I realized something the other night at a support group meeting. I’m getting better, I suppose, but it may not exactly be a good thing. I hope the way I felt isn’t closer to the way I was before my accident if I was, in fact, an asshole.
I wrote a little about a night some time ago when I got frustrated with another member of my support group. That time it was a newer brain injury survivor who was really working hard to recover his former abilities. He was actually making some amazing progress out of his defiant attitude towards the naysayers but he was impatient. That led him to try some pretty dangerous things like trying to get up out of his wheelchair or walk without anyone there to act as a safety just in case there was a mishap. I mean, sure, we try to get things back that we’re used to doing and we (at least I know I did) often fail a few times before we succeed. I understand that kind of frustration better now. I did want the guy to succeed but I was upset by the way he was needlessly putting himself in harm’s way to get there.
I also recognize that I have been quite angry at others around who don’t have a brain injury. I’d get embarrassed by their impatience or unhelpful reactions to me having some sort of difficulty in the real world. That happened a lot and I really couldn’t let go of it sometimes. I know I must have promised myself over and over again to never do that sort of stuff to someone else I knew to have a brain injury. Heck, it would be nice to not act that way to anyone at all.
Yeah, well so much for that.
I’ve known the problems this one group member has for a while now and I thought I was doing okay cutting him a break. He tends to get talking about his various life problems no matter what the current topic in the group is at the moment. He’ll just get rolling on something he is having difficulty with and it can go on for quite a long time. Five, even ten minutes and often way off the tracks. I know I used to talk about what was bumming me out all the time. Maybe I went on rants of epic proportions, too, and so you’d think I would remember those times and not treat this guy the way I’d been treated when someone got tired of my chatter. At least I managed not to say anything or interrupt him but I know I was clearly showing my frustration. One of the moderators noticed and cut in on his narrative and gave me a chance to talk. I wonder what a video of me stewing in my seat would have looked like if there was one.
To give more background – one of our members was trying to get organized enough to move to another place with her daughter. The whole process was kind of overwhelming her and so we were talking about how to possibly make it easier for her. But this guy just took over the meeting and time was running out as he was speaking about his problems. I wasn’t thinking I was being heroic or anything when I was trying to intercede – actually I was thinking that I should pay attention to our solving her problem because I’ll probably need to remember some of those suggestions in the near future. I wanted to get back to what the poor lady was saying and I was quietly losing it because of this guy. A Valium -straight, no chaser – would have helped.
Looking back on my journal, there was an appointment with my occupational therapist where I got to talking about how maybe it would be good if I didn’t get back some of the person I used to be. I’d made a note that I had been crying about how I saw myself before my accident. That I was not always such a nice guy. Maybe I’m improving but I don’t think I’m getter better if I’m going to be more like this going forward.
I guess I have some more work to do. Sorting out what to keep and what to throw away. Kind of like moving house and home. Moving your life into this reconditioned version of yourself is pretty damn hard. Sigh.