Sooner or later, at one time or another, all of us come to the end of our “TBI rope.”
We may be running along at breakneck speed, trying to remember how to accomplish some task, when suddenly that rope around our necks pulls tight, yanks our head back, and stops us dead. Or perhaps it’s over a long period of time; after constantly knocking our head against the wall with repeated failures and disappointments, we decide we have had just about enough of this !#!@%#!!
In both these cases above we’ve come to the end of our “TBI rope.”
Although there are many ways we can end up at the end of our “TBI rope,” they all leave us with the same feelings of defeat, anger or frustration. Maybe we become depressed, or even worse; we may be left wondering why we ever survived our brain injury in the first place. In the end, we feel stranded in a world we don’t belong in, unable to function like everyone else, or like we used to be able to.
When we are at the end of our “TBI rope” we feel like we are at the bottom of a dark and dirty pit, and the rope that has been sent down to save us is dangling above our head, just out of reach. We are in the dark and all alone. Hopelessness is closing in fast.
This could be a time of great despair, or of giving up.
Well, we’re not giving up, so let’s look for some way to get through this. Let’s look to a somewhat dated, well-known cartoon character, Popeye the Sailor Man, who used to come to the end of his rope pretty regularly. He hadn’t experienced a TBI, but how he faced the challenges in front of him are a blueprint for us as we face our own demons.
Popeye had a simple phrase that explained pretty well what it was like for him to be at the end of his rope. That phrase was, “That’s all I can stands, cuz I can’t stands n’more!” Typically, after uttering this phrase, Popeye would chow down a can of spinach and turn into a superhero.
When Popeye says “That’s all I can stands, cuz I can’t stands n’more!” he is signaling that he’s not going to accept the status quo, He is going to break the mold of the old Popeye and address his problem. This is his call to action, and he answers the call with spinach to help get him going.
Each of us needs to acknowledge when we are at the end of out TBI rope, and find what works for us, what prompts us to smash the mold, break the patterns we fall into, and believe in our success at the very toughest time. This is a time of renewal. Come up with your own phrase for when you are at the end of your TBI rope if you want. Something that triggers a certain behavior where your mind is sharp and your senses are heightened, so you can turn the frustration and hopelessness of “being at the end of your TBI rope,” into a call for action.
A call to action does not have to mean you turn into a whirling dervish like Popeye, battling all your demons and trying to do the impossible. In our case, a call to action might start with the words, “Yes I can.” The next sentence might be, “I just have to figure out how.”
We need to be smart about it. Start small. The first step in the call to action might be as simple as an acknowledgment of the present, of who you are and what you are capable of, just like another famous phrase that Popeye used to use, “I yam what I yam.”
With those words, Popeye was telling the world what he could bring to the battle of life,. He was making a simple statement which is true for everyone, and which we should remember: “I only can do what I can do.” Popeye didn’t despair about his past or be unrealistic about his future. He didn’t say, “I yam what I was.” He didn’t make any excuses and say, “I yam not what I was,” and turn back. He also didn’t say, “I yam what I think I’m supposed to be,” or “I yam what I should have been.”
For each of us, “I yam what I yam” is the truth. Although we might like it to be different, and it may be different in our dreams and desires, we need to acknowledge the truth in order to move forward with our lives and we need to acknowledge what we are powerfully, and with pride. We shouldn’t run from reality because there is strength in what we are, even if it isn’t what you used to be.
This is a three step process; learning what “I yam” is, accepting “I yam”, and then being who you are, powerfully. Acknowledging and accepting who you are will help you when you get angry or depressed, and when you can’t do those things you used to do, and you will face your life with a new reality.
When you’re at the end of your rope, muttering, “That’s all I can stands, cuz I can’t stands n’more!” it is not the beginning of the end, it is your call to action; your signal to flip the switch, and believe in yourself as only you can. This might be the time you will jump higher than you thought you could so you can grab the end of that rope and pull yourself out of the pit, addressing your life as only you can, yelling, “I yam what I yam!!” at the top of your lungs.
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