In my travels around the country speaking to the brain injury community, and during the time I’ve spent counseling survivors on line, I’m so often confronted with people who are so heart broken and frustrated and angry because they are no longer “normal” and will, likely, never be.
I tell them how normal they really are. Normal that they would be frustrated and heart broken by an injury that takes so much. Angry. Scared. Brain injury is no gig for sissies.
But I remind them that they are normal in a bigger way. That NOBODY gets through life unscathed. Nobody. Everyone has or will have that condition, disease, accident, injury or event in their lives that knocks them sideways and turns their life upside down. It’s one of the prices we pay for the gift of living.
I tell them, “Don’t be normal. Be better than normal!!!” We haven’t been put into a box because of this; we’ve just broken out of it. Armed with a unique perspective on how quickly life can change and how blessed we are to still be alive, the survivors of this injury and like conditions/situations get to learn what many don’t learn until far later in life.
This is a gift. An opportunity. A door blowing wide open. It’s a chance to decide that life really is too short and that there is no time for bad relationships, grudges held and mean spiritedness. Truly. What’s the point? How many years is enough to stay in a bad marriage, to hate a loved one for a misdeed you can’t even recall, or to keep taking back that rotten bastard promising never to hit you again?
People are seeking the greener grass that doesn’t exist. Nobody is normal and everyone is. Nobody struggles like me and everyone does. It’s life. And sometimes life comes knocking sooner and sometimes later but it does come knocking. And it might wear a hundred different coats but eventually it breaks everyone’s heart.
Beginning to successfully recover from brain injury, regardless of how many symtoms persist, occurs in that moment when you lay down the anger because it no longer serves you. When you stop counting things lost and start noting things gained and left and still available. When you start laughing at yourself again.
I often think of brain injury recovery as waiting for a bus. You sit at the bus stop waiting and waiting and waiting for the bus to come. To be healed. To be returned to the life you chose. And then…one glorious day, you simply get up and start walking.