I just got back from the best Thanksgiving ever.
I had my plan, and I stuck with it. Each day, before I did anything else, I got up and went for my brisk walk. Then I went back to my parents’ house, had a drink of water or juice, and closed myself off in an extra bedroom to stretch and lift my weights (which I brought with me). I had my breakfast in the usual fashion, and I took my time.
Whenever I got overloaded (which happened a few times), I stepped away and took a nap. I had help, too. My spouse was there to help “cover” for me, when my family was wanting to talk and visit and spend time. And people didn’t seem to be pushing as much as they were in other years.
I managed to get through the holiday without melting down or insulting people or saying things that I hadn’t thought through. I was careful and deliberate, and I was very, very present with just about everyone I talked with.
I think people really saw a difference, too. By the end of the weekend, my mom was asking me about what exercises I do, and she had that look in her eye that said she was going to try them.
I also (finally) talked to my folks about the TBIs, and how they had played a role in the problems I had as a kid. I’ve been wanting to do this for some time, now, because my folks aren’t getting any younger, and I didn’t want them to spend their final years burdened by the same regret and remorse that they’ve carried around with them for as long as I can remember. My parents have spent a lot of time apologizing to me for being bad parents, and I never knew what to say.
This Thanksgiving, I figured out what to say: “All the problems I had weren’t your fault. They were neurological, and they were because I got hit on the head a lot. It’s nobody’s fault, and all those people who gave you a hard time for being bad parents were wrong about you. And they were wrong about me.”
It really choked them up. My mom got scared, and my dad had to step out of the room to compose himself. My parents love me a lot, and they could never understand why I didn’t respond to them the same way my other siblings did. Now they have a very important piece of the puzzle, and maybe now we can start healing some of the old hurts that never made any sense, but hurt, all the same.
Yes, my strategy did work — If I take care of my body, my mind can take care of my brain.
I was very careful about what I ate (tho’ I did overdo it on Thanksgiving Day — but who doesn’t? At least it was real — not junk — food!), I paced myself well. I took my time, and I did not rush the things I often rushed (like packing the car and moving around). I was very mindful of my surroundings, and I took time to breathe deeply and relax.
Now I’ve got a lot of body aches and pains — too little sleep and too much long driving and too many unfamiliar activities — but while I was with my family, I was in a good space, and I was in good form.
And for that, I am truly thankful.