Saturday, July 28, 2012


After my accident, my brain changed. And consequently, my mind along with it. At the time, I was too stubborn and determined to slow down to notice any of it. I had to get back to work the next day so I could get paid, make sure all of my accounts were taken care of, and make sure that no one else at my company was inconvenienced. I also had a final to study for. And like all the finals before it, I was going to get an 'A.' No questions asked.

I was still drinking after work almost every night to wind down from the stress and the emotional taxation, so I didn't notice my inability to stay asleep for more than a few hours at a time. I also didn't notice my brain's inability to calm itself down and drift off into sleep without some sort of sedative as an aid. I didn't notice that I would wake up feeling unrested, as if I hadn't slept at all. I didn't notice the apathy, or the carelessness around my house, or the simple inability to wake up and find something joyful about the life around me. I noticed the dizziness, but I thought it was just because I was tired or exhausted. It was just my job and it would go away once the cause went away too. I don't remember if I noticed the nausea, but because it wasn't as bad as it was during the first week after the accident, I probably shrugged that off as exhaustion, too.

I didn't want to believe that there were going to be any consequences from a contusion, a concussion, a hematoma, and a scalp laceration. I'd stuffed down and ignored "the bad" and "pain" all my life; why should this accident and its aftermath be any different? Well, after I'd gotten all my 'A's' and quit the 'exhausting' job, I finally had to admit that something was different. I was different. And I was going to have to make peace with that and find different ways of doing what I had done for most of my life. And I was going to have to let go of some things, no matter how painful or how much of a struggle it would turn out to be.

When I started this blog, I wanted to give a voice to HSPs. But I am more than an HSP. I am also a traumatic brain injury survivor and so today I choose to bring a voice to that experience. I am not complaining. I know I am one of the 'lucky' ones. I am not in a coma, I am not in a hospital bed, I do not have to go through physical therapy sessions, I can still talk, and for the most part I can still think. Even if that 'thinking' is a little slower, a little more haphazard, and more frustrating when I can't quite be as 'sharp' as I used to be. But even the 'lucky' ones know the aftermath is still a struggle. You have to work slower, especially when it involves thinking, writing, or studying. You have to take many more breaks and sometimes you can only concentrate for a few minutes at a time.

Some things you can't control anymore. Like naps. You may have the intention of closing your eyes for only a few minutes, and then wake up 3 to 5 hours later wondering what happened. You want to find happiness and for a few moments you do. But then it's back to the irritation and the apathy, and the 'I just want to sleep and zone out.' Those 3-5 mile runs you used to go on? Maybe tomorrow you'll start. Maybe tomorrow you'll try walking instead. And sometimes you do. For weeks, even. But then you stop. You have to take a break. It's too much. The effort is too much. The effort of living is too much.

Not living, breathing, taking life in. No, it's the demands of living. The demands of 'our culture.' I finished a book this week about learning how to live and what's really important about living. It is only when we learn about 'dying' that we learn about 'living' is the gist of the lesson.

There are all kinds of death. There's physical, of course. And emotional; spiritual. But there's also the death of our self-concept. What we must do; what we must be; who we think we are by definitions and labels. It's all a bunch of nonsense. Silly, really. The truth is, we are everything. We will be everything. If not now, if not in this life, then soon. Pretty; ugly. Young; old. Ambitious; content. Self-serving; self-sacrificing. The list goes on.

Rebirth happens because we die. Is it something to fear? Is it something to avoid? Many of us try. Some of us eventually realize that love is what brings us back. It is what keeps us from staying away. It is why we come back.

And many of us soon find out that we're going to have to tell ourselves "I was who I was, but now I am simply something undefinable. I am simply life."

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Values Behind Choices

Everyday we are faced with choices. It's part of the gift that we're given when we come here. By "here," I mean the human experience. I love the gift, even though it brings heartache, deliberation, triumphs, and crises. What I love even more is that you almost always have the opportunity to "re-choose" as long as you keep living.

But why do we make certain choices? And why do people faced with the same set of "circumstances" and/or "facts" make different ones? I think it comes down to values--what each of us deems as more important or more true to who we are. Although I do believe that there are some external things in life that we do not choose (e.g. child abuse, rape, child poverty), at many points in our lives we have the ability to make both internal and external choices.

When faced with an environment, a situation, a job, or a relationship that begins to violate one of your values, you must make a choice. You must decide what is more important. I believe that one of the signs that change needs to occur is unhappiness or conflict. Sometimes that means you change your internal perspective. I think that is a good place to start--the best place to start. But when that doesn't work or it involves violating your truth, it's time to remove yourself from the environment.

So, some of you may wonder or have a hard time understanding why I might remove myself from an environment and an experience that I wanted to be a part of? Because several of my values are being violated and I deem other things to be more important. I value passion, originality, the ability to think for oneself, figuring out what I have to say vs. what others want to hear, hard work, a strong work ethic, compassion, inspiration, a down-to-earth perspective and quiet servitude over the pursuit of potential fortune and fame.

This is my truth. These are my values. These are my choices.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Happiness Always

The date is May 25th, 1977. The book is a biography about Clark Gable, a "quintessential Hollywood actor" who perhaps my father admired--like so many things that he admired about the world that brings dreams of the collective human heart to life. I am almost eight months old and this date is my parents' anniversary. My father wishes my mother love, a long life, and happiness always. Of course by giving her a book about Hollywood life for a present he has only wanted to share his love of something he sees as wonderful. So wonderful that he has neglected to realize that she does not care about these things--she is, after all, from California. A place she still speaks of as being "elite, snobbish, vain, self-centered, and about gaining power and recognition at any cost." Their daughter would say that both of them are right, to some degree.

But this book (which is now mine) and his words penned in his own handwriting on the inside flap, is one of the few tangible things I have left of my father. It is one of the few pieces that give me some insight into who he was. And into who his daughter might be. The funny thing is that biology has more influence over some things, I think, than we care to realize. This is a man that did not raise me beyond the age of five, but whose personality and love for that world of "something wonderful" has somehow instilled itself into my veins. At this moment running through the coincidences is too difficult because the realization of what could have been between us is too painful.

Still, what remains in these words from my father is happiness always. The happiness that comes from realizing that I don't really have to wonder who my father was or hold onto the "bad" things that I was told about him. Perhaps they were real. Perhaps he lived in a time when sensitivity wasn't understood at all and perceived incorrectly. Because what I see and feel in these words is human. A little poetic. A little bit of a dreamer. A little bit of me.