You might be wondering just what I’m talking about with such a vague title. Heck, I know I was when I came up with it. Anyway, I’ll get to that towards the end of this post but it has something to do with what you see in that photo.
This is a pic from Health Me Up. It’s one of the warrior poses, a basic balance pose, and it seems to be in every class I’ve taken so far. There must be a town ordinance or something.
I was at a brain injury support group meeting last night and I got a chance to meet me, Peter Wick, only it was the 2 months after my crash me. I’ll call him “Two Months Post Guy.” Let’s just say that there’s a reason this blog starts about 5 months after my crash. The current topic we were talking about was disappointment at how brain injury survivors are treated by their loved ones. A new member of the group, 2 months post injury, was telling us about how uncomfortable he feels being forced to live in his father’s house and it is making him feel like the kid he was again. Of course, it is rarely a good thing even in the best of times but while you’re trying to put your life back together in front of a parent that was kinda rough on you 40+ years ago? Yikes. I definitely felt for him on that account but…
I couldn’t stand the guy. I mean I was really fed up with what he kept saying over and over again. I guess we tend to loathe the things we hate in ourselves and seeing them in someone else makes them a target. He practically took over the meeting talking about himself. That wasn’t the problem though. It was how he was boasting about how determined he was to prove them wrong about all the things they told him regarding his injury. All these things he’s been doing that they said he couldn’t do – and I applaud that.
Actually I would have applauded that if he wasn’t also talking about the 4 times he’d fallen and hurt himself trying to do these things. – behind the backs of his therapists, his father and relatives. He turned away 3 people trying to talk a little sense into him, going back to reminding them about how tough he was. “I’m a baseball and football player and God is not going to let me just sit around with my cane and do nothing…. Blah blah blah.”
I was waiting for a chance to get back onto the topic of how and why we get treated in some ways but he just would not stop repeating his protests. So I just broke in and spoke to him in quite harsh tones. Like the jerk I apparently can still be. I told him that I thought his progress was great. Heroic even but that he was being incredibly stupid. Yes, he’s accomplishing these things after trying several times and he’s been okay. Except when he wasn’t. One of those times he smashed up his nose and dislodged some front teeth. I just got a head of steam up and didn’t stop for a minute or two. He then made the mistake of implying I wouldn’t understand because I wasn’t an athlete like he was. Just so you know, my inner 5-year old doesn’t really have a TBI because he came back with a brief review of my triathlon racing. “Don’t tell ME about how tough you are and I’m not!” I just lost it. At least I didn’t say my dad could beat up his dad. So there’s that.
That’s how I thought people were talking to me when I was trying to do all my stupid things fresh out of the rehab Center. Only he didn’t have to think it. I was being a bonafide asshole and I have to say I’m ashamed of it. What I really just wanted to tell him was to do that crazy stuff, that dangerous stuff he tells us he has re-injured himself attempting, in a safer environment. I didn’t get anywhere near that message. I was just as obnoxious as all those people he was complaining about. There is a different post on that topic I want to write but this one just has to come first.
I didn’t understand in those first few months that I was not going to be able to do all the things I used to be able to do without even thinking twice about them. Yes, I took that very hard and all I was ever hearing was “You can’t do that…” “You’re doing that wrong…” “You won’t be able to…” and so on. They had their stalkers, too, like anymore and ever again.That narrative played quite well into my tendency to beat myself up and I did it a lot.
I then went to a yoga class. A few different people had urged me to try it because they said it would help me find my center. Help me focus and calm down, etc. It actually has and I recommend it. Just go slow and do the gentle classes first unless you were already an advanced yogi before your injury. Anyway, yoga has and continues to Kick. My. Ass. I still get frustrated a lot and many of those balance & strength poses terrify me with the risk of falling but I’m improving. For example, I no longer need to be off to the side and really close to a wall – those were actually so I wouldn’t endanger another class participant when I would fall out of a pose. I wasn’t always smart enough to just go to child pose and take a breather. I’d try to do those balance poses and things would be okay until all of a sudden they weren’t.
But as tough and demoralizing as I find yoga, it was there that one instructor said “If that pose isn’t available to you, try doing this to modify it. Let your body tell you what it is finding.”
It isn’t available to you
What a concept!! A real revelation. I could actually hear that and not tense up and feel judged or reprimanded because I wasn’t doing something right. It was easy to let the words yet or right now fall in behind that phrase. I could even hear it just takes time and his little brother, you’ll get there, outside in the hall talking as they waited their turn to get into my head.
I wish I could have gotten to mentioning that concept when I was talking to “Two Months Post Guy” last night.
Gotta tell ya, the “I was waiting for a chance” paragraph is the single finest piece of personal sharing I have read so far this year, and maybe even last year.
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Thanks, Drew. That concept ties into the self-compassion you spoke to me about last year.
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