Picking up the pieces – and loving it

Sometimes it all comes apart – so we have to put it back together again

I’m having a pretty excellent time off. It’s absolutely luxurious, to have “off” from Christmas till the Monday after New Year’s. I don’t have to go anywhere, I have no external obligations, and I can just be at home, living life the way I want to, not having to answer to anyone except my best judgment.

Not that I’ve been idle. I’ve had time to take care of a lot of things that have been languishing in the background for some time. I’ve had the chance to really think things through more deeply than ever, and get my priorities in order. I realize that I’ve spent a whole lot of time churning and being busy for its own sake, rather than being strategic and focusing my efforts on the things that would really produce something useful.

Case in point: Research projects.

I have had a number of research projects in the works over the years, and I’ve always approached them as “one-off” endeavors. I would research something, write something up about it, and then move on to the next thing. Sometimes it was a completely different field  — like the time I researched and wrote up something about the mythology of OId England, then started researching archaeological digs of the Russian steppes and wrote something up about that. I researched language and thought… then moved on to quantum mechanics… then transferred my attention to personal training and physiology.

I’ve written different things along the way, and while some of them had some good in them, none of them is anything I’d really want to put out there. The thought processes are disjointed and disconnected, and none of it is rigorous enough to be taken seriously.

All these projects were geared towards different audiences — sometimes at the other end of the spectrum. And none of them were really deep enough to deserve anyone’s attention.

I’ve been flitting from one interest to another for a long, long time, building on my knowledge in new and interesting ways, but never treating anything like it had real substance.

And small wonder. Because all those years, I was dealing with a number of issues with attention and memory, that I never knew were there. I had no idea how much fatigue affected me, and I had no idea how crappy my short-term working memory was. I mis-remembered things all the time, and I had no idea I was doing so. Even when I wrote it down and looked at it later, I didn’t realize just how off-base I was.

Having that neuropsychological assessment to give me feedback and measurements of what my real skills were, was life-changing. It transformed everything, and I’ve been piecing back together my hopes and dreams, once shred at a time. Seriously, I had all but given up hope, years ago. But there was still something in me that pushed me forward, that urged me to keep going, to keep trying, to keep on with everything. I just couldn’t quit. Just couldn’t.

I had to keep trying. Keep looking. Keep searching. Till I found the missing pieces I needed.

Now I have those missing pieces — the most important being the knowledge that I’ve sustained a number of TBIs over the course of my life, and they can and do have an impact on my thought process and how well (or poorly) my body works. When I’m having trouble with my temper because of fatigue, or I’m anxious because of light and sound sensitivity and being in pain, or I am having trouble understanding what people are saying to me, I am much more keenly aware of the reasons for all the blocks and hurdles that crop up — which means I’m much better able to deal with them.

And I do deal with them. In ways I never could before.

After all, you can’t fix things if you don’t know they’re broken. And there was a lot of broken stuff about me that needed fixing.

That broken-ness was more about process and systems, than it was about me and my essential self. It was about how I did things, not who I was. And fixing the broken stuff has made all the difference in the world.

Some people say that finding out what’s wrong, can be defeating and debilitating. I find it very freeing. Because it gives me something to work towards. I am always confident that I can find a way, one way or another. Why not? Plenty of other people do, and they’re not that much smarter than I am.

So, bit by bit, I am pulling things together, and it feels great. Spending more time thinking and strategizing, and less time on busy-work, is just the ticket for me. It’s a great way to finish up the year and start fresh with the new one.

Onward.

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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.

2 thoughts on “Picking up the pieces – and loving it”

  1. I have had a couple of weeks off myself. Its nice to pause and consider where you have been and where you are going. I admire that you spend your time doing things that are worth while- most waste it away- Best wishes on your current and future research.

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