Actually, I’m not that way at all

Thinking, as I have been, about TBI and sense of self, I have realized something pretty important lately — namely, that I’ve formed a somewhat faulty perception of myself over the years. My sense of self has definitely suffered, and without correcting it, I’ve had my self-image re-shaped in ways that are not only harder on me than need be, but also incorrect.

For example: I tend to think I’m stupid. I’m not. I’m just not as brilliant as I’d like to be — but the thing is, I set my standards so high, noboby could meet them.

Another example: For the past six years, as I’ve had more and more money problems, I’ve had it in my head that I didn’t know how to manage money or make arrangements with insurance. I had it in my head that if I’d just had disability insurance when I fell, I could have possibly gotten help, and if I’d been smarter, I wouldn’t have parted with so much (as in, almost all) of my savings.

But the thing is, I did have insurance when I fell — short-term disability and long-term disability. I was also in a job that gave me 4 weeks paid vacation. I could have taken sick time, and I could have gotten help, had I understood what was going on with me. And as for my money  management… the fact of the matter is, I did have my act together before I fell. I had made smart choices about my mortgage, I had made smart choices about my use of debt. I had not gone overboard with refinancing my house to pay off other debts, and I had lived quite frugally for many years. Never, ever have I been extravagant. I’ve always had a very simple, modest lifestyle. It wasn’t me that screwed things up. It was the TBI’s.

Looking back now, I can see that I was just so turned around and messed up by the fall, that even if someone had offered me help, I would have pushed them away. I didn’t understand what was going on, I didn’t think I needed help, and I was slipping farther and farther into a hole that my brain told me I should be happy to slide into. Totally messed up. And very different from how I’d been prior to my fall.

It wasn’t ME that caused my life to go off the rails, it was my head injury. And all those concussions I’d had prior to that.

But I can turn things around now. I am… and I’ll continue to do so.

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.

4 thoughts on “Actually, I’m not that way at all”

  1. It is good that you are able to realize where you are gifted. Now that I have a new computer with a decent browser, I signed up for facebook. I orignally tested into vocational classes but as I worked hard and got great grades, I became College Prep. I even received awards in some of my classes. I don’t know if this is accurate, but I decided when I took a course in Psychology of Language that I don’t store as much in my working memory at one time as others. It said that people who do that need to make conclusions as they read more part way if recall and that seemed to connect with my experiences and I think something else. And yet, if I studied long enough, I could memorize a lot of things by route. I also could memorize discussions word for word pretty much. The catch is that I would probably not remember later. In addition, I have kind if an uncanny ability on multiple choice tests if it is a class I have studied a little for and all.

    But I have dreams where I don’t do well on the classes where I got A’s before. And my memorization is probably not what it was nor is my test taking ability probably what it was. Does that mean I am less smart? Was I smart in the first place based on that given the fact that it did measure learning so well or long term learning? All the same, I am now in contact with some people who may have had the illusion I was smart and I don’t want to crack that illusion. But on the other hand, I would love people to like me for exactly who I am and not for what I am not.

    When a person has a good writing style and insights as well as interesting information, I like to follow their blogs. If a person were not articulate, I would probably not be so interested. Does that make a person smart? I like to think everyone is smart but that certainly is a good indicator in my book.

    Yes, I think way too much about this. I know I probably come across as odd as I say what pops into my head.


  2. While I am at, here is a poem I wrote a few years back.

    I have often wondered if I am stupid or I am smart
    when I should be more concerned about the condition
    of my heart for I will not be judged by what I inherently lack
    but with what I have been given, I need to constantly be giving back.


  3. I didn’t mean to imply that I don’t think I am smart. In some ways, I think I am very smart. I just think that people from my school days might have expectations of me that may not necessarily fit my ability in some areas. I am grateful that I could memorize so well. That helped me do well in Spanish class although I did not take enough to be fluent nor do I know if I would reach that level without immersion or even then. On the other hand, I have a friend who is not good at memorization and did poorly in foreign language. She was good at logic and did very good at computer languages. I think it is amazing how we differ.


  4. bkb –

    Sound to me like you’re smart. I think we all have our gifts and talents, and one of the big challenges is learning to see that, instead of getting stuck in thinking that because we’re not one way of being smart, it means we’re not smart at all, which isn’t true.



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