Fractured Family Tales

Fractured Family

I saw my son drive past me.

We've not spoken since 2012. Like so many others, he didn't know what to make of his “new dad,” so he simply left.

He walked out of my life without explanation. After two years of phone calls, texts, and emails – all unanswered—I am still bewildered.

He’s not a kid. Earlier this year, he turned twenty-eight.

While out for my daily bike ride, I spotted his very distinctive Jeep: the jumbo, over-sized tires, and an out-of-state plate were dead giveaways.

Not too many people cycle in my neighborhood. I know that he spotted me as well.

I did a quick U-turn so I could catch up to him at the intersection near me. My simple intent was to say “hi,” to see how he looked, nothing heavy.

I am a big believer in fate and saw this as a sign from a good and friendly universe.

As I pedaled back to the corner, a smile starting to creep onto my face, my hope was that our period apart was about to end.

Apparently, he knew it was me.

He gave his Jeep all it had and sped out of our neighborhood. I saw his back bumper getting smaller by degrees.

His message was painfully clear – not today, Dad.

Family life after brain injury?

It’s complicated.

People walk out of your life without explanation, without just cause, leaving you to wonder what the heck happened.

I am healing.

The shock of what he did, of his aggressive attempt to not see me, the feeling of complete loss and uselessness only lasted a couple hours. Today I am OK. That alone is a sign of growth.

If he ever chooses to come back into my life, I will be ready.

In the meantime, maybe by sharing this, you will realize that you aren't the only one. You might be thinking: Some of my family left me as well

These days, family is no longer defined by shared DNA. In fact, these days, shared pain is stronger than most anything.

Peace to all who have lost loved ones after brain injury – and peace to my new TBI family.

Comments (10)

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Just like another wife said...Its been three years since my husband's TBI, and I still struggle with trying not to say the wrong thing or upset him. Add two children to the mix and its a challenge. I will always love him though. I hope he knows that.

The recovery from a TBI I received when I was 18 had a huge affect on my family. My brother and I are still distant to this day. I share a lot about my experience in my memoir The Beauty of My Shadow: A Story of Strength. The book has just been launched in Wal-mart Canada stores in the Inspirational book section of their larger stores. I hope to inspire and empower others with my story. I am raising money for the advancement of education. I think that the public needs to be educated better on how to empathize and support others going through a recovery from a brain injury. Help me spread the word by reading my story and commenting on it!

***** Awesomeness!!!
I'm a 2 year Survivor and this was an awesome story to read. I recommend it to Survivors & Caregivers both!!!

Coming up on the 15th anniversary of my TBI and 5 1/2 years since losing my awesome husband to lung cancer, I am totally alone. "Family" deserted me a long time ago. They couldn't *handle* the change. Completely, utterly alone. I face my demons daily and I'm amazed I've made it this far.

50 years old. Damaged. Alone.

I was in a motorcycle accident 12yrs. ago. My mother and sisters left me because I say what i think! My hubby of 32 yrs. is still w/me. He's a truck driver and only home 1 day a week. Whatever I say or do pisses him off, but he's with me still. I haven't talked to my mother in 11 yrs because of who i am. She died and I don't feel anything -- not one tear!!

Well, I can't see real good, I can't smell or taste anything. I don't remember a lot either. No friends to talk to. I'm alone always. I watch t.v. all day, take care of my animals every day and that's my life. It sucks. I need someone to talk to like me. Oh yeah I swear a lot too... and don't piss me off or you'll get an earfull. Please talk to me if you crashed like me and no one cares...I do.


My (ex)wife's way of coping.  Was to hope that all my health problems would 'just go away".

My (ex)fiance's way of coping, was to 'diagnose' me with thirteen different mental and physical health problems.

The four comments I've read are so reminiscent of the past for me. It's a new world if you've sustained a TBI. Mom & Dad can be counted on. Brothers and sisters, not so much. With Mom and Dad gone, forget about a helping hand from siblings. The youngest of six children, I stand alone today. That is fine...the base constructed from upbringing by Parents have served me well and meeting George Ware afterwards allowed me to wander off into the fields of silence. Cold, indifferent, resentment, whatever the case, sister Jeannie proved shockingly two faced. Combined with brother Greg, they constructed a wall of isolation an impediments along the path to rehabilitation.

I am grateful for their insolence towards me..."reflection is a powerful tool when one looks at things "with the JR(just right) Perspective." Acceptance of the present allows one to journey beyond reality as seen through the eye of a TBI. All is possible...all is possible...if thou so believes!!!

We are what we are which entails what is seen within the eye. The singular eye which knows and knows, and knows...!!!

It is there to be grasped...set the mark and slowly but surely, all things shall be realized in your field of dreams.

It is all, find, relax, an is all inside.

Art Cortis

Its been eleven years since my husband's TBI, and I still struggle with trying not to say the wrong thing or upset him. Add kids to the mix and its a challenge. I will always love him though. I hope he knows that.

Losing family is one very painful aspect of TBI. For me, I was 15 and in a motorcycle accident, left with head and neck trauma, left hemisphere dysfunction which resulted in a "dead zone" there and my dreams of being a surgeon were all washed away in a single day. The positive aspect was my age, I was young and the brain has amazing recovery skills, the right hemisphere took on almost everything the left had lost.

Recently I had an accident with Traumatic Brain Concussion, that old fear kicked in and the pain has gone on for weeks now. Ct-scan says no brain bleed no fracture, just a badly bruised brain. Just the same, it took me years to recover from the first accident and it nags at me, will my rattled clarity of thought remain or will it heal, will my forgetfulness be worse than before, how long will I run into walls, drop things and lastly how long will the hellish head pain last?

Then I remember, I climbed out of that dark tunnel once before and I can do it again. When I was 15 I had more energy for it though, today at 60 I have to pace myself and push myself all at the same time. I understand about losing family, its so hard. As a TBI person I know my personality changed, that said over the years I had to "practice" being socially interactive, I had to practice the art of conversation instead of just wanting to run to a quiet place with no noise. I still get "peopled out" and I still crave the quiet. I spend a lot of time outdoors in my vegetable garden and flowers. I find peace and a time to pray. I think maybe being a TBI person changed me for the positive in the long run. You are right, family isn't always in the blood line, but can be found in good friends sometimes more so.  Kasey Burt

My family of origin (as I now think of them) was toxic before I had the TBI's (and 2 brain surgeries). In healing and trying so hard to hold onto any semblance of my "first life", their toxicity is what shone through. I began therapy and began to see things more clearly. I fostered the relationships with friends...those who knew me, loved me, supported and encouraged me. The ones who want me to remember self-care, even when it means I need to cancel plans with them. The ones who have held me as I sobbed and took my hand and let me know they wouldn't abandon me. Those who are in my life are the ones destined to travel alongside me.

This is another one of the things of tbi that I don't understand. Husband and two sons have been solid rocks that I can lean on and depend on each and every day. My two sisters however don't seem to grasp that this tbi thing is the gift that keeps on giving. One has cut me off completely the other will speak to me on the phone only when I call her and she decides to answer which is usually once a month. I am thankful for my husband and sons and am learning how to grow family, it's been hard but I've become close to some remarkable people.