Some kinds of courage are obvious: someone runs into a fire and saves a life, or somebody dives into a river and pulls a drowning person out of the water. These are awe inspiring examples of people rescuing others while putting their own lives at risk, and are textbook acts of courageousness.
You’ve got to really look to see a type of less-obvious courage, the no-choice courage: the kind exhibited by those who face challenges in their life and get up every morning, day in and day out, to fight the battle with no fanfare and no reward.
Think about that. People like you, TBI survivors, live a courageous life simply in order to survive and regain some semblance of what you used to be. The sad part is that few notice and you are rarely acknowledged for what you do every day.
You need to understand how courageous you are. Your courageousness needs to be acknowledged, and that is what I am going to do right now.
I am going to acknowledge all the TBI Survivors out there who battle against great odds, and often under great hardship, in order to reclaim their lives.
The Courage of the TBI Survivor
A person who is courageous doesn’t usually consider themselves courageous or special. Mostly, true courage is marked by humility because it is born of a feeling of obligation or need. People may feel pride in themselves or feel good about what they have done, but they probably don’t feel especially courageous. They are just trying to live their lives the best way they can and do what they think is right.
In the case of you, the TBI survivor, each one of you exhibits great courage as you attempt to rebuild your life. While it would be nice if others could see that or were able to understand, it’s much more important that you understand that you are fighting an honorable, courageous battle, and that the rewards you hope to get are a product of being in that battle, and are priceless.
The TBI survivor’s only rewards for being courageous are: 1) be able to live your life in a manner you find fulfilling, and 2) the knowledge and the feeling you get from knowing you have accomplished something great, even though others may not see it.
There have only been very few times in my life when I have been acknowledged for what I have done; not because people don’t care, but simply because others just don’t understand. One time, I was speaking with a girl I had just met in college and the conversation shifted to the fact that I had been in a coma for a month. She stopped, looked at me and said, “You must be the strongest person in the school.”
I can remember being completely floored and not knowing what to say. I sheepishly shrugged my shoulders and walked off. That was so nice of her to say, and so completely unexpected.
Today I can say that, but when she said that to me I couldn’t appreciate it or acknowledge it, and I wouldn’t believe it.
That is a huge issue for us. When people do say good things; letting them sink in, understanding what is happening, and allowing people to say good things about us.
We should acknowledge ourselves
When people pay you compliments; listen. Don’t deflect them or refuse to believe them. Try to understand the magnitude of what you are doing. So many of us think we don’t deserve it because we aren’t what we used to be, before our Brain Injury, and that we are not worthy of praise.
We all are courageous and you are worthy.
It’s just hard to measure or see, on a daily basis, the results of your courageous-ness. Add to that the fact that you aren’t performing up to our old standards, and it makes accepting any type of praise difficult. No matter how well you are doing things, it never seems good enough.
However, each day you grow. You learn. You become.
The courageous-ness you exhibit is not for a one-time event or a singular occasion. It is displayed every day, when you wake up and drag yourself out of bed to fight an invisible and silent opponent. In many ways life becomes a grind, one that’ll chew you up and spit you out if you let it; but you battle. You fight for your dignity and your life, and by being engaged in that fight you gain so much. That’s a hard thing to explain to someone, but you know.
Courage is not always rewarded and is, in fact, many times overlooked, mostly for the following reason: people are unable to recognize it. Most heroes toil in obscurity for what they think is important; simply because that is how they need to live their lives.
There is dignity and honor in the way you live your life, and you should be proud of every little thing you have accomplished.
It is an honorable battle and an honorable life.