Wednesday, March 21, 2012

new metaphor for living with a brain injury


I recently came up with a new metaphor for living with a brain injury. I belong to a BI support group that is not all that supportive because there are too many people. Our coordinator told us that she would soon be dividing us into 2 groups that will meet on different days. Folks wondered how the split would work and our leader said she was not sure yet. Why don't you make a positive group and a negative group? I quipped. The "negative" people all laughed. Although I place myself in the negatives, I think of us more as realists and the others as dreamers.

I do not find it helpful when members of the group talk about regaining skills they lost or accessing their pre-injury brain which is still there somewhere.

So here is my metaphor:

Imagine, if you will, that you used to live in a beautiful town, maybe Santa Barbara. You drove on coastal highways in a convertible and you had a year-round tan. Sure, you worked hard and had problems like the next guy, but life was good. Then one day you woke up and found yourself living in Times Square in New York City. The sights, the sounds, the smells were overwhelming. Little by little, you began to realize how far you were from Santa Barbara and that reality was devastating. Nobody was holding your job for you in case you came back.

All the people with brain injuries are in this predicament (in my metaphor). The dreamers focus on walking back to Santa Barbara. They know it is still there somewhere to the west and they are sure they can make it back. They congratulate themselves on each step closer. "Hey, look! I can see the Hudson River! California, here I come."

The realists adapt to life in this overwhelming, crazy new urban environment. Maybe they use ear plugs or sunglasses. Maybe they hire a guide to help them get around. They struggle to learn how to use the subway system. Adaptation is the goal.

It is like they say in A.A. It's fine to glance at the rear view mirror but if you stare at it, you are not looking where you are going. We all know what happens when you do not look where you are going.

1 comment:

Elizabeth, John and Jack said...

I'll wear the ear plugs and sunglasses while following my heart all the way back to CA. I'll need some sunscreen too! I'll need to at least be comfortable for the long road back. One part realist, one part optomist here. I try to make the best with what I've got but always keep trying to move forward....sometimes unsuccessfully. Love your anology. :)