There you are, on a mountaintop, alone, listening to the wind blow through the scrub brush and the mountain grasses, and all you can think is, “Where did my friends go?”
You’ve never felt so alone.
That’s what it’s like when you’ve experienced a Brain Injury. Friends disappear, just when you want to share stuff with them, or you need them.
You’re left listening to the silence and the wind.
This is a fact: others absolutely cannot comprehend the enormity of what has happened to our brain after TBI. That’s all. Simple. They have no frame of reference that allows them to even begin to understand what has happened, nor should they be expected to, given where they are coming from, and that is something we need to understand.
Even when we explain it to them, they cannot understand. There is some disconnect there, and we just can’t get through. It’s as if we are speaking English and they are speaking Mongolian: our friends don’t understand us, and we don’t understand them.
What makes it even harder is that it seems as though our closest friends have the hardest time adapting to the new us. This is very painful. Those of us who have had a Brain Injury have little patience and understanding for friends who question us or abandon us, and because they have done so at a time when we need them, we feel really hurt and angry.
We might think, “Why should we be understanding of their situation when we are the weakened ones?” The last thing we knew these people were our friends and now it seems as though they are stabbing us in the back, and it’s when we are at our weakest and need their support. It’s hard to take because it almost seems like they are going out of their way to be bad people.
But hold on for a sec. Let’s try to be rational here; why were you friends in the first place? A friendship is normally a two way street, meaning that both parties get something from the relationship. A relationship exists because it is mutually beneficial, not because it is good for one person and not good for the other.
This isn’t a marriage where, “’til death do us part,” and you’re stuck with each other, at least until you get divorced. This is a friendship, and although we like to idealize and romanticize what that friendship is and means, for it to continue both parties are going to have to keep on getting something from it.
It helps for both parties to be on the same wavelength.
You need friends who care enough about you as a person to be of service, to go through the tough times as well as the good, and who are emotionally equipped for this type of situation. These type of friends are rare, and they are to be treasured. This does not make your other friends bad people. They are just being human, and may not be equipped to be a friend to you after your brain injury. The point is, you can’t count on someone just because they have had the label “friend” in the past. Things have changed.
It’s also important to look at how you are with your friends. Many of us are affected by a condition called anosognosia. Having this condition means we don’t have self-awareness, and are not always able to see how what we are doing, or how we are being, is affecting others. We may not understand or notice exactly what we are doing, or that we are even doing anything that makes it hard for others to be around us.
Examining how we are with others and being objective about it so we can change is difficult. However, carrying around your anger and feelings of rejection is only going to hurt you in the long run. Feeling this way is just going to keep you stuck in the negative, and suck away the good, positive stuff you that you need to get better and live your life.
This is tough, because you want to feel good and feel powerful, and sometimes being angry is the only way to fight back against the world. It’s asking a lot of you at a time when you may not have a lot to give, but if you can find a way to move past the negative feelings these situations bring, you will be able to direct your energies towards living your life in a more magnanimous and positive way.
Being magnanimous, especially to those people who have hurt you without meaning to, will open up your life in ways you didn’t think possible.