In my traumatic brain injury support group we are told that the first step we have to make to move forward is to grieve our “old” selves. We have to grieve for what we have lost. It’s funny because I thought I had grieved for my “old” self but then I write about some of my experiences, try to help others by telling my story or I get triggered by something and I realize I don’t think I have really grieved at all. I am a strong person and unfortunately a pretty emotionless person, not to say I don’t feel because I feel probably more than most. I’m extremely empathic but I just don’t show my emotions. I also have a hard time allowing myself to cry during my time of recovery. I feel I have to always hold it together and stay strong. I fear that if I allow myself to grieve or feel my emotions I will completely fall apart and not be able to carry on.
After some of the events that have transpired over the past few years, I’m now even more timid about showing emotion or being vulnerable. I guess you could say this is my Achilles heal. It has worked in my favor to allow me to keep moving forward and to keep my eye on the prize of recovery but it has also held me back. I have a lot of pent up emotion. I have always known this but it wasn’t until I started writing and talking to others about my experiences that I understood how much I have pent up.
The reality is I will grieve forever the loss of my “old” self and memories. It’s not easy to get over the death of your past life and to get over how everything was taken from you by someone’s neglectful actions. But I have learned to heal and rebuild myself around my loss. I had to. There’s been no other choice. Well I guess there is one more option but that is an option I refuse to see. I will not be defeated. I refuse to give up and stay in the pits of misery. So I have healed around my loss. I know I will eventually be whole again, I can slowly feel myself getting there. I can feel the heartache that I have carried deep in my bones dissipate. I know I will never be the same but I don’t want to be. I have learned so many valuable lessons during this chapter of my life that I would never go back to the old me if I was given the option. I have grown so much as a person and I am slowly being molded into the woman He needs me to be to fulfill my purpose for this life. For this I am extremely proud of myself.
When I try to think back on my former life it is sad for me to think of the thousands of moments I simply took for granted. Why wouldn’t I have taken these moments for granted? How was I to know that shortly after graduating college and being accepted into graduate school my world would crumble beneath my feet. I just assumed there was going to be a thousand more moments just like the ones before if not better because I was about to begin a new chapter of my life. Little did I know that new chapter would start off with agonizing pain and confusion.
Learning to live not just survive:
Sometimes just surviving is the worst kind of pain. It’s the worst pain because you aren’t living, you are going through the motions with your head down just trying to win the fight so you can see tomorrow.. And start the fight all over again. I have been disconnected from myself for so long that now, as I am going through what I believe is my final awakening, I am starting to experience feelings and emotions on a new level. This has been an uncomfortable experience for me because I am sad, hurt, angry, joyful, happy and so many more emotions all at the same time. I know I am going to have to experience every memory and emotion that I have repressed over the past four years to be able to fully move forward. Honestly this terrifies me because I have a general idea on some of the things I have repressed but I know there are things deep within me that I am unaware of. These are the memories and emotions that scary me. But I am committed to healing myself and if I ever want to be whole again, this is what I have to do.
Grief and anger are like the ocean for me. They both come in waves. Sometimes the water is calm and I just get sad when the wave crashes. But then there are the times that the wave is overwhelming, it crashes into me and it triggers my rage. Sometimes I just need to be angry for a bit, so I can fully experience that wave and I can move on. My life has become all about learning to swim through calm waters and rough tides. In any given moment you can be given two options, to step forward into growth or to step back into safety. Stepping forward for me was scary because I was going into the unknown. I am fearful now of change and not having control or knowing what is going to happen next because of my PTSD. The unknown is a big trigger for my PTSD but I refused to stay back in my safety zone and live a mediocre life. It is okay to be like me and be scared because being scared means you are about to do something brave, really brave. We all can either get bitter or get better through our struggles. You can either take the cards you have been dealt, play them right and allow them to make you into a better person, or you can get upset because you weren’t given a royal flush and allow it to tear you down. Your choice doesn’t belong to fate, it belongs to you.