Back in the game

Source: stephenhanafin

Okay, I’m back. It’s been a pretty rocky ride, the past several months, with the new job and my spouse going through a lot of personal stuff. Money has been a problem (it still is), and we’re living closer to the edge than we’d like. But I finally feel like I’m starting to settle in.

The business trip I was on, during the early part of this week was a positive and productive experience for me. Truly. We had a company meeting at a great hotel in a nearby city, and despite my reservations, I feel like I did extremely well.

Before going, I was really nervous about not being able to hold my own. There were people there from all over the country, whom I’d heard about, but had never met. There were people there from overseas, as well, and I was concerned about making a poor impression by not knowing the proper manners. I was especially worried about “going off the reservation” and running my mouth and saying stupid things, the way I tend to, when I’m tired and stressed and feeling on the spot.

But I only had a few instances of poor impulse control in conversations. And when I realized I was doing it, I managed to catch myself, stop myself before I went on, and really focused on paying close attention to what others were saying.

There were a couple of times where I was standing off by myself, feeling like an outsider, while everyone else who knew each other were gathered around, talking about familiar things. But fortunately, there were a number of people there who were also new, so I wasn’t the only one. And I also found people approaching me to talk about common projects at work, which was a relief.

All in all, I handled myself extremely well. I didn’t stay stuck in the insecurities that came up, but managed to shift my attention to other things — or just got moving, going for a walk or going to the fitness center, even taking a dip in the pool. I did reasonably well with the food – drank a little more coffee than I should have, and also ate more carbs than I should have. But I can always bump up my exercise to make up for it (which I did this morning).

This is good. I did really well. And what’s coming out of it is a ton of great working relationships with colleagues across the country and also overseas. This is important — so very, very important for me. I had truly believed that I was never going to be able to participate at this level. Truly.

I’m realizing now that with each TBI I’ve sustained over the years, I’ve adjusted down my expectations of what I could do, and what I was capable of doing. The auto accident in 1987, which left me unable to understand the heavy accents of some people for some time, and plunged me into a heavy round of excessive drinking, got me thinking that I have trouble with accents — which is not the case anymore. But there’s a part of me that thinks this is still true.

The accident I had in 1996 which took away my ability to read with understanding for a number of days, got me thinking that I have trouble reading and I will always have trouble reading. It’s true — when I am tired and stressed, my reading comprehension goes way down, and there are many times when I don’t realize till later that what I “read” isn’t what was on the page. But that’s not always the case, and I’m getting better.

The fall in 2004, which turned me into a raging maniac with no patience and a tendency to strike out at things (not people) around me and an almost insane drive to fake my way through everything, had me convinced that in order to succeed in life, I need to adjust down my expectations and not extend myself too much, because if I push myself too hard, bad things happen. I lose jobs. I become almost impossible to live with. I lose money. Bad things happen. And I’m not fit for human interaction.

But after the past few days, I can see clear evidence that this is just not true. When I take care of myself and I pay attention to what’s going on, and I don’t overextend myself to the point of exhaustion… and I carry myself with confidence and reach out to other people, Good Things Happen.

Which is quite exciting.

In a big way, I feel like I’m hitting a reset button in my life. My spouse is, too. They’re addressing some really long-standing issues from childhood which have been holding them back in a very big way. It’s like, we’ve both been going through a truckload of crap, that we can only go through on our own… all the while sharing space in a common house with a (somewhat) common schedule.

The good thing about this is that we can both cut each other some slack. We both “get” that we’re going through some heavy stuff, so we need to go easy at times. It doesn’t always work, and both of us tend to get wrapped up in our crap and forget about being generous and giving a damn about what goes on outside our heads. But things are working themselves out. I’m having the experiences I need to have, and they’re getting the help they need.

All in all, it’s good. And for the first time in a long time — perhaps ever — I can honestly say I feel like I’m truly getting back in the game.

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Author: brokenbrilliant

I am a long-term multiple (mild) Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI or TBI) survivor who experienced assaults, falls, car accidents, sports-related injuries in the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and '90s. My last mild TBI was in 2004, but it was definitely the worst of the lot. I never received medical treatment for my injuries, some of which were sports injuries (and you have to get back in the game!), but I have been living very successfully with cognitive/behavioral (social, emotional, functional) symptoms and complications since I was a young kid. I’ve done it so well, in fact, that virtually nobody knows that I sustained those injuries… and the folks who do know, haven’t fully realized just how it’s impacted my life. It has impacted my life, however. In serious and debilitating ways. I’m coming out from behind the shields I’ve put up, in hopes of successfully addressing my own (invisible) challenges and helping others to see that sustaining a TBI is not the end of the world, and they can, in fact, live happy, fulfilled, productive lives in spite of it all.

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