After a cold and snowy winter, summer is finally here. Summer is a great time to take off your shoes and kick back, lie on the beach, hang out with friends, or spend an evening on the front porch listening to the baseball game.
In the fall and winter seasons we always seem to be battling something; whether it’s those hurricanes, tornadoes, snow storms, or just bone chilling cold, we always seem to be reacting to
something that’s making life challenging. Either that, or we are running around getting prepared for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s, or Presidents Day.
Well, I take that last one back. We don’t put too much effort into Presidents’ Day, except if you want to buy a car.
After the strain and the many commitments of winter, summer is the time to get away; mentally and physically. It is a time of bare feet and bathing suits. It is a time for your world to become more laid back and easy going; a time of barbecues and vacation.
I wish summer was more of a vacation for me. For me, summer is simply a time when there are more options and the weather is warmer. I know we’re supposed to be more relaxed and fun, but I never really got that. Although I can do it at times, it’s hard for me to relax and have fun.
There is this tension in my body: brain injury tension.
Maybe it’s just me, but I tend to get wound up, don’t do well in the heat, and don’t sleep well in the summer. I can’t remember being like that before I had my TBI. While my summers used to be carefree, my summers now usually feel a little bit too much like a headlong rush, and I feel like I’m just trying to get by until the days get a little cooler. Then I’ll be less busy. It only feels as though I start to relax towards the end of August when I know the end is near.
The reality is, I’m doing better now, but it’s only been in the last few years that I’ve been able to take more control of my summer and enjoy it more. I still dream of one thing though:
I would love to take a vacation from my traumatic brain injury.
It can be very simple. I don’t have to take a trip and spend a lot of money. I don’t have to rely on anyone else. I don’t even have to go to some great event. I just want to feel free. I want my head clear and my mind straight; no confusion. No frustration. No anger. No thinking about what might have been.
You know when you wake up in the morning and you are stuck in that dreamy state before consciousness sets in? That’s kind of where I want to be: that dreamy netherworld where my TBI doesn’t exist, just before I realize where and who I am, and say, “Oh damn.”
I want to feel at peace. I want to feel calm. I want a rest. I want to be untroubled.
I know…that’s a lot of “I wants,”, but it all comes down to one: I want my traumatic brain injury to be something that never happened, so I can experience a carefree life; see what that life might have been like. I want to not have the TBI cloud hanging over my head, or have the TBI shadow always following me.
But then I start thinking that if I actually went into “remission”, my remission would eventually end, and it would be like having a brain injury all over again. That would really suck.
Also, what if I had a brief vacation from my TBI and I learned that things weren’t be so peachy keen? That could very well be the reality; we always think life would have been better had we not had our TBI, but what if we’re wrong? There is a good chance it would have been better, but we don’t know and we never will. All we really know is that it would have been different.
I’ve got the be careful what I wish for, because I might be disappointed. Life might be just as challenging, and my search for a peaceful moment could turn out to be a nightmare. You know how it is; the grass is always greener on the other side, but once you are actually on the other side, life isn’t always so perfect.
Is the vacation worth the possible costs? Do I want to risk that glimpse into, “What could have been?”
The truth is, since our brain injuries, we haven’t stopped. Although it may seem as though things have ground to a halt for us, we have always been moving and growing, even when we are in pain, or feeling anger or frustration. Not for a second have we stopped. We are each on a quest of self-discovery; of re-discovery, if you will. We desperately want to find out and be, who we are, and that is all consuming work. It’s also the most exhausting work, because a lot of is mental, but, believe it or not, it can be exhilarating.
A little rest though, would be nice.
Farren clark says
Patrick John says
An absolutely brilliant article, Jeff. Written from the heart and with great insight.
Jeff Sebell says
Thanks very much, Patrick.
Michael Anthony Boccio says
Actually Jeff I used to live up New York way and after my accident the cold weather was not really Good for me so I packed up and moved to sunny Florida where I met my wife of almost 9 years, also a TBI Survivor and together we are happy and loving it in this laid back life- she is a student at Liberty University (Online) and me well I am just a disabled American Veteran!!!
