The secret of change is to focus all of your energy
not on fighting the old, but on building the new†
Like it or not change, being our only constant, is life. But after a brain injury, change feels quite different from life. Everything was going along as expected until suddenly it wasn’t. In an instant “everything” exploded and life as we knew it vanished. Like Dorothy, in The Wizard of Oz, we woke up in a foreign land – incomprehensibly strange and frightening.
Try to remember back to that day, face-to-face with brain injury for the first time. Then look at yourself today and notice the dramatic difference between then and now. At some point in the future, when you look back to today you’ll find you’ve changed again… and again… and again as time passes. In fact, change, being our only constant, is life.
I know how painful it is to look in the mirror and not recognize the person you see. How do we reconcile those two “selves” – the BEFORE and the AFTER? My life was turned upside down when a car slammed into me. From that moment on, everything that used to be easy was hard. I was precariously balanced between the familiar and the unknown; dependent on others and despairing at all I could not do. I was lost – unmoored from the world I used to be so confident in. I remember thinking, “if I’m injured in the place that tells me I’m injured (my brain), how do I even know what’s wrong?” It was (excuse the pun) mindboggling.
But actually, not knowing what was wrong wasn’t such a bad thing. It gave me the freedom to see myself in a new light and to explore a plethora of possibilities. My BEFORE was one thing – in an office, multi-tasking, and finishing one project after another. My AFTER is another thing entirely – no office, one task at a time, and often not finishing at all. I’ve spent a lot of time trying to find ways to move forward despite the deficits, moods, and irritation that are always ready to pounce.
In moments of clarity, I remember that change is the only way to build the new. But what kind of “new” am I seeking? Bottom line, I just want to feel good in my skin. I’m sure we all want the same thing – a meaningful life. The starting point is to regain our confidence, self-esteem, and hope.
For now, my “new” is TBI to LIFE, something I never in a million years thought I could do. It’s painfully hard to write, and ridiculously scary to hit the “publish” button. But I keep at it despite wondering what more I have to say. Why? Maybe because writing the blog is a change I initiated, not one that that was imposed on me. And for sure your responses have given me the confidence to stay the course.
Living with TBI reminds me to keep my eye on the brass ring – how I want live and the person I want to be. Life is much harder and I am much harder to live with. But I’m also more empathic, patient, and forgiving of others and myself. That is what keeps me going, keeps me growing, and is definitely a life-changer.
And you know what? Right now you may feel like you’re stuck, but rest assured that in the future you will get un-stuck and move forward – changing once again.
Hold onto this thought when you need it most.
The best is yet to come.
† Dan Millman, Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book that Changes Lives (1980)
Change, Being Our Only Constant is the title of an artwork by Max Rippon (2013)
The discrepancy between how one sees themselves and how others see them is the adjustment we all seek to solve. I think a TBI survivor struggles with this discrepancy because they have the added view of who they were, who they are and who others see them as. I see you as confident and worthy of esteem, as for hope, that I cannot speak to.
You are setting goals, meeting them, and producing a blog, I can see hope in that! Thanks for writing and sharing so much of yourself.
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