Thursday, April 26, 2012

My New Superpowers

I have acquired some new superpowers. Like most superpowers, I acquired them as a result of a mishap. In my case, it was not exposure to radiation and or a chemical spill, it was not even X-rays from space or exposure to a meteorite; it was the result of being hit by a semi-truck.
 As is typical, it took a while for me to discover and learn to use my superpowers. Just like in the comics I did not welcome my new superpowers at first. Just like in the comics I hid them and was ashamed of them. I did not want to admit that I was "different."
 My first superpower is that of "Radical Acceptance" or as I call it "Epic Grace." It started when I first accepted my injury, fault became immaterial because it didn't change anything. Once I forgave myself I could forgive the world. Once I forgave the world I could forgive anyone and anything.
My second superpower is "Unique Perspective." I have died and yet I live. Nothing really seems like a big deal anymore. I have lost everything, anything I have now is a bonus, each day is extra, tacked on beyond what I would have had. I no longer fear death.
My third superpower is "Indomitable Will." After my brain injury everything became very difficult. There was no easy way to do something. If everything is hard then it doesn't matter what I try, anything can be done. If I can learn to walk, I can run a marathon. If I can learn to talk, I can learn a new language. It is all the same.
So with this trio of Superpowers I make my way through the day. It not only makes my life easier, it makes life easier for all those around me. These superpowers are special too, as they can only be used for good; no matter what my intent, the result is always positive.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Why I Don't like Motivational Speakers

I really don't like motivational speakers because, when I see one of them dancing about the lectern and spouting trite adages with a silly grin, I hear one of two things, and these are really the only two messages they can possibly give me; one is that they obviously have no idea what I've been through or they wouldn't be up there smiling and dancing in mockery of me, or two, the alternative, which is that they do know what I'm going through, they have had it even tougher than I have, and look at how much better they are than me, as they have beat their demon and I am being consumed by mine.

I have learned that when I tell someone my story or even discuss a small part of it, if they tell me something vapid and pithy like, "Life is like a box of chocolates..." I just roll my eyes and shake my head. They obviously have no idea. Once again I feel alone and misunderstood. That is mere sympathy and it is very condescending. Not unlike when someone says, "I must have a brain injury too, I'd forget my head if it wasn't attached." I don't hold it against them, they're just trying to say something nice. If however, I share something and they shake their head and say something like, "Wow, that's nasty!" I feel much better for having shared, because they obviously have heard me and appreciate what I'm going through.

I also don't mean to say that what the motivational speakers are saying is nonsense, far from it! Only that it doesn't help for someone else to tell me to be strong, because that message needs to come from within.

This is my motivational message: Recovering from brain injury is tough, it is often without reward, and frequently you are alone and unappreciated. When I hear THAT acknowledgement from someone else, I feel better. That renews my strength to carry on.

Sunday, April 1, 2012


The other day I was talking to the HR rep at work as we were once again trying to find a place, a role, a job that I could perform successfully. Some jobs were discussed that I could perform, but they were held by other people and so they were not available. She explained to me that it would not be fair to those people to take their job and give it to me. I nodded, I knew she was right, I understood that we must be fair; but inside I was seething, because there was no attention given to fairness when I was hurt, but now I have to be fair. Fairness had become the end of my rainbow, always out of reach. When I got home I wrote this:


They didn't save my life, they made me not dead. I am alive, but I have lost my life. I am still me, but everything that I was is gone. I may look like I have lost nothing, but how I look is not how I feel.

I have lost my dearest competencies. I have lost my most cherished abilities. I have lost my certainty and with it my confidence. I have only the most tenuous grasp of reality; the reality I have does not seem to be the reality shared by others.

And you presume to lecture me on fairness. Oh please, really? You are going to tell me that what I'm asking for is not fair? Do you really want to go there? When did fairness crop into this situation? When I came to in the hospital and I could not speak, walk, or remember anything, there was no fairness. When I struggled for days, which became weeks, which became months, which became years, there was no fairness. When I fought to put any kind of meaning in my life, a life where friends slipped away, where job opportunities slipped away, where possibility burned off like the morning fog, there was no fairness.

To me, fairness is a luxury so rare and fleeting its occurrence is mere coincidence. Fairness is a naive childish notion, like unicorns and leprechauns, a trite conjuration of innocence to be properly discarded with adulthood. Maybe fairness has weight and meaning for you, but it has none for me.