As I sit waiting for some brilliant, creative idea to drop from the heavens so I can start writing again, I find myself reflecting over the past few years.
In October of 2015, I was invited to contribute as a blogger for Huffington Post. In December of that same year, I sustained a life-altering concussion. The unending downward spiral that ensued soon ended not only my creativity but my ability to do much of anything. I worked part-time and it took my utmost to muster up enough energy and smarts to commit to my job as the result.
I lost so much during the months following, becoming a shell of who I once was, any vibrancy and optimism shot all to hell. A bump on the noggin and poof, I was gone. Dark days became darker, hope had abandoned me and mostly I plodded through the fog, wondering when I’d ever feel ‘normal’ again. My entire being – personality, physicality, mentality, emotions – they all took a hit. The sucky part was that none of it was visible (well, except for the 30 lb weight gain) so then I felt judged and misunderstood, and sometimes like people didn’t want to learn or to understand what I’d been through or what my injury meant for the future.
As a single mom raising teenagers, sorting myself through a traumatic brain injury (TBI) was the absolute last challenge I needed. Seriously. All the cliches only made me want to throat punch people:
Everything happens for a reason.
Every cloud has a silver lining.
What’s the lesson you need to learn?
Time heals all wounds.
You’ll get through it.
This too shall pass.
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
I call b.s. Cliches help us feel better when someone is struggling, they don’t help the individual we say it to. Just stop. Our need to offer support in the form of words can be utterly insensitive and unnecessary.
What if this doesn’t pass? What if this is my new reality? Always trying to pull words from the sky, garbled sentences, and fog? What if the brain bleed that showed up on an MRI a year later never heals? Thankfully migraines are few and very far between now! What reason could there possibly be to inflict continued misery? Don’t try to answer that, it doesn’t require a response.
As the calendar transitions and the buzz revolves around a fresh start, new beginnings, a clean slate, blah blah blah, I question what that means for me. I’m definitely not a resolution type, and the proverbial weight I feel when I think of committing to some major transformation leaves me questioning the hype around the new year.
Having said that, I love the idea of a clean page, a new chapter, so maybe using the new year to propel me forward isn’t such a bad thing after all. It has definitely given me pause this year, as I recognize a desperate need to heal emotional wounds and to nourish my soul.
Which brings me full circle. What does that mean to me? Writing. Friends. Connectedness. My kids. What do I grieve the loss of most since my brain injury? All of the above but particularly my kids. One of them wonders if I’ll ever pull out of my “deep depression”, another says our relationship is broken because my personality has changed so significantly and the other says most of our conversations revolve around me asking for chores to get done. Doesn’t sound all that appealing, does it?
Since I finally feel like I’m on the path to renewal, maybe the blank pages before me – literally and metaphorically – are just there, waiting for me to be who I am now, to forge a new path, to offer hope to others. Piece by piece, little by little, day by day, glimpsing remnants of hope, piecing together a new future.
I am not an optimist, because I am not sure that everything ends well. Nor am I a pessimist, because I am not sure that everything ends badly. I just carry hope in my heart. Hope is the feeling that life and work have a meaning. You either have it or you don’t, regardless of the state of the world that surrounds you. Life without hope is an empty, boring, and useless life. I cannot imagine that I could strive for something if I did not carry hope in me. I am thankful to God for this gift. It is as big as life itself.
While there is life, there is hope.