The old me died (Findings, part III)

Walking along the path to the parking lot behind my middle school, I can’t wait to reach Mom before breaking down into tears. 

Most days I can at least make it home before crying, or at least to the car where Mom picks me up after school, but not today.  Today the pain is too much, and the emotions are too strong. 

Mom holds me as I cry, strokes my hair, wipes my tears.  

“When will I have my life back?” I ask her, pleading.  “When will I just get to be me again?”  

           Mom doesn’t have an answer for me, but she holds me just the same. She lets me cry like this every day as I mourn the loss of my former life. Sometimes she cries with me.

Mourning the loss of the former self is an important part of identity reconstruction for individuals with brain injury.  For many including myself, grieving our “old” identities helps us recognize the end of an era – of life without brain injury – and move towards acceptance of life with brain injury as a liminal space.

Sure, grieving is a phase, but it comes and goes. Maybe it will end. Maybe it won’t.

There is light though, I promise. We’ll get there.

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Why am I here? (Me in a nutshell)

Without getting into the philosophical (and existential and personal) entanglements this question provokes, I’m here on this blog because I’ve got a narrative to share. I mean, really, everybody has a narrative to share.
Our narratives are our identities, and they’re composed of hundreds of stories. Good stories, bad stories, sad, awful, and beautiful stories. I’m guessing you have stories for each of these categories. So do I.
Here’s a little outline of my life so far – stories that have played a part in my unfolding narrative, and I’m hoping to share more of them with you through this blog.
Pre-July 2001:
Fairly “normal” childhood, one that I look back at with fond memories.
July 11, 2001:
AVM brain injury. Paralysis on the left side of my body and double-vision in my eyes. Lucky to be alive.
2001-2008:
A world of hurt. Thankful for my family and to be alive, mixed with being completely lost, abandoned by friends, struggling to know who I am. Anybody else feel like high school is just the worst?
2008-2012:
The fun college years. Experiencing acceptance and love from friends for the first time. Still unsure of my identity, insecure from the AVM.
2012:
In the hospital for multiple pulmonary emboli (PE), pneumonia, mono. Complicated procedures and treatment because of the AVM. Finding out I also have a blood-clotting disorder (Factor IV Leiden). Lucky to be alive. Again.
2012:
A pretty good year. Grad school.
Early 2014:
Family tragedy. Sorrow and the deepest grief I have ever felt. Deeper than the sadness I experienced having no friends for eight years or even suffering the brain injury.
2014:
Self-discovery, self-forgiveness. Understanding my brain injury as part of who and how I am, but  not what I am. Trying to remember that every day.
​2014:
A lot’s happened to me for my tender twenty-something age, but I’d like to think the positive has outweighed the negative.
More to come – thanks for stopping by!