More space needed

Onward... Upward... Outward...

I’m working from home today, and I’ve noticed something interesting – I need more space.

The office I have at home, as nice as it is, is feeling small.

The places around the house where I usually work are also feeling small.

Even the areas that I have marked out as mine (which is a rare and deeply appreciated luxury) feel cramped.

I need more space.

It’s not that I’m greedy – if anything, I like to do with less. I have always felt that the less I need, the stronger and more secure I am. But with the days getting longer and the weather getting nicer, I’m feeling this strong push to move out, to get out, to expand and extend and try new things.

Move into new and different spaces.

Do something a little different.

And spread out a whole lot more than I have ever allowed myself to do.

See, here’s the thing…

Ever since I realized that the pattern I have of not being able to stick it out with jobs was NOT about me being deficient or slacking… ever since I “got it” that the things driving my interests and intentions have been intricately connected with how my brain works, and how my body works, too… ever since I realized that I don’t HAVE to repeat all my old patterns of never being able to stay at one job for longer than a year or two, and that I don’t have to get all worked up and tweaked and bent out of shape over work-related things, as well as people-related things… Well, something has changed.

Something has loosened up.

Something has expanded.

And I don’t want to spend all my time cooped up inside a building, in an office, in one place and one place only, day in and day out. I need to move. I need to expand. And I need to do this with the work I am doing and the life I am living — not ditch the situation I’m in now, and move on to what’s next.

It’s ironic, really — the stronger my comfort level with where I am, the more I want to really dive in and expand and evolve what I’ve got. I want to add more dimensions to my work. I want to develop a deeper understanding of the people I work with and a strong connection with my work itself. I have so much going on, day in and day out. What I need most, is not so much a break from the activity, as a deeper understanding and appreciation of what it is I’m doing — and why.

I can’t see going through life with the same tightness and uptightness I’ve been caught up in, for so long. As long as I can remember, I’ve been uptight. Having all sorts of sensory issues, where my body feels like it’s alternately being attacked by the outside world, and then attacking me, hasn’t helped. Nor has the anxiety and agitation and constant restlessness and fatigue and confusion that comes with TBI and all the stuff that follows on it.

But even though I still have my issues (boy, did I ever sleep wrong last night – my neck is KILLING me! – and I’m bone-tired from not getting enough sleep), they don’t throw me like they used to. I am doing much better about just realizing that they’re there, letting them be, and just managing them. Taking a nap. Doing some relaxation. Reminding myself that it’s just my “stuff” acting up again.

And not letting it get to me.

It’s actually pretty amazing, if I think about it. After a lifetime of hassle and worry and tension and stress over this stuff, suddenly, it’s not this horrific drama anymore. After being literally locked away in habits and behaviors that I never questioned, just went with, I suddenly have choices about how to live my life, how to respond to it, how to keep myself going, in the face of even the most problematic issues. Things like trying to function on 4 hours of sleep, trying to navigate messed-up finances, trying to patch back together relationships that have frayed and strained to the breaking point, and functioning in a high-stress, fast-paced work environment… I can handle them. I really can.

Which opens up a whole lot of possibilities for me. Possibilities to just live my life, instead of having to struggle through. Possibilities of being able to actually enjoy my life, instead of laboring from one problem to the next. Possibilities of seeing what all I can get out of situations, and what all I can put into them, instead of just enduring till the bitter end.

And with this new expansiveness, I really feel the need for more space… to get out of my office and out in the day… to stop following the exact same route to work each day, and experiment with other routes on my way home… to step outside my daily rituals and routines and improvise a little. Riff a little. Kick back and innovate a little.

It’s all good, and it’s all happening.

I’m getting more space.

At last.

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There is as much hope as you care to hold

I suppose it’s inevitable, whenever a serious issue comes to light and gets more and more press — head injuries. Concussions in football. Pro sports injuries.

Media coverage. Reportage. Special reports. Studies  presented.

It’s good to see that folks are starting to take head injuries more seriously. Especially in sports. It’s good to see it making the news.

The pictures of broken brains help — slideshows of post-concussive gray and white matter — but they may also hurt.

Because what the pictures do not — cannot — show you, is the person the brain belongs to. They do not show the heart. They do not show the spirit. They may show tangles of tau and a ton of subconcussive damage, but they don’t reveal the character, the personality, the grit of the person attached to the brain. And they say nothing about what their life was really like — good, bad or otherwise.

And I think about what people must be thinking, when they look at the pictures and they wonder about their kids or their teammates or their other loved-ones who have gotten hit on the head a lot of times.  I wonder if they are tempted to just throw up their hands and say, “Well, that’s it then. It’s curtains for you…” and turn away from watching the “inevitable” downward demented slide of someone who’s got a lot of head trauma in their history.

When it comes to dealing with traumatic brain injury, concussions, head trauma, TBI, whatever you want to call it, the one thing I think keeps people at bay and keeps them from really studying it and learning to understand it is fear. Fear of what TBI means. Fear of what it may mean. Fear of what it might do to the person who’s experienced it. Fear of what it might turn them into.

Fear.

And ignorance. Because not ever knowing that there are an infinite number of possible outcomes — good, bad, and otherwise — for a concussion, TBI, head trauma, brain injury, or whatever else you want to call it… well, that’s pretty scary.

And that ignorance is pretty common. Even among doctors. And therapists.

I think if we could all realize that TBI is not the end of the world, and there is always a chance that things will turn out different from how the experts say they will, we could do a better job of approaching TBI, learning about it, and dealing constructively with it… perhaps even reversing the long-term effects. I think we could do a better job of educating athletes about it, as well as their parents and coaches and loved-ones. I think we could do a better job of rehabilitating survivors, and returning them to full citizenship… without them having to do it all alone.

Doing it alone is a lonely, lonely business. I know this from experience. But having someone to help you through… well, that makes it actually bearable.

We need more people to help us through.

We all do, really.

And we need: Knowledge. Information. Trust. Courage.

We need Hope.

The good news is, there’s more than enough of all of the above to go around — if we make a point of pursuing them.

It can be done.