One of the side effects of a severe traumatic brain injury is unfiltered anger. I have lost my ability to filter through thoughts or emotions before I act. I can lash out impulsively when angry. The positive spin on this though is a severe traumatic brain injury also enhances some of your character traits you had before. Luckily for me one of the traits that was enhanced for me, was my composure and the fact that I am an emotionless robot sometimes. Don’t get me wrong I feel much more than I show; you will just never see what I’m feeling expressed on my face. I’m empathic and sensitive but I just don’t know how to fully express my emotions, unless it’s anger. I still have my blow ups and impulsive actions. You can just ask my speech therapist about that. She could tell you some very colorful stories. But the majority of the anger I deal with, as of today, is anger towards myself. You see I haven’t fully learned yet or accepted forgiveness for myself. It’s hard to forgive yourself for giving someone your heart and putting your life in their hands and then they take advantage of it. They take advantage of your love for them and your kindness. It’s also hard to forgive yourself for believing the lies and for trusting someone so much you allow them to manipulate you and the little memory you had left. They pull your strings as if you were a marionette. And if you don’t respond the way they would like you are met with ferocious anger.
Another side effect of a severe traumatic brain injury is dependence. Since I was completely new to the world and functioning on a very concrete literal level I trusted those around me without question. Unfortunately for some of us, there will be one person who comes into your life, that will be your exception. You will do stuff for them that you said you would never do.. But you do. My person just happened to come into my life claiming to be in love with me since college, he came when my defenses were down and I barely knew how to put on clothes or what my name was. Perfect timing… For him.
On my journey of rediscovering myself I have learned I have the right to be angry. It’s not negative or wrong. I don’t have to condone someone’s actions or pretend that I am ok with them to be a good person. I now know I have the power to move beyond my pain. I have the power to learn the lessons from my heartache and gains from my losses. I have the power to forgive. It will take time but I now know I hold the power to move on and heal. Forgiveness for me is quite tricky. I am a forgiver and I see the good in everyone, so I find it easy to forgive others. But forgiving myself is a completely different story.
I have always been a harsh critic of myself. I guess you could say I am somewhat of a perfectionist, but after being taken advantage of I have a very hard time in forgiving myself. I now see myself as unworthy and undeserving. I am so angry with myself for eating the lies that were fed to me every day for 4 years. I am angry at myself for being such an asshole and not believing those who actually did love me. During my time of trying to process what was actually real and what was fake, I became self destructive. I had directed all my anger on myself. But by the grace of God, one day I decided to pick up a book and read, that book was “You will get through this” by Max Lucado. I then started my journey of rediscovering life and myself through a brand new pair of eyes, that weren’t tainted with lies or covered in rose petal glasses anymore.
I call this part of my recovery my final awakening. I learned that I must forgive myself first before I can ever move forward. So I started the process of forgiving myself. I released all the negativity I had in my life and started to fill myself with the Holy Spirit and positive affirmations. I broke out of the bondage that was holding me hostage in my past. I reevaluated my mistakes and the choices I had made. I stopped the mindless act of going over and over all the should haves, could haves or would’ve been. I have released all of the toxic matter that was left inside me.. And I am moving on. Moving on to a much brighter future than I could have ever imagined for myself.
Maya Angelou once said “When you know better you do better.” Although this is very true, even after knowing all that follows that horrific day of June 11, 2012, I would still choose to drive through that intersection. I would gladly take on all the mental, emotional and physical pain all over again because I am VERY proud of the woman I am starting to become. The lessons I have learned along the way have given me more wisdom on life and allowed me to get to know myself on a much deeper level. I have been shown what I need to improve on and I will gladly accept the challenge and continue to work on myself. Sometimes it takes walking through the valleys of hell for you to appreciate what God has waiting for you. And sometimes you get the best light from a burning bridge.