I don’t mean it the same way that we TBI survivors have become used to: those memory problems that plague us daily and won’t go away. Forgetting in our daily lives is something we are all familiar with. We forget things that have been said to us, stuff we have done, or things we have to do.
That kind of forgetting is caused by our inability to encode information. This means we are unable to properly retrieve the information we are looking for. Whether we realize it or not, the information we are looking for is there, somewhere in our brains, we just are unable to find it.
I’m talking about a different kind of forgetting. You might say I’m talking about a deeper kind.
Forgetting How to “Be”
What I’m talking about is having forgotten what it was like to be “me”, along with what it is like to be a human being. There are certain things human beings do in their daily lives that makes them human. I seemed to lose my ability to be human after my TBI, and I’ve spent a considerable amount of time over the past forty years trying to get it back.
An example: I forgot how to have fun. I don’t know why it’s so hard for me to have fun. I try to put myself in situations where I should be able to have fun, and while I have an enjoyable time, I can’t really say I have fun. Not the kind of fun where you scream your head off laughing. The kind of fun where you jump off the roller coaster at the end of the ride and you run back around to get in line and go again because you had so much fun.
I have forgotten how to be carefree, with no worries. Life has become a business. Life is a battle to live my life the way I want to and the way I think I should. I feel as if too much of the weight of the world is on my shoulders, or I’m dragging a ball and chain around with me.
I’m always working; trying to improve.
To Be Alive
Sometimes, I think, I have forgotten how to live. I mean really live; with rosy cheeks and out of breath excitement. I’m always a little reserved, as if I do everything half-assed because I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.
I tend to live as if I’m always looking around the corner, wanting to see what’s ahead of me so I can plan. The need to plan affects my ability to be spontaneous, and I find that I rarely cut loose.
I have forgotten what it’s like to get a good nights sleep, and I think that contributes to everything else. I wake up too much and spend too much time lying in bed, waiting quietly, desperately, for the sun to rise.
Those times, when I’m lying in bed waiting for the sun to rise, are rarely productive, and, if I let them, they can be destructive.
Yes, there are things I have “forgotten”; ways of being that I’m missing from my life. If I dwell on that I’ll make myself more miserable, and will be unhappy that I am unable to be the way I think I should be.
What Has Been Added
This is when I have to look for the good. I have to look for the ways my TBI has added to my life. They may not be easy for me to find, but they are there and I will be a better person when I do find them.
Life after traumatic brain injury is all about learning how to be a better person. We may not be able to function exactly the way we did before our injury, or the way we always envisioned we would, but the way we function does not determine our worth. How we “are” as human beings determines our worth.
I think about what I’ve gained: appreciation, my strength, my purpose, my insight, a new view of the world, how I deal with adversity. Eventually, over time, I have gained a solidness that comes from going through this process, along with a feeling of gratitude for having found my niche. There have been twists and turns, and I had a change some of my definitions and expectations, but life is always changing whether you had a brain injury are not. Adapting to change is fundamental.
Yes, I have forgotten a bunch of stuff but I have learned a ton.