Corey’s had a few difficult days. Her awareness brings many emotions she’s not used to working through. This piece of cognitive/emotional growth is significant but frustrating for her and for us.
When she identifies her anxiety or fear, we try to enhance her insight with the factual information that supports how she could appropriately respond to the scenario. Seems like a “normal” strategy to intellectually resolve a conflict, wouldn’t you think?
Corey appears to understand the explanation and within seconds, repeats the same concern but with an escalated reaction. She argues, becomes aggressive and instead of our deescalating the crisis it leads to further aggression and yelling. She repeatedly demands an answer, “when will I be normal”? Our “new normal” reveals itself again…we are living with brain injury.
Once again I seek the words that will calm, inspire, motivate and strengthen our mantra ‘Never Give Up and Never Give In’. Kara Swanson, a speaker within the brain injury community, wrote the words of encouragement we needed to read today. As I read her blog entry, her words transcended our current challenge and I thought it applied to all of us. I hope you find her words to be as comforting and encouraging as we did, xoxo
Forever Seeking “Normal” ~ Kara Swanson’s brain injury blog Dec. 16, 2008
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 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 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 abusive person promising never to hurt 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 symptoms 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.