Coming back to the blog while coming back to myself


As we head towards the end of another year, I too seem to be reaching the end of something. This ending of mine is a difficult thing to define. In that way it is somewhat like the border between childhood and becoming an adult. There isn’t really a line, but you know that at some point back there you’ve crossed it and there is no going back. The only choice is to keep moving forward.

That is the best way I can think to describe what it is to “recover” from something. In my case, I’ve been working these past eight years to recover from a traumatic brain injury I sustained as a result from being in an abusive marriage. Recovery from a brain injury is challenging enough. Pile domestic violence and a PTSD diagnosis on top of that and you might as well ask me to climb Mount Everest. Yet, I’m trying to make it to the proverbial summit. 

Every day has been a struggle. As of this writing, that makes for 2,880 days and counting. Climbing a mountain would be a quicker endeavor if you don’t count the time it would take to train for such a feat. I have learned so many things about this world and about life that I never would have had I not become disabled. These lessons learned are hard and bittersweet – much like the frozen chocolate chips that would be in my backpack if ever I were to climb a snow-capped mountain.

Much like climbing a mountain, nobody succeeds by going it alone. I have been blessed to have the help of some compassionate medical care providers, physical therapists, speech therapists, social workers, and a few friends and supportive family members. I lost a lot of relationships on the way too. To this day I am still estranged from my parents and siblings. My brother has two young children I’ve never met. My sister has a daughter that turned 10 years old last week. I doubt she even knows who I am or that I love her so very much. Still, I sent a small gift via Amazon to her home address. I hope she likes it even if she never knows it’s from me.

The estrangement is admittedly not without cause. With my brain injury, I lost my ability to regulate my emotions for a long time. This made it difficult for others to be around me with my wild mood swings. Managing the ups and downs of day-to-day life is a skill I’ve had to re-learn. With dedication, practice, and more than a little help I am also relearning to care for myself again. Other things I forgot how to do included planning and preparing meals, washing my hair and my body, caring for a household, doing a load of laundry, and even playing musical instruments I had learned in my youth. It’s been a frustrating journey filled with moments of despair as I desperately attempted to reclaim the person I used to be. The despair is part of why I gave up writing for a time. Depression got too deep for me to find the right words to express myself. So for a time, my writing was another thing that was lost. 

But what once was lost, now seems to be found – or at least, I’m finding signs that I’m getting close to recapturing elements of the person I used to be. I’ve come to accept that I may never fully realize the woman I could have become had the brain injury never occurred. Though I do have hope that the person I am becoming is going to be braver, kinder, more compassionate and wise than my former self could ever have hoped to be. 

My cousin Jennifer climbing a mountain in 2017 – she is one of the many people who give me inspiration to continue moving onward and upward.
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  1. Sarah

     /  October 16, 2021

    I’m honored to witness and play a small part of your journey, dear cousin! Love you!

  2. Amanda Mitchell

     /  October 29, 2021

    Over My Head: A Doctor’s Own Story of Head Injury from the Inside Looking Out—Claudia L. Osborn

    “Every head-injured person enters a rehabilitation program hoping to be fully restored. No such program exists.

    Joan told me that there was a ceiling on recovery.  No one could predict where it would be, but you could be certain there was one and it would stop you from gaining back all you had lost. This ceiling idea is important. It’s disheartening to chase rainbows. We understood that before our heads were injured; we should keep it in mind now…

    …At the same time, it is important that this ceiling idea not limit your dreams. It is healthy and reasonable for me to seek lofty goals as long as they’re rooted in reality. It is only in aspiring to the improbable that one can achieve as much as possible. I do not—and neither do my counselors—know how far I can stretch…

    …If I were asked, I would counsel someone with a devastating injury not to focus on their loss and what might have been, but to fully live the life they have now and to carve out new and achievable dreams to fit it.”

  3. Cruz Santiago

     /  November 1, 2021

    That’s awesome


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