Seeing my skills for what they are – and aren’t

moon shining on tree in fieldI’ve been “back and forth” about my job, for the past few months. One week, I love it. The next, I hate it and can’t wait to get away. I supposedly got a sort of “promotion” a few weeks ago — more responsibility and more influence, but no more money. Doesn’t seem to be much of a promotion, right? My boss is making bad decisions and is pushing me to put their ideas into action. It’s pretty much of a train wreck, with all the people at the top fighting over their territory, making their minions represent them.

Ridiculous. I don’t agree with any of it. But somehow I’m supposed to make it happen?

The only benefit: it makes the situation crystal clear — I really need to get the heck out of that situation, brush up my technical skills, put my resume out there, and get ready to move after the new year. I actually have some old projects I’ve been wanting to revive, and now seems like a great time to do it.

I tend to have a pretty low opinion of myself, mainly because I know what else is possible, and I’m very clear about how far I fall short. Plus, always being tired, my self-esteem really suffers. Like today. I’m just not feeling that capable or worthwhile…

Except for something that happened last night.

I was on my way home from a meetup in a nearby city, and as I was rolling through the dark countryside, I saw a bunch of cars stopped ahead of me. I was coming up to a tricky intersection, where a hidden road crosses at the bottom of a long, gradual hill. The tail lights of the cars ahead of me weren’t moving, there seemed to be smoke in the air, and I could see people standing in the road farther up the hill, so I slowed down and pulled over, just to figure out what was going on.

When I took a closer look (I was pretty tired), I saw there was a car sitting in the middle of the road with its wheels splayed and its front-end crushed in. The interior was full of smoke, and the whole thing was shrouded in a gray cloud. I was worried at first about there being a fire and the vehicle blowing up — I’ve seen too many movies, I guess. But I couldn’t just sit there. It didn’t look like anyone was helping, yet.

I walked closer to the wreck – carefully. There was glass everywhere. Pieces of car. Rear view mirrors. Chrome and plastic. Halfway up the hill, I could see another car lying on its roof in the darkness. It wasn’t smoking. It was just sitting there, eerily motionless, as people gathered quietly around it.

The vehicle nearest me at the bottom of the hill was a tangled wreck. Once upon a time, it looked like it had been a pretty sweet Mustang. No more. The airbags were shredded. Drawing closer, I could hear voices. I could hear a woman’s voice and a man’s, so I knew someone was alive. I lifted up the “curtain” of limp airbag that was hanging over the driver side window, and behind it there was a driver with is face smashed in and blood all over him, talking to a woman on the remote assistance intercom — like those Northstar systems that come with cars to help you unlock your doors or call for help. The woman was talking to him like he was coherent, but he was really messed up. He clearly had a head injury, his movements were jerky and automatic — like I’ve been a number of times after getting clocked on the head. She kept asking him questions, and he was responding like he knew what he was talking about. He didn’t. He was in bad shape.

Beside him, there was a passenger whose left leg was bent weirdly. No wonder. The car’s engine had been pushed back practically into his lap. I didn’t get a close look at the other guy — who was talking a bit, too — because I was focused on just talking to the lady. And others had come over to help and were checking him out. I talked to the lady on the intercom, told her what I was seeing, and reported what others were seeing about the other guy.

I also “talked down” the guys in the car, who were trying to get out. The driver kept reaching down beside his seat for something, but I told him to stay putDon’t move. Help was on the way. The interior of the car reeked of alcohol, and one of the other bystanders who was helping said she’d seen drugs beside the seat.

The local first responders were there within minutes. The accident was just a few miles from the local fire station, and when the fire truck pulled up, I told the firemen what I knew. They were on it, and I got out of their way. Then I got back in my car and moved on.

When everyone else stood at a distance, I stepped up.

When everyone else couldn’t communicate and keep things in order, I could.

When a couple of seriously injured people were on the verge of potentially hurting themselves more, I kept them safe and kept things steady.

I’ve been in these kinds of situations a number of times. A co-worked who collapsed and was unresponsive… someone who’d fallen and hit their head… an elderly person who had a bad reaction to a medical trial they were participating in… a person pinned between their car and a fence, when they didn’t put it properly in park… I’ve come across those people who were badly injured or hurt enough that they couldn’t help themselves, and I’ve been there for them, till help came. Several times I’ve run for help, myself.

It’s what I do. It’s one of the things I do best.

And for all the foolishness that’s taking place at work, at least I know this is something I do. Handling reality. Dealing with a true emergencies.

