3 years…such a short period of time in the grand scheme of life yet it seems a lifetime has passed.
After Corey wrote her post last night, she turned to me and asked, “what have you learned”?
I sarcastically responded, “Other then the obvious”? Pharmaceutical drugs, Neurological anatomy, Physical, Occupational, Speech, Cognitive and Behavioral therapy techniques, Insurance claims, appeals and bill management, adaptive design for home renovations, alternative techniques including cooking, art, aqua and music therapy, and networking with survivors, families and legislators across the country? She said, “No, mom, YOU”.
3 Years ago our lives were structured and routine. Kids were in college, Corey was working, looking forward to college and I had a fulfilling career I loved. I began making plans for my empty nest. The accident forced those plans to change.
The lessons I’ve learned coincides with the lessons taught in a book I’m currently reading, Deep Change – Discovering the Leader Within; by Robert Quinn. Although it is written for the Business arena, its lessons can cross over to an individuals personal life. As I continue to learn how to cope with our new normal, Quinn’s message best translates my personal healing.
Change invites uncertainty and hard work. Quinn coined the phrase, “Deep change or slow death”. He explains, slow death happens when we deny that our situation has grown structured and stagnant. “Symptoms include: being a passive observer, feeling powerless, having no vitality, no purpose, feeling like you are going through the motions.” Why would any one choose that life style? Quinn points out that most people pick this because we are afraid to change. Sometimes our patterns feel safe, masking tunnel vision and boredom.
But what if you were forced to change due to life’s circumstances. Everything you knew, every routine, every enjoyment had to change. This is what Traumatic Brain Injury does to individuals and families.
Chapter One of Deep Change is entitled “Walking Naked into the Land of Uncertainty”. Quinn makes a distinction between incremental change and deep change. Incremental change involves advanced planning with well thought out steps. The person making the change is in control and can reverse course at anytime. Deep change is radical – we surrender control. “It requires new ways of thinking and behaving. It is major in scope, involves risk-taking and is generally irreversible”.
Change comes with choices. October 2, 2010 I had a choice.
1. I could withdraw, feel victimized, refuse help and sink into depression.
2. I could keep doing what I’ve always done the way I’ve always done it and find myself struggling to cope and keep up with simple obligations
3. I could take the time to seek advice and counseling, assess the situation, educate myself, accept help and create a new plan.
4. I could change my thinking, my attitude and my behavior.
I’m no saint…”walking naked into the land of uncertainty” comes with a “dark night of the soul”. I occasionally chose #1 and #2 (they’re perfect ingredients for a pity party) but it was #3 and #4 that caused deep change for me and helped me develop new coping skills and life strategies as well as continue personal growth. This change is permanent.
Deep change can be frightening. It’s not comfortable to look within. It’s much easier to focus on the external lessons and tangible tasks then to face my emotions; but I try to practice how to consciously respond to situations rather then irrationally react. It’s not easy. I stumble and I’m still working on it (just ask the kids) but I’m honestly trying. If I can respond to this new normal with a vision in mind, change can be positive for all of us. Change can provide new perspective and new energy
What Change has taught me so far;
The circus arrives without warning
The usual cliches are not comforting when you’re in the fox hole
Follow your intuition
Don’t let fear guide you
Perspective can save your sanity
An act of kindness is the greatest gift to give and receive
Power of Positive thinking fuels stamina
Faith – God has patience and will wait for this definition
Its okay not to talk to Him everyday, it doesn’t mean He’s not beside me
Be gentle with myself, I’m allowed to make mistakes
Never give up and never give in
Change is guaranteed…it’s a Matter of Time, xoxo