Saturday, March 3, 2012

On Being Dependent

One of the most difficult things about brain injury for me was the helplessness. I was not used to being taken care of. I was used to being independent and strong and letting others lean on me. After my accident it was always a constant battle, striving to recover and yet yielding to assistance when necessary. It was a balancing act and it was one I wasn’t very good at.

            Facilitating a support group gave me a whole new perspective. It allowed me to view my situation through the eyes of others. Listening to caregivers and victims sharing their feelings I was able to be on the outside looking in. For the first time I was able to imagine how my wife must feel and I was able to hear how I must sound to her. This new knowledge is one of the rewards that I have found in being a facilitator. My only regret is that it took me ten years to figure this out. 

            A brain injury is tough and it is overwhelming, one of the first things I was faced with was that many of the things that brought me joy were now beyond my reach. It was often easy to feel like there was nothing left to live for. I saw all my dreams shattered. I felt I had been cheated and I had lived my life to completion. As I often do in dark moments of despair I turned to “Illusions” by Richard Bach, my favorite book I paged through it looking for an answer and this is what I found:

Here is a test to see if your mission in life is over,

if you’re alive

it isn’t.


I’m just one person, but with over twnty years post TBI, I keep finding reasons to be here. Open your heart and touch a life, there is never a shortage of those who need someone to lend an ear.

At times I honestly felt there was nothing left to live for, but in saying so I was telling others that they are not worth living for. I can now imagine how that must have hurt. They were helping me because they loved me, not because they pitied me, which is the way I felt. I decided I must never esteem the love of others too lightly!

            I had always been the strong one. The one all others could lean on and draw from my seemingly inexhaustible reservoir of strength. Now it was time to accept that I had to be taken care of, and that I must yield the care giving responsibilities to others, especially those I had previously taken care of. The shoe was on the other foot! So, as much as I may not have liked this new arrangement, all the wishing in the world wouldn’t make it otherwise. I had to face reality.

            This didn’t mean I would stop trying. If anything, the way I feel should motivate me to do whatever is required to expedite my recovery. Until then I can accept help. All false independence does is make everyone miserable. The least I can do is be thankful, humble, and cherish the love I receive from others.

            This is how I have decided to view my world. This should make my path a little easier to traverse and I know it will make the lives of my caregivers more rewarding. We live for them as they live for us.

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