Jeff Sebell says
Michael, great to hear happy endings. I guess we all need to look for the best ways to live our lives. Yours obviously works.
Nice new photo of you. You look great!
There are such differences in how we each experience our post-TBI lives! I read all your posts, and I occasionally have a lot to say. In this case, however, I just cannot “relate.”
I don’t SEE myself, or my brain, or my struggles as SEPARATE from who I am. I just DON’T! I honestly can say that I don’t consider the changes to be something I want to “escape”- any more than I want to escape the changes I went through in puberty and all the other changes life has meant…
It’s just ALL ME. And I love “ME.” Lots of things have happened in my life that have changed me – broken hearts, job changes, geographic moves. All part of MY LIFE.
We don’t GET to pick and choose. We take what comes, and we make the BEST of it – always. Otherwise life is an endless stream of bitterness and “what-ifs.” I can’t live like that. So I don’t. Whenever I go anywhere, I take ALL of me along for the ride. For me, at least, it’s best that way. Always has been.
YOU enjoy your “vacation,” and do take care!
Suzanne ;- )
I find this wise and authentic.
I highly relate — summer heat is now extremely difficult.
Despite the temptation to think back or wish for a different outcome, you manage to reach deep within and hold balance.
What difficulties we have are more difficult when we assume that something else is better. Resistance is futile. 😉
Somehow, I will find a balance between feeling defeated by and denying my symptoms. Meanwhile, I am glad for blogs like yours.
I love your attitude, Suzanne! I’m going to try to get there, at least for a few minutes every day! I had depression before my injury, and it’s worse since. I practice gratitude every day, and I think that helps.
Melissa Faith Robison says
Thank you for allowing me to take a little break with you just then. It feels good to acknowledge the frustrations of jumbled words and brain fogs, and just imagine some stress free time. I also agree with you on the point about not knowing the other alternative, and I would not change a thing.
Thanks Jeff! I always find something in your posts that relate directly to my experience, and that’s true here too! I’m having a rough time this summer, have trouble accepting that my brain is not going to get better, I’ll never get my old one back. I pray daily for strength and stamina, and I’m now adding patience to that, as I’m hearing that 4 years post injury is not a long time and I have more to learn about acceptance and managing my symptoms.
This so struck a chord with me, Jeff. I think it was probably three years after my first Brady injury when I stop saying I just want to vacation just one day without my TBI. And now I’m sitting back with the distance of 26+ years for my first TBI I confess to being grateful to my TBI. I am a much stronger self-aware and aware of others person that I might ever have been before. I know my value I know how hard I can work and I know what kind of results I can get. I know I am capable of great growth. I believe in myself? None of this was true pre-TBI. I know some of it is certainly attributable to aging but I am grateful, proud to be a person with a disability, grateful to be alive.
Where ever we go… there WE are!
I keep my difficulties from all of those around me..family, friends etc. NO ONE would understand the daily struggle of just trying to get up and do the things they do with ease. I feel like a poser, because everything I do manage to do takes way TOO much thinking. It wears you out !
I recently joined a TBI/Aneurysm group and thought it would help…. but now it feels like every time I sit down to the computer I am reminded of my aneurysms.
LOL….ya’ just can’t escape.
In my life- It is my faith that gives me respite. I reclaim that respite many times a day…as the challenges are constant.
I cry because this is how it is for my husband who has TBI and is 24/7 care. He is most himself when he is sleeping and dreaming and I have found pieces of him in the things he says just as he is becoming awake. When he wakes, he learns all over again, like you, that life is different now. When he is awake, the brain “gets in the way” of reaching his memories. He is 8 years post injury and continues to heal in slow ways and I will not give up trying to help him. We have been married 37 years. He is a good, kind, patient man. He’s the best thing that ever happened to me. We are stuck in this terrible place, and we both need a vacation. Thanks for posting.
A vacation sounds perfect. Thanks for taking the time to write this!!!