never know, you may just be their only link.