And I need to remember that, as I navigate this scene at work… finding a path out… figuring out what’s next. There are some things I do better than just about anybody else. They’re just not part of my job description, right now.

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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.

5 thoughts on “Seeing my skills for what they are – and aren’t”

  1. I’ve been given a promotion too after my TBI which occurred at work in 2005 in an office of all places due to a coworker horseplaying and accidentally hitting me in the left side of my head with a ball he was intentionally throwing at a coworker standing behind me. That blow with whiplash created a secondary arachnoid cyst on my brain. I agreed to this promotion hesitantly a year later after being promised a certain amount of raise in pay. I was already feeling ill equipped to take it on due to my brain injury symptoms. The cyst was significantly compressing my brain and the front left temporal lobe. So after I accepted the position I was then told I would only get half the amount of pay raise I had agreed to by the manager above and in six months I’d start getting the rest. In six months I was let go after even helping to write the full time employee transition plan for nine of us consultants. Seven were hired as FTE. I was not and was told outside the office by an executive that that major financial company let me go stating I was too much of a risk for then to hire since I was injured there while working for them as a client company. She told me that she would deny she said it if I would try to confront anyone about it. That’s what started my nightmare 12 years ago.
    Have you ever had to go without income due to your ability to be “high functioning” and yet physically cannot handle working anymore? That’s what I have been dealing with for over three years now. Six brain injuries that have cumulated into what I’m dealing with today. Two TBIs, three whiplash concussions and a hemorrhage causing encephalomacia during the second brain surgery trying to eliminate the cyst. They didn’t work as it regrew both times within months. And trigeminal neuralgia as that same surgeon cut through my trigeminal nerve and jaw muscle. My car has been rear ended twice within two years. I fell on the ice leaving work in between those two accidents. That fall took me off working. Then a fall last Feb 2016 as I thought I could do something myself and ended up face planting into a box of wood furniture on our cement porch. I’ve had neck injuries, back injuries, pelvic joint injuries, knee injuries, and ankle injuries. My endocrine system has been messed up too. And yet I have no SSDI, work comp or even disability insurance income that I had in full force when I had that fall on the ice due to corruption and collusion in the medical, legal and govt arenas. And I live in Iowa of all places.
    As a single mom looking after elderly parents this is insane to have to deal with.
    Do you have any advice on how to deal with all this? I’ve had HBOT treatments too and yes they’ve helped quite a bit. I even had reflexes return on my left side that hadn’t been working after injuries. After five of the injuries with three occurring within three years I was down to an IQ of 117.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Also I had the same thoughts as you regarding my capabilities after brain injuries. I would receive praise for my work but I just would shrug it off as I couldn’t accept it. I knew my abilities prior to the injuries and I felt nowhere close to functioning as I had been able to do. If only they knew what I could do before was my thought process. Even the man who hit me on the head with that ball told me I was doing the work of five people and it came easily for me to do so before that injury. After that injury I had a very difficult time just doing one person’s job.
    My manager when I fell on the ice offered me his lead position as a consultant a year later as he was taking a FT position as a VP. I couldn’t. I was having so much fatigue. I would have to go sleep after vacuuming one room at home. I had insomnia for a year and a half after that fall until I had HBOT treatments. I couldn’t do the cognitive work I had before as an information technology consultant. I still cannot. I can do more now than after that fall but not as much as before that fall due to the debilitating fatigue which cascades into other neurological symptoms. And stress is just adding to it. It’s just too much to handle.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This all sounds extremely challenging – I’m sorry you’ve had to go through it.

    Doing IT consulting has always appealed to me, but because of the intense nature of the work, I could never follow up on it. I do better when I am in a structured environment. In your case, is there anything you can leverage in terms of publishing? Can you shift to writing? Technical writing might be a possible fit for you, because the work itself can be “intermittent” — you’re not always doing the same thing all the time — and there’s a cycle to it. Plus, you may be able to do it remotely, so your location may not hold you back.

    With me, the main thing has always been to just make money, however I could. I’ve done plenty of “low-level” jobs because I needed a quick and easy way to pay the bills — regardless of whether or not I have a college degree (I don’t).

    For years, I just did temporary gigs because I never knew, from one day to the next, how I was going to feel. My family looked down on me, but I was paying the bills, and that’s what mattered. Plus, I had leeway to rest when I needed to.

    Tech writing might actually be something you can move into — plus, if you work contracts, you’re not locked in forever. You might be able to take some time between. It’s a heckuva lot better than having no income at all.

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